Meet Our Staff

The dynamic teamwork of AIANTA's staff, Board of Directors, funders, partners, consultants and members is the most significant driver in pursuing and realizing our mission.  Our staff and consultants have experience working in Indian Country travel and tourism as well as expertise in economic and program development, rural planning and marketing.
 

Who is Who?


Camille L. Ferguson, Executive Director

Camille L. Ferguson is Tlingit from the Kiksadi Clan and a member of the Sitka Tribe of Alaska. She studied business and village management at Sheldon Jackson College. She served as the Economic Development Director for Sitka Tribe of Alaska for 15 years, 1996-2012. She established, expanded and managed the tribe's Tourism Department, Transportation Department, Gaming Department, Tribal Tannery and Community House Convention Facility and oversaw a $6.5 million economic development budget.

Camille began her 26-year career in the visitor industry working for Sitka Tours before rising to direct economic development. She expanded Sitka Tribe of Alaska’s cultural tour program, oversaw the Community House Meeting & Convention Center, gained national recognition for the Naa Kahidi Dancers, established the Made in Sitka Gift Shop, and was instrumental in the development of Sitka’s Public Transit/Tribal Transit system of trolleys, Indian Reservations Roads Program and the Alaska Wild Game Charitable Pull Tab Parlor.

She was president of the Sitka Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) for five of the seven years of her appointment to the CVB Board, and as president, she raised hotel bed tax revenue by 48 percent. She created, organized, fundraised and managed the annual Alaska Heritage and Cultural Tourism Conference, now in its seventh year. Most recently, she was general manager for Shee Atika Corporation’s Totem Square Inn, Sitka's native-owned hotel.

For her work in tourism, the Alaska Travel Industry gave her their highest award in 2011, the Denali Award for Professionalism and Leadership. In 2012 she was the recipient of the Alaska Mobility Coalition's Dan Moreno Award, a special recognition for individuals or tribal organizations that have made significant contributions in support and development of tribal transportation in Alaska. She served on the Alaska Mobility Coalition’s Board of Directors and the Governor’s Coordinated Transportation Task Force.

Camille also served on the AIANTA Board of Directors from 2002-2012 and was President of the AIANTA Board of Directors from 2003-2007. As president, she presided over the hiring of the first AIANTA Executive Director and the opening of the organization's office in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She served as interim executive director of AIANTA from July to December 2011 and became executive director of AIANTA in January, 2013.

Camille and her husband have a wonderful family of three children and seven grandchildren.

Rachel Cromer-Howard, Public Relations and Media Specialist

As AIANTA’s Public Relations and Media Specialist, Rachel is a PR professional focused on delivering results. She has helped national and global organizations and companies achieve their goals by building solid media relationships throughout the country and implementing unique communications strategies for a diverse array of clients.

Rachel brings to AIANTA extensive experience in crafting and executing strategy, plans and programs for companies ranging from small non-profits to multi-million dollar businesses.  Rachel has served as a community relations and media relations specialist for a variety of clients, including a southwestern New Mexico Tribe and several multi-million dollar community development companies. In creating connections between leaders, the community and the media, Rachel has helped facilitate and execute crucial community relations, media relations and outreach campaigns. Her dedicated work ethic makes her a strong member of the AIANTA team.

Through her social media and media relations work in industries ranging from real estate development and sporting organizations to international politics, Rachel has become a strong, yet flexible writer and team member.

Before joining AIANTA, Rachel honed in on her media production expertise working for a television station where she managed and created television commercials and promotions. Here, Rachel was also instrumental in the strategic development of advertising campaigns and promotional events.

Rachel is a graduate from the University of New Mexico, where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communication and Journalism, with a concentration in Strategic Communication, and was an active member and leader of various PR organizations.

Sandra Anderson, IT & Website Development Coordinator

Sandra  Anderson started as an AIANTA intern in 2012 and soon after was AIANTA's membership coordinator. She is now the IT & Website Development Coordinator at AIANTA.  NativeAmerica.travel, Indian Country's First Destination Website, is one of many projects Sandra continues to build on and will continue to work on until all 573 tribes are on the destination website. 

Originally from Fort Defiance, Arizona, Sandra is a citizen of the Navajo Nation and is from the Towering House clan and born for the Towering House clan. Her maternal grandfather is from the Meadow People clan and her paternal grandfather is from the Bitter Water clan.

Sandra received her Bachelor of Arts degree in anthropology and a second Bachelor of Arts degree in Native American studies from the University of New Mexico (UNM) in Albuquerque, NM. She completed her Masters in Community and Regional Planning (MCRP) with an emphasis in Indigenous Planning (iD+Pi). Sandra plans to concentrate on community-based tourism projects to encourage economic development within Indian Country. 

She is a proud mother of two, Dru and Davina Anderson.

Gail E. Chehak, Outreach Coordinator

Gail E. Chehak is a Klamath Tribal member who has worked extensively in the areas of tribal arts, tourism, economic development and environmental protection. She has served a number of tribal organizations, including the National Congress of American Indians, Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians and the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. Gail co-authored Native Peoples of the NW: Traveler’s Guide to Land, Art & Culture, while working as Arts & Tourism Coordinator for the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians. She also represented ATNI and served as Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber's Delegate to the Washington, D.C. White House Conference on Travel & Tourism in 1995.

Early in her career, she realized fundraising and grant writing were critical skills needed to develop programs for tribal communities. She worked with the Tribal Sovereignty Project (now known as Seventh Generation Fund) to coordinate grant writing workshops for Oregon Tribes. She was subsequently asked to serve on the McKenzie River Gathering Foundation Board of Directors. Later she became President and began networking with other foundations.

