Atkinson Named Director of Indian Energy and Economic Development Office

On November 9, Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Larry Echo Hawk announced Karen J. Atkinson, a businesswoman, attorney and enrolled member of the Three Affiliated Tribes in North Dakota, as director of the Indian Affairs Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development.

“Karen understands very well that to improve economic conditions in Indian country, we must help tribal leaders with business development and job creation in their communities,” Echo Hawk said. “I am pleased that Karen has agreed to use her extensive knowledge and experience of business and government to lead the Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development in its mission to empower tribes and build their economies.”

In her new role, Atkinson will run an agency that handles services from economic development, employment and training, energy and mineral development and administers the Indian Guaranteed Loan Program for all federally recognized tribes.

“I am honored that Assistant Secretary Echo Hawk has given me this opportunity to work with him and Secretary Salazar in supporting tribes and their efforts for economic self-determination,” Atkinson said. “I look forward to working with the Assistant Secretary’s team and with tribal leaders on addressing the challenges to improving economic and employment conditions in Indian country.”

Atkinson has working in public, private and non-profit sectors from the Department of the Interior previously to president of a consulting firm in Washington D.C. She was also the first executive director of the Native American Contractors Association (NACA).

Atkinson earned her undergraduate degree from Stanford University and her law degree in 1987 from the University of New Mexico School of Law, where she was a member of the Natural Resource Journal law review, graduating with honors.

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