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Tony L. Dearman, Director

Tony Dearman, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, serves as the Director. He has served in this position since November 2016. Dearman brings more than two decades of experience as a teacher, coach, and administrator in BIE operated and tribally controlled schools. He began his career in education in 1993 at Sequoyah High School as a science teacher and coach. Sequoyah is a boarding school operated by the Cherokee Nation located in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. He served as the principal at Sequoyah High School from 2004-2005. In January of 2006, Dearman accepted the leadership role of Superintendent at Riverside Indian School. Riverside is an off-reservation boarding school operated by the Bureau of Indian Education. It serves grades 4-12 and is located in Anadarko, Oklahoma.

From 2008-2009 he was the acting Education Line Officer for the Seattle, Washington office. While in this position, Dearman worked with nine tribally controlled schools and one BIE operated off-reservation boarding school. From 2009-2010 he served as the Education Line Officer for the BIE New Mexico South office. While serving the New Mexico South office, he worked with four tribally controlled and five BIE operated schools.

In 2010, Dearman returned to Riverside Indian School as the Superintendent. During Dearman’s tenure at Riverside, he participated in the development and planning of a new academic high school building and two residential dormitories. He remained in this position until November of 2015 when he was selected as the Associate Deputy Director of BIE Operated Schools. While serving in this position, he assisted in the implementation of the BIE reorganization and reform to improve services to students. As Associate Deputy Director, he oversaw 17 schools, four off-reservation boarding schools, and one peripheral dormitory spanning across eight states.

Dearman earned an Associate of Arts degree from Bacone College in Muskogee, Oklahoma. He received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education and a Master’s degree in School Administration from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. His duty location and office are located in Washington, DC.

Director Dearman

Sharon Pinto, Deputy Bureau Director for School Operations

Sharon Pinto serves as the Deputy Bureau Director for BIE School Operations (as of August 2018). She manages the BIE Budget, acquisitions, grants management, safety management, environmental and facilities-related issues of direct concern to BIE schools. Pinto is the resource for school administrators to resolve administrative operations questions, fast track priorities, implement best practices and meet audit requirements.

Previously, she served as the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Navajo Regional Director, holding that position since October 2011. Pinto provided direction and oversight for transportation, realty, water resources, forestry, natural resources, oil and gas, irrigation, probate, environmental, fire management and administrative operations. Prior to becoming the regional director, Pinto had been serving as the deputy regional director for the Navajo Region since October 2007, where she was responsible for providing oversight and management of BIA regional trust resource management and tribal services programs.

Pinto began her federal career in October 2001 as an Indian Self-determination Officer with the BIA’s Southwest Regional Office in Albuquerque, NM. As an expert in Public Law 93-638, Pinto provided training to BIA and tribal employees, worked to develop and implement the national contract support cost policy and handled various ‘638 contracts with Tribes. Before her federal career, Pinto served in several capacities within the Navajo Nation government with the Office of the Prosecutor, the Navajo Housing Authority, and the Office of Navajo Women and Children. She also served within the New Mexico State government under the District Attorney’s office, working with victims of crime.

Pinto is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in Sociology from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. Her duty location and office are located in Albuquerque, NM.


Margo DeLaune, Associate Deputy Director - Division of Performance & Accountability, (Acting) Chief Academic Officer (CAO)

Margo DeLaune is currently the Associate Deputy Director for the Division of Performance & Accountability. This Division has oversight responsibility for local educational agencies (LEAs)/schools received federal education monies from the U.S. Department of Education Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA) formula and discretionary grants. In addition, DPA has oversight responsibilities of LEAs/schools receiving federal education monies from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2001 (IDEA). As part of the oversight responsibilities of DPA, the Division oversees the programmatic and fiscal monitoring and technical assistance to LEAs receiving these grant monies. 

Ms. DeLaune has been with the Bureau of Indian Education since 2016 and has worked extensively in education, primarily with the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) programs, since 1974. Ms. DeLaune is of Kiowa and Citizen Band Potawatomie heritage. She has received her Ed.M. from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education in Higher Education Planning, Administration and Social Policy. She received her A.B. from Franklin & Marshall College located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.       
Previously she worked from:

  • 1974 to 1980 for the National Advisory Council on Indian Education (NACIE), Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE), U.S. Department of Education (US ED). NACIE is a 15 board member presidentially appointed advisory council authorized by section 7141 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), 20 U.S.C. 7871. The Council advises the Secretary of Education concerning the funding and administration (including the development of regulations and administrative policies and practices) of any program established under Title VI, Part A of the ESEA, with respect to which the Secretary has jurisdiction, including Indian children or adults as participants or that may benefit Indian children or adults.

