NAFOA Announces Former Yurok Tribal Leader Susan Masten As Interim Executive Director


JUNE 1, 2023

Bettina Gonzalez,
Director of Communications

WASHINGTON, DC — NAFOA, founded as the Native American Finance Officers Association, names former Yurok Tribal Leader Susan Masten as its interim executive director effective today, June 1, 2023. She was appointed to the position by the NAFOA Board of Directors. As interim executive director, Masten will be responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of the organization, as well as leading its strategic direction.

“I am honored to be entrusted by the Board of Directors with this critically important position,” said Masten. “I look forward to working with the NAFOA Board, Member Tribes, the staff, and our federal and corporate partners to ensure that we meet today’s challenges and take advantage of the opportunities to secure economic and financial success for all of Indian Country.”

Susan Masten, a citizen of the Yurok Tribe of Northern California, comes to NAFOA as a lifelong political activist and advocate for tribal and women’s rights. From 1988 to 1991, she served as a Yurok Transition Team member to implement the Hoopa-Yurok Settlement Act which established the Hoopa Valley and the Yurok Reservations. She then served as the Yurok Tribal Chairperson from 1997 to 2003 and continued for an additional two terms as the Tribal Vice-Chairperson. Around the same time, Masten also served as the First Vice-President, then President of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), as only the second woman to serve in the position. During her tenure, her advocacy covered issues such as energy, natural resource management, housing, health, budget allocations, trust reform, digital divide, and sovereignty protection.

“Her years of leadership experience and working knowledge of Indian Country will greatly benefit the organization,” said NAFOA First Vice President VaRene Martin (Thlopthlocco Tribal Town, Mvskoke (Creek) Nation).

Masten’s leadership experience also includes serving as Vice-Chairperson of the Intertribal Monitoring Association on Indian Trust Fund; Chair of the National Trust Reform Task Force; Chair of the Board of Directors of the Indian Law Resource Center; Vice-President of the National American Indian Enterprise Development Center; Humboldt County Planning Commissioner; President of the Klamath Chamber of Commerce; among many others. In 2022, she was appointed to the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors by the Governor of California. Masten remains very active in her traditional Yurok tribal practices, which include fishing and gathering on the Klamath River; she is also responsible for the care and protection of her family’s ceremonial regalia.

NAFOA will launch a nationwide search for the next permanent executive director in the coming months. In the meantime, Masten will work closely with the Board of Directors to ensure the organization’s continued growth and success. “We are confident she will lead NAFOA in a strong and sustainable direction,” said First Vice President Martin.



NAFOA was originally founded over 40 years ago as the Native American Finance Officers Association to highlight the role of tribal finance in fostering economic opportunities. Over the last four decades, NAFOA has grown along with tribes to be advocates of sound economic and fiscal policy and developers of innovative training programs in financial management in order to build the skills of the next generation. Semiannually, NAFOA convenes tribal leadership, experienced professionals, and economic partners to meet the challenges of economic growth and change. To learn more about NAFOA, visit the website


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