Patrice Kunesh joined the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in July 2015 as Assistant Vice President and Director of the Center for Indian Country Development. Kunesh, who is of Standing Rock Lakota descent, has extensive experience representing American Indian tribes throughout the country. She began her legal career at the Native American Rights Fund, where she litigated cases concerning jurisdiction and natural resources, and counselled on tribal governance issues. She recently served as Deputy Under Secretary of Rural Development at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where she oversaw the State Directors and Operations & Management. Before that, Kunesh served as the Deputy Solicitor for Indian Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior, supervising legal and policy work related to American Indian tribes, lands, and gaming. In addition, Kunesh was in-house counsel to the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and served on the faculty at the University of South Dakota School of Law, where she also directed the University’s Institute of American Indian Studies.
Kunesh received a Master of Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and a JD from the University of Colorado School of Law, where she was an editor of the Colorado Law Review.
Richard M. Todd, Senior Advisor to the Center for Indian Country Development, joined the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis as a research economist in 1980. He has served as an officer in the Bank’s discount window, payments system risk, banking supervision, and information technology functions and is currently a Vice President with responsibilities in Community Development and with the Center for Indian Country Development. He has published articles on homeownership and foreclosures, poverty, financial education, monetary policy, business cycles, financial regulation, payments systems, forecasting, and seasonality and currently studies economic development on American Indian reservations. Dr. Todd is on the board of the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development and the University of Minnesota Crookston’s Economic Development Center. He holds a Ph. D. in Agricultural and Applied Economics from the University of Minnesota.
Nikki Pieratos, Project Director, is a member of the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa and brings extensive reservation business and financial services expertise to the CICD. Before joining the CICD in 2017, Nikki previously was the founder and CEO/President of the Northern Eagle Federal Credit Union, which serves the Bois Forte community. Nikki received her MPP from the University of Chicago.
Fred Fisher joined the CICD in 2016 as an Executive Fellow from the Casey Family Program - Indian Child Welfare Program. Previously Fred supported tribal programs at Rural Development in the US Department of Agriculture in a similar capacity. Fred’s career has been focused on improving outcomes for vulnerable children and families, and communities.
Jessie Welton joined the CICD as the Coordinator in late 2017. Prior to the CICD, Jessie supported the Program Assurance Function at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. As the CICD Coordinator, Jessie is responsible for department operations and assists with communications and event planning. Jessie has a B.A. in economics, and currently is completing her master’s degree in Public Policy and Leadership at the University of St. Thomas.
Federal Reserve System Contributors
Major Robinson, Helena Branch Executive
Phone: 406-447-3806, Email: Major.Robinson@mpls.frb.org
Sandy Gerber, Ninth District Indian Business Alliance; Ninth District Community Reinvestment Act Program
Phone: 612-204-5166, Email: Sandra.Gerber@mpls.frb.org
Rob Grunewald, Early Childhood Development
Phone: 612-204-5268, Email: Rob.Grunewald@mpls.frb.org
Diana Holshue Financial education and homebuyer readiness
Phone: 406-447-3861, Email: Diana.Holshue@mpls.frb.org
Michou Kokodoko, Ninth District Community Development Financial Institutions
Phone: 612-204-5064, Email: Michou.Kokodoko@mpls.frb.org
Craig Nolte, Indian Country economic development, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco
Phone: 425-203-0797, Email: Craig.Nolte@sf.frb.org