In addition to the legislative experience Ms. DeLaune had at NACIE, she worked for the National Governors Association (NGA) in the Social, Economic and Workforce Division where her primary work was to research information for NGA policy positions that would ensure Governors’ views were represented in the shaping of federal policy, federal laws and regulations.

  • From 2004 to 2016 Ms. DeLaune served as the Federal Program Director for the Georgia State Department of Education.
  • From 2001 to 2004 Ms. DeLaune served as the Executive Director for Dyersburg State Community College’s satellite campus located in Trenton, Tennessee.
  • From 1996 to 2001 Margo worked for the Oklahoma City Community College writing and receiving a U.S. Department of Education discretionary grant to implement an Upward Bound TRIO program for at-risk, disadvantaged students in five of Oklahoma City’s highest gang related schools.
  • From 1983 to 1996 Ms. DeLaune worked for the American Indian Research and Development Inc. providing monitoring and technical assistance to public school districts receiving Title I monies for American Indian/Alaskan Native students nationwide.
  • From 1981 to 1983 Margo held the position as Assistant Dean of the Summer Programs for Colorado College. Her primary responsibilities were overseeing of summer programs for disadvantaged American Indian/Alaskan Native students in the engineering and science department. In addition to overseeing transition programs for incoming freshmen.

As you can tell from Ms. DeLaune’s resume her work experience has been concentrated at helping at-risk, disadvantaged students improve their academic potential to better improve their lives and the communities in which those students live.

The Associate Deputy Director for the Division of Performance and Accountability (DPA)supports the BIE and its schools by providing oversight of BIE funds from the U.S. Department of Education, as well as supporting fiscal management and the provision of special education services.

In her role as Acting Chief Academic Officer, her primary duties are related to Academic Content Standards, Assessments, and Accountability for the Bureau-funded schools.


Travis Clark, Chief of Staff

Travis Clark (Tzi-Zho-Ki-He-Kah) is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation and Cherokee Nation and originally hails from Oklahoma. Mr. Clark came to the BIE in 2016 and currently serves as the Chief Performance Officer. In this capacity, Mr. Clark leads a diverse and highly motivated team responsible for ensuring that the BIE achieves its strategic goals through data-informed decision-making.   

Mr. Clark graduated magna cum laude from Rogers State University in 2011 and received his law degree from the University of St. Thomas in 2014. Prior to his service at the BIE, Mr. Clark served as an associate attorney representing numerous tribal governments, tribal K-12 schools, and two tribal colleges as general counsel. Additionally, Mr. Clark served as a law clerk at the Native American Rights Fund and the Office of the Solicitor's Division of Indian Affairs. Prior to his BIE and legal career, Mr. Clark served as a paramedic in the Cherokee Nation.

His duty location and office are located in Washington, DC.


Dr. Maureen Lesky, Program Manager (PM) for The Strategic Transformation of Education Plan (STEP)

Dr. Maureen Lesky (Choctaw, Kiowa and Comanche) is the Acting Chief Academic Officer for the Bureau of Indian Education. Her career as an educator spans 25 years as a teacher, education research analyst, and program manager.

Dr. Lesky holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Science from San Jose State University with an emphasis in elementary education, a Master of Arts degree in Organizational Learning and Instructional Technology from the University of New Mexico, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction from New Mexico State University. Dr. Lesky currently holds an administrative license and a teaching license with a TESOL and Instructional Technology endorsement from the State of New Mexico.


Hankie P. Ortiz, Associate Deputy Director - Bureau Operated Schools

Hankie Ortiz serves as the Associate Deputy Director - Bureau Operated Schools (BOS). She is an enrolled member of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma and is also Caddo and Comanche from Oklahoma. In her current role, she is responsible for all schools operated by the BIE outside of the Navajo Nation, including four off-reservation boarding schools, two on-reservation boarding schools, a dormitory, and sixteen-day schools. Ortiz works with the schools through four Education Resource Centers (ERCs): Albuquerque ERC, Belcourt ERC, Phoenix ERC, and Pine Ridge ERC.

