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Oweesta names new CEO

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RAPID CITY, S.D. – As its 10 year anniversary of Native community development and asset building rapidly approaches, First Nations Oweesta Corporation is looking to the future with a new chief executive officer at the helm, Tracey Fischer.

Fischer, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, is an attorney and previously served as Oweesta’s director of the Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Development Department, providing training and technical assistance to Native communities.

Fischer obtained her J.D. from Yale Law School in 1999. She also has a bachelor’s in business administration and accounting. Fisher will take over for Elsie Meeks, who stepped down as CEO to become the USDA director of rural development for South Dakota. Fischer has acted as interim CEO since Meeks stepped down and officially took the helm Aug. 1.

“It is an honor to accept this position with Oweesta. I stand firmly behind our mission to help build strong Native institutions and programs and promote economic sovereignty in Native communities. I believe that my legal and financial background will assist me in leading the organization into its second decade of service to Native people.”

Fischer said she was grateful to continue on the path struck by Meeks. “Elsie’s dedication and enthusiasm for empowering tribes through economic and community development was an inspiration and we will continue to grow and expand the work that she began.”

Prior to law school, Fischer worked as a lender for Norwest Bank (now Wells Fargo) and as an auditor for the South Dakota Department of Labor. She has also taught as an adjunct professor at the University of South Dakota School of Law on Indian country economic development, and at Oglala Lakota College in Eagle Butte, S.D., on tribal governance issues.

In addition to her legal and Native economic development work, Fischer also served as the executive director of the South Dakota Equal Justice Commission, which was created by the South Dakota Supreme Court to identify and address the disparate treatment of minorities in the South Dakota judicial system.

Fischer’s legal background includes experience representing tribal corporations and tribal governments on such issues as legal and physical infrastructure development, financial and real estate transactions, and tribal/state relations. She worked with the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and other Northern Plains tribes. She also serves as counsel with the law firm of Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP, a national Indian law firm based in Omaha, Neb.