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New Bureau of Indian Education career appointees

WASHINGTON – George T. Skibine, deputy assistant secretary for policy and economic development, Indian affairs at the Interior Department announced Feb. 12 additions to the career-level track within the Bureau of Indian Education.

Those who received Senior Executive Service appointments include Stephanie E. Birdwell as deputy director for policy, evaluation and post secondary education; Bartholomew “Bart” Stevens as deputy director for school operations; and David Talayumptewa as assistant deputy director for administration.

SES positions are highly competitive and are among the most prestigious jobs available to non-political appointees in the federal government.

The individuals are all enrolled tribal members, and their appointments became effective Jan. 4.

“The filling of these key posts will allow us to continue implementing the school accountability and student performance requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act across the BIE school system,” Skibine said.

The BIE is responsible for ensuring the implementation of federal education laws, including NCLB, in 184 BIE-funded elementary and secondary schools located on 63 reservations in 23 states serving approximately 48,000 students nationwide.

The agency also provides resources and technical assistance to 122 tribally administered BIE-funded schools and 25 tribal colleges and universities; and directly operates two postsecondary institutions: Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kan., and the Southwest Indian Polytechnic Institute in Albuquerque, N.M.

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Biographies of the new SES appointees, courtesy of BIE:

Birdwell is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. Her federal career began in 1996 as a social worker at the BIA Northern Pueblos Agency in Espanola, N.M., where she rose to the rank of Southwest regional social worker in the BIA’s Southwest Regional Office in Albuquerque. While there, she served as the bureau’s acting deputy regional director for Indian services from October 2005 to January 2006.

In October 2006, Birdwell joined the Office of Indian Services staff at the BIA’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., as human services program officer, a position she held until May 2008. From July to December 2007, she also served as acting assistant to the deputy director for Indian services. In December 2007, she became acting assistant to the deputy bureau director for the BIA’s Office of Trust Services. She joined the BIE in June 2008 as the acting deputy director for policy, evaluation and post secondary education.

Stevens is an enrolled member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe in Arizona with ancestry from the Gila River Indian Community in Arizona, the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes in Idaho and the Ute Indian Tribe in Utah. Following a long career in teaching, counseling and school administration positions in Utah tribal and public schools, Stevens joined the BIE’s New Mexico South Education Line Office in Albuquerque in July 2006 as education line officer.

Starting in August 2007, Stevens concurrently held two of three BIE associate deputy directorships. He was responsible for the line management, direction and supervision of 16 offices overseeing BIE-funded schools in 25 states. He continued to serve in both posts until his current appointment.

Talayumptewa, an enrolled member of the Hopi Tribe in Arizona, has more than 25 years experience in the field of Indian education, most of that time with the Indian Affairs Office of Indian Education Programs.

His early years were spent as chief administrative officer for the Hopi Tribe where he was responsible for the day-to-day operations of four divisions, including education. He oversaw the construction of the Hopi Junior/Senior High School, and ensured that it was staffed and operational in preparation for its opening in 1986.

That year, Talayumptewa began his career with the OIEP where he served as a business manager and education line officer in Keams Canyon and as the acting ELO at the Western Navajo Education Line Office in Tuba City, Ariz. He went on to hold several senior positions at the BIE’s Central Office – West location in Albuquerque.