Prior to her current position, Ortiz served for six years as the Deputy Bureau Director, Indian Services for the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), reporting directly to the BIA Director. In that position, she was responsible for all headquarters activities associated with support for tribal people and tribal governments, including five BIA Divisions: Transportation, Human Services, Self-Determination, Tribal Government Services, and Workforce Development. Ortiz holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Montana, Alexander Blewett III School of Law in Missoula (1995) and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of Oklahoma in Norman (1991). Her first Senior Executive position was Director, Office of Tribal Self-Governance, Indian Health Service, Rockville, MD where she served for six years. Prior to that, she worked as an attorney in the Office of the General Counsel in the Department of Health and Human Services for 10 years, in Region IX San Francisco and in the headquarters office in Rockville, MD, advising the Indian Health Service.       
Her duty location and office are located in Albuquerque, NM.


Cherie Poitra, Associate Deputy Director - Tribally Controlled Schools

The Associate Deputy Director of Tribally Controlled Schools, Dr. Cherie Poitra is an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. She was born and raised on the Indian Reservation in Belcourt, ND. Currently, Dr. Poitra resides in Belcourt, ND with her five children and two granddaughters. Dr. Poitra and her children are all graduates of a Tribally Controlled School.

Before joining BIE in April 2018, Dr. Poitra served as a School Superintendent and Special Education Director. Dr. Poitra has spent her entire 27-year career in Indian Education serving as a paraprofessional, educator, and administrator. Dr. Poitra began her career as a paraprofessional at Turtle Mountain Community High School, then became a special education instructor. While employed by the Belcourt School District, Dr. Poitra earned her Superintendent, K-12 principal certificate, Special Education Director certificate, and Doctor of Education.

Dr. Poitra’s lifelong goal has been to recraft Indian Education and to empower Tribal Communities by supporting their pedagogy and curricula that is tailored to their indigenous teachings. Our children are walking in two worlds that are often very difficult to maneuver through. They are facing an enormous amount of social pressure for being different. This can have an adverse effect on their self-identity, which can have an impact on their life choices and educational outcomes. Therefore, it is critical that students develop a strong sense of self and embrace the cultural teachings that make them all so very special. As the Associate Deputy Director of Tribally Controlled Schools, it is my honor and privilege to partner with our Tribal Nations in supporting them in exercising self-determination through education. Tribally Controlled Schools are the corner stones for preserving and carrying on our teachings. As they are exercising self-determination, they are addressing their educational needs and building future leaders and members that will advocate for and sustain self-determining independence.

Dr. Poitras holds a Doctor of Education degree, a master’s degree in special education, and a double bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and Early Childhood from the University of North Dakota.   

The Associate Deputy Director for Tribally Controlled Schools supports BIE-funded schools, not directly operated by the BIE, that are tribally controlled and works with schools through Education Resource Centers that serve 98 tribally controlled schools across 23 states.


Emily Arviso, Associate Deputy Director - Navajo Schools

Enrolled member of the Navajo “Dine” Nation, I am of the Toa’hani’ Clan (Near the Water), born for the Ts’yisk’dnii’ Clan (Sage Brush Hill). My maternal clan is Ta’baahi (Water’s Edge), and my paternal clan is Tse’nahabil’nii’ (Sleep Rock People).   

I am honored and humbled to serve in this new position as the Associate Deputy Director of Navajo BIE. My 34 years of educational services started in the public school system as an elementary teacher, eventually becoming a principal at the elementary and high school levels. I also served as an elected official in the capacity of a public-school board member. In 2009, I joined the Bureau of Indian Education starting as a principal at Hunters Point Boarding School, and later joining the BIE administrative team as a, Education Program Specialist, and the Special Assistant to the Associate Deputy Director. Through my multiple roles and important work with my colleagues, I am aware and conscious of the strong contributions of families, educators and Tribal Leaders who inform my work and help to guide the goals that I have long established. As the new Associate Deputy Director, my goal is to continue to lead our staff, support the BIE Strategic Direction and Priorities and work tirelessly to serve our Navajo children in leading and providing them with high quality academic and cultural opportunities to be successful. Our children deserve our very best every day!   