Gail has successfully raised funds from federal and state programs, foundations, corporations, churches and individuals. She has coordinated a number of fundraising events, including auctions, membership campaigns and trade shows. She has served on the grants review panels for the Administration for Native Americans (Health & Human Services), Social, Economic Development Strategies; the Corporation for National Service Programs (AmeriCorps), Non-Profit & State Competitive Grants and State Set Aside Grants; the National Parks Service Historic Preservation Fund for Indian Tribes; the Department of Education, Library Services Special Programs to Indian Tribes; and the Department of Health & Human Services, Indian Health Service Scholarships. Most recently, she served on the Albuquerque Community Foundation review panel for the arts.

Active in the community, Gail serves as Board Secretary for the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of New Mexico, as the local representative of the American Made Alliance and as a Board Member of the Old Town Albuquerque Merchants Association where she works with a coalition of artists, galleries and businesses to promote authentic American Indian art. She provides support to the Santo Domingo Pueblo for the re-opening of its historic Trading Post in the spring of 2013, and to the American Indian Business Association at the University of New Mexico to coordinate a Native art market during American Indian month in November.

Sherrie Bowman, Office and Administrative Manager

Sherrie Bowman is a tribal member from the Pueblo of Laguna, New Mexico. She comes to AIANTA with more than 18 years of experience in the hospitality and tourism industry. Starting off at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in 1985 she worked as a sales associate in the gift shop and was later promoted to work as the facilities coordinator where she handled the rental and coordination of meeting rooms which included banquets, luncheons, conference off site functions, and weddings. Later she was promoted to the special events coordinator/public relations representative.

As special events coordinator she was responsible for all special events at the center some of which included arts and crafts shows, American Indian Week activities, America Japan Week co-sponsored by the sister city of Albuquerque, Veteran’s Day celebration, Multi-Cultural Festival, Senior Citizen’s Day and many other events throughout the year. After 13 years she left and went to work for the New Mexico Indian Tourism Association (NMITA) as the administrative assistant. At that time NMITA hosted and coordinated the first annual American Indian Tourism Conference (AITC).

She also assisted with the development of Indian Tourism Interviews with New Mexico Tribal Governments. In 2000, she left to become the marketing coordinator for the Pueblo of Laguna’s Dancing Eagle Casino. She supervised a casino host team, the Player’s Club, and sales promotions where she assisted with the development and creation of a player tracking program, department policies & procedures and adherence to Internal Controls; communicated and implemented programs with the Director of Marketing; worked with the Gaming Control Board in adhering to all policies and procedures for all promotions in obtaining their approval; responsible gaming representative for the Responsible Gaming Association of New Mexico; and trade show coordination.

Prior to her work with AIANTA, Sherrie worked for the Pueblo of Sandia for six years as an administrative coordinator for a grant funded program. Sherrie has an associate of applied science degree is hospitality & tourism and an associate degree in liberal arts. Sherrie is a proud mother of three children, Helen, Ryan, and Jontel and is “Nana” to her three grandchildren, Dakota, Daisha and DeAndre.

Hannah Peterson, Development Director

Hannah is a dedicated development professional excited to work toward furthering the mission of the AIANTA.  In her new role of Development Director, she brings extensive experience in working with a wide variety of nonprofits to help them realize their program outcomes and resource development goals.  Hannah is committed to a holistic perspective and approach to growing the work and impact of AIANTA.  She was raised in Anchorage, Alaska and received her degree in English from the University of Washington, Seattle and her Master of Public Administration from Hamline University, Minnesota.  In this new position, Hannah will spearhead development efforts as AIANTA continues to grow.

Russell F. Pedro, International Outreach Coordinator

Russell F. Pedro is a member of the Pueblo of Laguna, Village of Paraje – one of the 19 Pueblo Indian Tribes of New Mexico, located 45 miles west of Albuquerque.  Russell is passionate about helping and promoting Native Youth, Native Small Business, Community and Economic Development and Native Tourism. The motto he follows is: ACCESS to Capital + ACCESS to Opportunities = Job Creation & Community/Economic Development. 

Russell brings over a decade of experience to the AIANTA team.  Before joining AIANTA, he was the the Business Development Specialist for the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of New Mexico (AICCNM) and Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Business Center, where he assisted small business from all walks of life with Government Certifications including SAM Registration, Hub Zone Certifications, SBA 8(a) Certifications, Minority and Women-Owned and SDB Certifications. He also assist both members and clientele with Loan and Financial Packaging, Lines-of-Credit, Bonding, Insurance, Procurement Assistance, Procurement Packaging, Exporting and Power Networking. Russell also served on the Native American Training Institute (NATI) and Giving Tree Learning Center Board of Directors.

He believes that it is vital that we invest in our youth – that we inspire, encourage and give them good examples to look up to. Russell composed three Annual ‘Youth’ Summits to allow Native students an experience that provides insight and exposure to the success that exists within our Tribal communities and the community at large. Each youth summit was designed to present learning opportunities through impact sessions on leadership, entrepreneurship, financial literacy, art, media, film, marketing and community resources, mentorships, internships and scholarships available to students. Each session was created to motivate, encourage and show students how they can become strong leaders, smart entrepreneurs, and to find their passion to make a difference in their community. 

‘We need to remind ourselves that it is critical we pass down our language, our religion, our ceremonies, our dances, our prayers, our knowledge, ourselves, but also keep an open mind to learning from them (our Youth), listening to their questions, their points of view, their knowledge, their hearts, minds and souls.’

Russell was the recipient of the “Native American 40 Under 40” award from the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development and was also awarded a American Indian Entrepreneurial Leadership Award from the American Indian Business Association (AIBA). Most recently, he was selected as one of the 50 Faces of Indian Country. He is a proud father of his children – Julius, Max and Keanna Lane and leaves us with this statement: ‘Hush’dra’meh / Goo’meh – Stay Strong, Be Strong’