Technical Assistance


Tedd Buelow

Federal Funding for Tribal Communities
Tuesday February 13 2:00 - 3:30 PM

Native American Coordinator
U.S. Department of Agriculture

Tedd Buelow is the Tribal Relations Team Lead for USDA Rural Development (RD). In this role he leads the Tribal team within the Innovation Center’s Strategic Engagement Division that works to increase access to RD's programs for Tribe's, Tribal citizens, and organizations focused on improving the quality of life and economic opportunity throughout Indian Country and Alaska. In between stints at USDA Tedd worked for the CDFI Fund on the Native American Program team. Prior to that he worked for USDA RD’s Community Development Programs as a desk officer for the NW region. Tedd began his federal career as a volunteer with the Peace Corps in the Eastern High Atlas National Park in Morocco.

Elena Gonzales

Investing in Affordable Housing on Tribal Lands
Tuesday July 9 2:00 - 3:30 PM

Chief Operating Officer
Homewise Inc.

Elena has over 30 years of experience in the affordable homeownership arena here in New Mexico. She is a native New Mexican and joined Homewise in 2014. At Homewise, she is responsible for the oversight and management of the core operations, including homebuyer preparation, real estate sales and lending. Elena also serves on the Board of Directors for the Opportunity Finance Network.

Elena was previously an Executive Director of a non-profit organization that helped people with disabilities become homeowners. She has earned a BBA from the University of New Mexico.

Elena is a fierce advocate for underserved populations and works hard to ensure that everyone has a fair shot to own their own home.

Beth Gruber

Empowering Native Entrepreneurs Through Access to Capital
Tuesday April 23 2:00 - 3:30 PM

Director of Planning & Community Engagement
Millie Lacs Corporate Ventures

Beth Gruber is a dynamic and innovative professional known for her creative problem-solving skills. With over three decades of dedicated service to the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures MLCV ecosystem.  Beth's journey is marked by a passion for creating positive change and leaving a lasting impact on the organizations and communities she serves. With a curious and forward-thinking approach, she continues to be a driving force in the success and growth of the community she serves. 
As a key member of the development team at MLCV, Beth takes the lead in planning and executing projects and initiatives. Her ability to drive efficiency and effectiveness in project solutions is unparalleled. Beth excels not only in project management but also in fostering community engagement among numerous stakeholders. Her commitment to building strong relationships extends across all levels of the company, Tribal Government, Mille Lacs Tribal Economy, and the broader Mille Lacs Band Community.

Kristine Laughter

Empowering Native Entrepreneurs Through Access to Capital
Tuesday April 23 2:00 - 3:30 PM

Director of Kinship Lending
Change Labs Inc.

Kristine Laughter, member of the Diné Nation. Kristine, who grew up in Kayenta, spent a brief stint in San Diego before returning to her home community.

She worked for Wells Fargo Bank in Kayenta, as a banker and branch manager. She was also the branch manager at the Winslow branch and the Window Rock branch. She worked at Wells Fargo for nearly 15 years. During her time with Wells Fargo, Kristine saw entrepreneurs struggle to set up bank accounts and utilize other necessary banking services. 

Kristine was part of the team that opened the Navajo Tech Innovation Center-Navajo Technical University's Business Incubator in 2016, where she was responsible for providing assistance to entrepreneurs who utilized the space.

A champion for small business, Kristine is currently the Director of Kinship Lending Program for Change Labs, a non-profit organization that works with Native entrepreneurs operating on Navajo and Hopi lands. Change Labs manages a coworking space in Tuba City, AZ, which includes specially designed programs to help young startups innovate and grow. Kinship Lending provides microloans to Native Entrepreneurs through a relationship based program.

In her spare time, Kristine enjoys hiking and mountain biking with her grandchildren. She currently serves as a Governing Board Member for Northland Pioneer College, where she advocates for equity for all students. She has been a long-time supporter of Navajo Youth Empowerment Services, where she served as a board member for many years. She now volunteers at Navajo YES events which promote a healthy and active lifestyle for the youth on the Navajo Nation.

Onna LeBeau

Federal Funding for Tribal Communities
Tuesday February 13 2:00 - 3:30 PM

U.S. Department of the Interior

Onna LeBeau, a member of the Omaha tribe of Nebraska, serves as the Director of the Office of Indian Economic Development (OIED). Onna comes to the Department of Interior as the former Executive Director of the Black Hills Community Loan Fund since 2015, where she had the honor of expanding the loan fund from a solely homeownership focused non-profit to one that provides the community with options for credit building and business development. Onna’s passion for community development started in 2001 shortly after graduating from Northern state university in Aberdeen SD, with degrees in finance and economics. Onna worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Great Plains Region, office of Economic Development, serving as loan specialist for the BIA loan guarantee program from 2002-2007.

Blythe McWhirter

Investing in Affordable Housing on Tribal Lands
Tuesday July 9 2:00 - 3:30 PM

Legislative and Program Aide
NAIHC (National American Indian Housing Council)

Blythe McWhirter is the Legislative and Program Aide for the National American Indian Housing Council (NAIHC). NAIHC is the only 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization representing tribal housing organizations and interests on a national scale. The organization provides direct training and technical assistance to Tribes and TDHEs and advocates for members' interests on Capitol Hill. As Legislative and Program Aide, Blythe tracks relevant policy and advocacy initiatives, coordinates Congressional visits, and communicates frequently with NAIHC membership through legislative updates and calls-to-action.

Originally from Decatur, GA, Blythe attended Haverford College in Haverford, PA- graduating with a BA in Political Science and a minor in Spanish. Prior to joining NAIHC, Blythe interned at Diamond and Associates in Philadelphia – an affordable housing firm which advises clients applying for the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program and FHLB loans.