The Associate Deputy Director - Navajo Schools supports both BIE-operated and tribally controlled schools serving the Navajo Nation as well as manages Education Resource Centers that serve the Navajo Nation.


Dr. Francis Arpan, (Interim) President Haskell University

His duty location and office are located in Lawrence, KS.


Dr. Tamarah Pfeiffer, President Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute

Dr. Tamarah Pfeiffer (Dinế) serves as the Acting President of Haskell University. Her career as an educator encompasses more than 43 years as a teacher and administrator in public, grant and contract schools.   

Dr. Pfeiffer holds a Bachelors of Arts in Education from the University of New Mexico (1990) with an emphasis teaching English as a Foreign Language, a Masters of Arts in English from the Breadloaf School of English (1999), and a Doctorate of Education with a specialization in Educational Administration and American Indians from the Pennsylvania State University (2006).

In her role as President, Pfeiffer recognizes the importance of leadership, maximizing employees strengths, motivating, team building and implementing a sound vision to achieve educational success.   

Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute is located in Albuquerque, NM.


Juanita Mendoza, Special Assistant to the Director

Juanita Mendoza has worked at the BIE for more than 11 years. She currently serves as the Special Assistant to the Director and provides program and policy coordination and oversight of special projects on behalf of the Director. 

Prior to working at the BIE, Mendoza served as an advocate for tribal clients on Indian education legislative and policy matters. She has extensive experience supporting tribes and tribal organizations through her work with federal agencies in the Washington, DC area, including the Indian Health Services and the National Indian Gaming Commission.

Juanita Mendoza is an enrolled member of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona. Mendoza attended the University of Maryland at College Park where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Anthropology. She earned her Masters of Arts in Business Management from the University of Maryland, University College. During her time as an undergraduate she served as the President and Vice President of the University of Maryland’s Native American Student Union.

Mendoza lives in Maryland with her two sons. Her duty location and office are located in Washington, DC.


Jackie Shamblin, Human Resource Officer

Jackie Shamblin has served as the BIE Human Resources Officer (HRO) at the BIE since 2018. He was born and raised in Oklahoma and brings more than 30 years of expertise in human resources and labor relations. Shamblin previously worked for the U.S. Department of Navy (Atlantic) as their Command Human Resources Director; Agency Employee and Labor Relations Officer for the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco GA; and Senior Employee Relations Specialist and Director of Human Resources Operations for the Food Safety Inspection Service in Minneapolis, MN. In the Director role, he had oversight of staffing, recruitment, benefits, payroll and the Delegated Examining units. 

Prior, Shamblin was the HRO for the Veterans Administration Medical Center located in Augusta, GA for three years where he managed staffing and recruitment, employee/labor relations, payroll, processing and records, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP), benefits, and position management. He also spent time overseas in South Korea for the Department of the Army as an Employee and Labor Relations Specialist. Shamblin served as a Supervisory Employee and Labor Relations Officer and a Staff Development Training Specialist with Indian Health Services. 

Shamblin is a military veteran and a former Federal Law Enforcement Officer. His duty location and office are located in Albuquerque, NM.


Jennifer Bell, Communications Director and Specialist

The Communications Specialist supports BIE Director's office, three regional Associate Deputy Director’s offices and Education Resource Centers. Works as a liaison with the Indian Affairs Public Affairs Office, media, the public, and other Federal and state agencies to provide information on BIE's programs and activities.

Ventura Lovato, (Acting) Chief Performance Officer


Kylie Morden, Supervisory Administrative Officer

Kylie Morden serves as the Administrative Officer supporting the Director and Central Office staff. She manages scheduling for the Director and Chief of Staff. 

Ms. Morden graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree from Siena Heights University located in Adrian, MI. Prior to joining the BIE, she worked in state government for 16 years as a supervisor and staff trainer with the central focus on driving change to make the work environment and organizational culture the top priority. She strives for employee engagement and inclusion, professional and personal development opportunities for herself and staff, and serving others to the best of her abilities. She is enthusiastic about BIE's vision and mission in excellence, focus, integrity, respect, and providing the best possible service to its students and schools. 

Her duty location and office are located in Washington, DC.

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