AIANTA Board of Directors
To represent all of Indian Country, the AIANTA Board of Directors is composed of two representatives from six designated regions: Alaska, Eastern, Midwest, Pacific, Plains and Southwest, as well as two At-Large directors.
Each representative is elected by their respective region to serve a three-year term. At-Large representatives are elected by the entire AIANTA membership.
Each member of our Board of Directors brings varied expertise and resources to the organization and many of our valued Board members serve on other national advisory boards, state cabinets and commissions that all work to strengthen Indian Country tourism.
President, Southwest Region
Emerson R. Vallo hails from the Pueblo of Acoma and is currently the Principal Systems Engineer for the Air Force’s Distributed Mission Operations Center’s Modeling and Simulation enterprise. He is responsible for developing, evaluating and testing existing and new components or systems to determine integration requirements and to ensure final solutions meet organizational requirements in accordance with system/sub-system specification (requirements) documents. He was formally the Chief Executive Officer for the Isleta Business Corporation; overseeing and managing all aspects of the Isleta Business Corporation, which includes oversight of the workforce, all company assets, existing businesses and future business development opportunities. He is an Air Force veteran with over 24 years of service. He has been an active board member of the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) for six years.
Emerson was appointed to the New Mexico Tourism Department as a Commissioner by then-Governor Susana Martinez and is the Native representative for tourism in the state of New Mexico. He has served as Chairman of the Board of Directors for Acoma Business Enterprises, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Haak’u Museum and Director for Sky City Cultural Center and Museum.
His interests lie in the economic development of his pueblo, the welfare of his native lands, the promotion of cultural tourism in New Mexico and all of Indian Country.
He received his Executive MBA from Anderson School of Management, University of New Mexico and his Masters of Science degree in Information Systems Management and Bachelor of Science degree in Information Technology from the University of Phoenix.
Vice President, Plains Region
In his role, Travis also oversees corporate sponsorship and employee volunteerism for Cherokee Nation Businesses and its more than 6,000 employees.
Before joining Cherokee Nation Businesses in early 2008, Travis worked for the Cherokee Nation Commerce Department and primarily focused on rural community development through tourism, including agritourism, entrepreneurial development and Scenic Byway development. Travis holds a Bachelors of Business Administration with a specification in Tourism Management and Masters of Business Administration. Travis currently serves on the board of directors for Preservation Oklahoma and the American Indian Alaskan Native Tourism Association. Travis has also served on the board for Fab Lab Tulsa and the Tulsa Children’s Museum. In 2016, Travis was named one of Oklahoma Magazine’s 40 under 40.
Secretary, Southwest Region
In 2010, James began working for the Moenkopi Developers Corporation as the Marketing & Sales Associate for the Moenkopi Legacy Inn & Suites. Within two short years, he was elevated to the position of Marketing & Special Events Manager, was selected as the Project Manager for the Hopi Arts Trail Project, and received the 2012 Manager of the Year Award for his efforts within the Moenkopi Legacy Inn & Suites organization.
James believes that only through true cooperation and the absence of politics can we move forward in achieving economic stability for Indian country. Bringing opportunities to the reservation versus looking for opportunities off the reservation is key in building a sustainable future for our communities.
James resides in Tuba City Arizona with his family and continues to work in supporting the Moenkopi Developers Corporation vision of a better, sustainable, economic future for the Upper Village of Moenkopi and the Hopi reservation.
Lora Ann Chaisson
Treasurer, Eastern Region
Lora Ann is a new member of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Native American Employment and Training Council. She has also worked with the Inter-Tribal Council of Louisiana/Institute for Indian Development, a regional Workforce Investment Board, for 25 years, and currently serves as a board member and representative for Native Americans. She is also a proud alumnus of the American Indian Opportunity Ambassador Program, a national organization that provides capacity building and leadership development for Native American professionals looking to grow their communities.
Lora Ann is the daughter of Theo and the late Betty Chaisson and is a part-owner of Isle de Jean Charles Marina, Inc. During her free time, she enjoys teaching friends and family about traditional Houma cooking and makes unique pieces of jewelry from the hide of the alligator and scales from the alligator garfish. She is also a proud traditional basket weaver. In 2020, she will mark her 39th consecutive year exhibiting at the signature Louisiana event, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage
Linda has worked with corporations such as Anheuser Busch, T-Mobile and Constellation Brands. Creating road maps for beverages, brand strategizing, re-branding and taking marketing to the next level for larger impact. Coordinating land use planning, economic development and community participation to develop and improve tourism. Identifying and articulating market requirements that define a product’s feature and planning.
Linda is an outdoor enthusiast enjoying fishing, hiking and water sports to name a few. Cultural artist, indigenous foodie and sports fan. A proud Yurok Tribal member that hopes to develop tourism and brand identity for Yurok Country.
