National Congress of American Indians CEO resigns

National Congress of American Indians CEO Kevin Allis (Photo courtesy of NCAI)

Kolby KickingWoman

Kevin Allis, Forest County Potawatomi Community, became the group's first chief executive in June 2019

Kolby KickingWoman
Indian Country Today

The chief executive officer of the National Congress of American Indians announced his resignation during an opening speech of the organization’s annual convention Monday.

Kevin Allis, Forest County Potawatomi Community, has served in the role since June 2019. He said he accomplished what he set out to do and is leaving the organization in good hands.

There has been no announcement on who might fill the position.

The National Congress of American Indians is a nonprofit made up of Native American and Alaska Native tribal governments and citizens. Its mission is to advocate for treaty rights and the welfare of tribal citizens, and to promote a better understanding of Native peoples.

Allis’ goals at the organization included making the organization financially stable and providing a comfortable working environment. He said he’s leaving the organization with a stronger foundation and believes NCAI can be even more impactful moving forward.

"Now we're at a point that we can launch and move forward into an even higher stratosphere and be even more valuable in a way that our founders envisioned 77 years ago this month in Denver," he said. "I say that because my work is done; we have made it to where we need to go. And now it's time to pass the torch to a new executive officer that will take what we've built in the last 18 months and take it even further."

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Allis did not give a specific reason for his departure but noted it was an honor to work with the organization’s staff, executive committee and tribal leaders around the country.

Additionally, the resignation is not immediate.

“I'm still going to be around for a little bit. It's not a goodbye, but I am transitioning now,” Allis said.

National Congress of American Indians President Fawn Sharp and CEO Kevin Allis pose at the group’s annual State of Indian Nations address in Washington in February. Sharp moderated a town hall Tuesday on the federal response to COVID-19 in Indian Country. (Photo by McKenzie Sadeghi/Cronkite News)
Fawn Sharp and Kevin Allis pose at NCAI's annual State of Indian Nations address in Washington. (Photo by McKenzie Sadeghi/Cronkite News, File)

Following Allis’ speech, NCAI President Fawn Sharp, Quinault, thanked him for his leadership during his time as the organization’s first chief executive officer.

“During his tenure as NCAI’s first CEO, Kevin played an integral role in advancing the interests of tribal nations in Washington, D.C., and throughout Indian Country,” Sharp said in a statement later released by the organization. “NCAI wishes Kevin well in his future endeavors and thanks him for his service.”

Allis came into the position after a controversial couple of months that included a string of personnel problems at the organization.

The convention, originally slated to be held in Portland, Oregon, is being hosted virtually this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Allis said there was no chance the event was going to be called off.

“This was no time to take a break. This was no time to cancel the event,” he said. “We had to make sure that we brought the Congress together to deliberate about what we should be doing and asking for and demanding in the truth and reconciliation as we move forward.”

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Kolby KickingWoman, Blackfeet/A'aniih is a reporter/producer for Indian Country Today. He is from the great state of Montana and currently reports for the Washington Bureau. For hot sports takes and too many Lakers tweets, follow him on Twitter - @KDKW_406. Email - kkickingwoman@indiancountrytoday.com

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