Alexandria Murnan

Investing in Affordable Housing on Tribal Lands
Tuesday July 9 2:00 - 3:30 PM

Director of Affordable Housing
Travois New Markets, LLC

Alexandria Murnan (Shawnee Tribe, Cherokee Nation) is the director of affordable housing for Travois, a Certified B Corporation focused exclusively on promoting housing and economic development for American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian communities. Travois has helped clients to develop more than $1.5 billion in housing and economic development projects in 22 states. Alexandria uses her strong background and professional experience in planning, economic development and community development to oversee the day-to-day operations of the Travois affordable housing team. Alexandria and her team help tribes to turn project concepts into competitive applications for Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTCs) and other funding sources, and guide clients through carryover and closing with an equity investor. Alexandria graduated from the University of Kansas with a bachelor’s degree in public administration and American studies. She received a master’s degree in city and regional planning from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Jamie Olson

Empowering Native Entrepreneurs Through Access to Capital
Tuesday April 23 2:00 - 3:30 PM

Director of Lending
Oweesta Corporation

Jamie Olson is the Director of Lending at Oweesta Corporation. Jamie’s 30-year professional career includes 25 years in banking, including branch management & commercial lending and 5 years leading a tribal enterprise. As Vice-President & Commercial Lender for Wells Fargo, Jamie successfully managed a commercial banking portfolio working closely with business owners, government & educational institutions and non-profit organizations as a financial partner and advisor. Jamie’s commercial lending experience includes; commercial real estate, business start-up, business expansion, business acquisition agriculture, equipment and working capital. Jamie served the Nez Perce Tribe as the Enterprise Executive Officer providing leadership and oversight of the Tribal Enterprises including business related economic development. Jamie is a Nez Perce descendant from Lapwai, Idaho. Jamie and her husband Zeke (Nez Perce/Kiowa) currently reside in Clarkston, Washington and have four grown children and four grandchildren. Jamie golfs for fun; however, Zeke is a serious golfer and they compete in the Nimiipuu Golf League and participate in some Native golf tournaments held in the Pacific Northwest. Jamie’s educational experience include a B.S. in Business Administration from Lewis-Clark State College and completion of the Northwest Intermediate Banking School and the Pacific Coast Banking School. Jamie is involved with her alma mater as Vice-President of the Alumni Association, Chair of the Native American Alumni Association (NAAC) and a member of the LC Business Advisory Board. NAAC’s most notable event that Jamie is very involved with is the annual golf tournament that raises needed scholarship funds for Native students attending Lewis-Clark State College.

Zakaria Shaikh

Federal Funding for Tribal Communities
Tuesday February 13 2:00 - 3:30 PM

U.S. Department of the Treasury

Zakaria Shaikh serves as a Consultant to the U.S. Department of the Treasury for the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) where, among other areas, he supports Tribal implementations of the SSBCI Capital Program and Technical Assistance Grant Program. He worked on the first iteration of the SSBCI program as an outreach manager and venture capital subject matter expert for Treasury. Previously, he managed state venture capital programs, and held executive roles in strategy and operations for startups and large private- and public-sector organizations. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in public health from the University of Southern California, and an MBA from the University of Michigan.

Shannon Ward

Empowering Native Entrepreneurs Through Access to Capital
Tuesday April 23 2:00 - 3:30 PM

Senior Vice President, Chief Lending Officer
Native American Bank

Shannon Ward is the Chief Lending Officer and Senior Vice President at Native American Bank. Shannon has over 20 years of experience working in finance related fields, and has specialized in working with and lending to sovereign Indian tribes for the last 13 years. She has first-hand experience working with varied Tribal ownership structures, trust land, and the unique jurisdictional matters Tribal nations encounter when financing on-reservation projects. Prior to joining Native American Bank, Shannon held both a regional management role and the interim division chief position during her tenure with the division of Capital Investment at the U.S Department of Interior. In this capacity, Shannon was responsible for facilitating much-needed access to capital for Native American Tribes, Tribally owned enterprises, and to individual Indian-owned businesses, with the intent of promoting economic development on Native American reservations. Shannon is a graduate of the University of Wyoming with a Bachelor of Science degree in business management, and is a Northern Arapaho tribal member.

Ken Wiseman

Federal Funding for Tribal Communities
Tuesday February 13 2:00 - 3:30 PM

Management and Program Analyst
U.S. Department of Agriculture

Ken Wiseman is a Management and Program Analyst with the Rural Utilities Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Specifically, Ken is assigned to the Telecommunications Program, and he helps manage programs that provide grants and loans to expand broadband service to rural America. Ken grew up in rural North Carolina and joined the Navy after high school. Ken later earned a Master of Public Administration from Old Dominion University. Prior to joining USDA, Ken has worked in both the private and non-profit sectors holding both executive leadership and policy management positions. He currently lives in Virginia and is very active in his community supporting his fellow veterans and those still serving in the military.

CDFA National Sponsors

  • Alliant Insurance Services, Inc.
  • BNY Mellon
  • Bricker Graydon LLP
  • Business Oregon
  • CohnReznick
  • Frost Brown Todd LLP
  • Grow America | Formerly NDC
  • Hawes Hill and Associates LLP
  • Hawkins Delafield & Wood LLP
  • Ice Miller LLP
  • KeyBanc Capital Markets
  • Kutak Rock LLP
  • McGuireWoods
  • MuniCap, Inc.
  • NW Financial Group, LLC
  • PGAV Planners, LLC
  • Raza Development Fund
  • SB Friedman Development Advisors
  • Stifel Nicolaus
  • The Bond Buyer
  • U.S. Bank
  • Wells Fargo Securities
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