Camille L. Ferguson
Previously, she served as Executive Director of AIANTA for more than six years. Under her direction, AIANTA expanded its international marketing and outreach program and also grew its training programs; improved its public outreach program, broadened its public lands partnership program and was instrumental in gaining support for the passage of the NATIVE Act along with the advocacy needed to support the appropriation to implement the unfunded mandate. Her work as executive director for AIANTA was completed with the signing of the MOU with the Department of Interior and securing a cooperative agreement with the Bureau of Indian Affairs
Ferguson, a citizen of the Sitka Tribe of Alaska and a member of the Kiksadi Clan continues to serve on the National Advisory Committee on Transportation Tourism Infrastructure (NACTTI) and was recently elected to the U.S. Travel Association’s Board of Directors, only the second-ever Native American to serve on that board. Her three-year period will run through 2021. During her term, she plans to augment her work with elected officials in advocating for the importance of including tribal tourism in the national tourism message.
Mary is known for her art. Her art includes contemporary carved and woven jewelry using traditional materials and metals, it also includes installation art, film and television projects. Mary’s hobby www.forestfreshalaska.com promotes knowledge and cooking tips utilizing indigenous foods from the rainforest to the ocean forest.
Mary received a degree of completion at school at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York. She worked on various film television productions such as Fireproof, The Grace Card, ABC’s show Lost, and she was also a Producer and Camera Woman for the show Coast Guard Alaska.
Mary not only has a passion for the arts, but also for youth, she worked as a Family Teacher for Father Flanagan’s Boys and Girls Home and she continues to be involved with community outreaches. Currently Mary lives in Sitka with her husband Lucas and their son Ryker and nephew Tyson. She continues to work on art and film projects.
The Oneida Nation has a vast array of tourism initiatives including, the Oneida Nation Museum, Tsyunkehkwa (a holistic retail entity), a Buffalo Farm as well as an Oneida Cultural Heritage Department. They also have a Business Development Unit which operates their One Stop Convenience Centers and gas stations throughout the reservation.
Crystal’s markets include Tribal, Association and Government. Crystal holds a Bachelor’s degree is in Management and Communication and has a Master’s in Management and Organizational Behavior. She has previously served on the Native American Tourism of Wisconsin as well as the Green Bay Children’s Museum Board.
She returned to Alaska and started an office furniture business that received an SBA 8A Certification. After selling the business, she worked for the Sitka Tribe of Alaska as the Youth Program Coordinator and was named Sitka Woman of the Year in 2003 while working at a boarding school.
In 2009 Rachel was elected to the Sitka Tribe of Alaska and named as representative to the Tribal Health Consortium, which employs more than 1,000 people with an annual budget of over $108,000,000.
She was elected to the Executive Committee and Accreditation Governing Body for the SEARHC Board. Currently, she serves as chair on the following STA standing committees; Health Committee, Enrollment, the Boys and Girls Club, Sitka Tribal Enterprises, of Audit and Finance and holds the position on the tribal council as Secretary/Treasurer.
In 2010 she was named as one of two Women of Distinction by the Sitka Tribe of Alaska.
Jamie began her career in the NBC Television newsroom in Spokane and advanced throughout the ranks to become the Assignment Manager leading a team of reporters and photographers. Jamie quickly learned how to use the mainstream media to focus a positive spotlight on the many important stories, people, and issues within Indian Country. Ms. Sijohn has 20+ years of media experience on a variety of platforms including traditional media, social media and public relations. All of which benefit the Spokane Tribe and other tribal clients.
He has served multiple terms on the National Advisory Council for DINAP (Division of Indian and Native American Programs) for the US Department of Labor. Under his leadership, the Urban Indian Agency has serviced thousands of tribal members with career training and placement and resulted in over 15,000 associates and bachelor’s degrees for low-income Native Americans. His offices include Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware and New York which includes Indian Health Services.
Darrell has been a visionary throughout his long career and is respected for his strong voice at a bureaucratic level to include Native people in the narrative of modern America.
He was the Founder and President of the American Indian Community Development Corporation in Rhode Island, whose mission it is to implement economic development strategies for job growth.
Darrell has also served on the Rhode Island Governor’s Board, Providence Police Advisory Board; Omni Housing Development Corporation Board; Chair of Harbor Heritage Museum Board of Directors; American Indian Health Care Association Steering Committee; Tribal Vocational Rehabilitation Program Advisory Council; Workforce Partnership of Greater Rhode Island Board and the Providence/ Cranston Workforce Investment Board.
His dedication for his community comes not from the need for recognition but from a greater vision for a better life for Native people.
A Warm Thank You to Our Partners