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American Indian Higher Education Consortium Prepares for New Leadership

Carrie Billy of the Navajo tribe will take over the position of executive director of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium effective June 1.

She replaces Dr. Gerald Gipp of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, who has served as executive director since 2001. Billy, currently serving as the organization’s deputy director and director of STEM development, has worked in American Indian higher education circles for a number of years. She joined AIHEC for the second time in 2001. An attorney, she served as Federal Relations Counsel for the organization from 1997 to 1998.

From 1998 to 2001, Billy served as the first executive director of the White House Initiative of on Tribal Colleges and Universities under the Clinton administration. During her tenure, TCUs received their largest ever federal funding increase as well as the establishment of the American Indian Teacher Corps Program, the Tribal College Technology Information Program and other important advances in tribal college funding and programming. She is a graduate of the University of Arizona and Georgetown University Law School.

In addition to overseeing the day-to-day operations of the central AIHEC office in her current position, she oversees the American Indian Measures for Success data collection initiative which is defining, collecting and reporting quantitative and qualitative indicators of American Indian student and institution success. She also oversees the Indigenous Evaluation Initiative, a multi-year effort to develop a framing for indigenous evaluation, which will synthesize indigenous ways of knowing and western evaluation practice.

“AIHEC is on the cusp of our growth potential,” Billy says.

She notes that the tribal college movement is maturing and has reached a firm foundation and is now ready to move into new development activities.

“For years our presidents had to focus on day to day survival for their institutions,” she reports. “Now that we’ve done a lot of infrastructure building, we can turn to sustainability,”

She notes that the federal funding for Tribally Controlled College and Assistance Act is, for the first time ever, approaching its initially authorized level. It is now between $400 to $500 per student away from the authorized level.

Gipp is looking forward to retirement somewhere along the Missouri River on the Standing Rock Reservation.

“I’ve been in D.C., on and off, for over 20 years, and that’s too long,” he says.

In looking back over his tenure he is especially proud of his role in the growth of the organization and in the creation of the AIMS initiative.

“The AIMS initiative is critical in telling the story of tribal colleges; it creates a data base that will help people understand the real challenges faced by the colleges,” he says.

He is confident that Billy is well prepared to lead AIHEC.

“We are only caretakers for organizations,” he muses, “it makes it easier to leave if we know a good person will be taking over.”

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