The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis has appointed Patrice Kunesh as co-director of the Center for Indian Country Development (CICD). She will join co-director Susan Woodrow, who also serves as the executive officer of the Minneapolis Fed’s Helena, Mont., Branch.
The CICD will be formally launched in mid-year 2015 and will expand on the Federal Reserve System’s partnerships and collaborations with key stakeholders from across the country that are similarly committed to Indian Country economic development. Building on past efforts, the Minneapolis Fed will continue to work in collaboration with tribal leaders, government agencies, business enterprises, financial institutions, educational institutions and community organizations to improve education, income, business development and economic mobility on American Indian reservations and in other Native American communities.
“During her time at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and throughout her career, Patrice has worked tirelessly to advocate on behalf of policies and programs that better serve the needs of Tribal communities. Indian Country and, truly, the country as a whole have been extraordinarily well served by Patrice,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “I wish Patrice all the best as she assumes her role as co-director of the new Center for Indian Country Development.”
“Patrice has dedicated more than two decades to improving the lives of the American tribal communities across the country. I am confident that her experience and her leadership will further enhance our efforts to help self-governing communities of American Indians attain their economic development goals,” said Narayana Kocherlakota, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
Kunesh recently served as deputy under secretary of rural development at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where she oversaw Operations & Management and the Office of Civil Rights and worked with the USDA’s state directors.
Kunesh, who is of Standing Rock Lakota descent, has also served as the deputy solicitor for Indian affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior, where she supervised work related to American Indian tribes, lands and gaming. Before that she was a member of the faculty at the University of South Dakota School of Law, where she taught as well as directed the university’s Institute of American Indian Studies.
Kunesh began her legal career at the Native American Rights Fund, where she litigated cases involving tribal sovereignty and natural resources. She provided legal and policy advice to tribes on a range of issues. In 1995, she became in-house counsel to the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe of Connecticut, where she continued her legal and policy work.
Kunesh received a Master of Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and a law degree from the University of Colorado School of Law, where she was an editor of the Colorado Law Review.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis is one of 12 regional Reserve Banks that, with the Board of Governors in Washington, D.C., make up the Federal Reserve System, the nation’s central bank. The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis is responsible for the Ninth Federal Reserve District, which includes Montana, North and South Dakota, Minnesota, northwestern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis participates in setting national monetary policy, supervises numerous banking organizations, and provides a variety of payments services to financial institutions and the U.S. government.