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, board and consultants have experience working in Indian Country travel and tourism as well as expertise in economic and program development, rural planning and marketing.
Sherry L. Rupert
Chief Executive Officer
Sherry L. Rupert, of Paiute and Washoe heritage, joins AIANTA as Chief Executive Officer after an illustrious career with the State of Nevada. Formerly the Executive Director of the State of Nevada Indian Commission, she managed Nevada’s Indian Territory, the state’s official arm for promoting Native American tourism, and created and produced the annual Nevada Tribal Tourism Conference for more than a decade.
Also the former President of AIANTA’s Board of Directors, Sherry brings extensive experience in tribal tourism, economic development, marketing, tribal relations and legislative advocacy. Her work at the national level includes serving on the U.S. Department of Commerce Travel and Tourism Advisory Board (US TTAB) and AIANTA’s Board of Directors since 2010. She is also the recipient of multiple awards for her work in tourism and economic development and she was also instrumental in the passage of the Native American Tourism and Improving Visitor Experience (NATIVE) Act during her tenure as AIANTA Board President.
Program Development Director
Hannah Peterson is the Program Development Director for AIANTA, bringing to the role extensive experience in fundraising and program development. In her role as Development Director, Hannah works to advance the mission of AIANTA through strategic fundraising and program development. Hannah spent more than five years with J Murphy & Associates working as a consultant and grant writer and two years as grants manager for Urban Homeworks, Inc. For more than nine years, she worked as a paralegal working on business litigation, intellectual properties, worker’s compensation and insurance. She was raised in Anchorage, Alaska, and received a degree in English from the University of Washington, Seattle and a Master of Public Administration from Hamline University, Minnesota.
Ariel Richardson, a tribal member of the Walker River Paiute Tribe from Schurz, Nevada, is AIANTA’s Office Manager. With a goal of assisting tribal members to opening Native-owned businesses in order to stimulate self-sustainability and economic development on the reservation, Ariel is especially excited to work for a non-profit agency with similar goals. Ariel’s creative background includes art direction, photography and videography and she has a degree in Applied Science for Natural Resources Management and has also studied Business Administration and Accounting.
Sherrie L. Bowman
Education Support Specialist
Sherrie L. Bowman, AIANTA’s Education Support Specialist organizes the association’s educational events including Go International and the American Indian Tourism Conference, which includes the annual Silent Auction. She also administers the AIANTA Scholarship Program, which provides bi-annual scholarships to Native American students interested in pursuing a career in tourism or hospitality. Formerly AIANTA’s Office and Administrative Manager, Sherrie has been with AIANTA for more than ten years, and is the association’s longest-serving employee.
A tribal member from the Pueblo of Laguna, New Mexico, Sherrie comes to AIANTA with more than 26 years of experience in hospitality, tourism and meeting and event planning. 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.
Marketing & Public Relations Manager
After having spent more than a decade as a journalist with one of the leading travel trade news websites, Monica Poling has turned in her daily byline in order to manage AIANTA’s marketing, public relations and social media efforts. In her role as Public Relations & Media Manager for AIANTA, she will bring more awareness to AIANTA’s programs and resources and more attention to AIANTA members.
Prior to her career in journalism, Monica spent five years promoting international tourism to Korea as the Marketing Manager for the Korea Tourism Organization. Before that, she managed member outreach for the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board.
Membership & Outreach Coordinator
Gail E. Chehak, a Klamath Tribal member, serves as the AIANTA Membership and Outreach Coordinator. She has worked with tribal arts, tourism, economic development and environmental protection for the National Congress of American Indians, Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission and the Indian Arts & Crafts Association. While Arts & Tourism Coordinator for the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, Gail co-authored Native Peoples of the NW: A Traveler’s Guide to Land, Art & Culture. She was the Oregon Governor’s Delegate to the Washington, D.C. White House Conference on Travel & Tourism in 1995.
Bruce is the Travel Writer and Photographer for AIANTA’s Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail project. Bruce is an award-winning author. His published works and biography can be found at BruceRettig.com. As a founding member of Tahoe Writers Works, he served ten years as publisher of their literary journal, EDGE. He served as president of Charter Advertising/Design, Inc. for over thirty-two years. During that time, his duties included copy writing for brochures, magazine ads and websites. Most of his projects featured his photography. With a degree in Fine Arts from the University of Colorado, and an emphasis in photography, he has captured strong images for his clients. He has worked with the Duck Valley Shoshone Paiute Tribe, Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, Ely Shoshone Tribe, Washoe Tribe of California & Nevada, Stewart Indian School, Nevada Indian Commission and Nevada’s Indian Territory.
Lorraine Gala Lewis
Research and Data Specialist
Lorraine is the Researcher for AIANTA’s Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail project. Lorraine is a member of Laguna/Taos/Hopi. She attended both the Institute of American Indian Arts and College of Santa Fe. Her professional experience includes working in economic development and the non-profit sector with the SBA 504 Loan Program; she is familiar with SBA lending, loan programs and resource partnering. Lorraine has also worked with tribal government as well as native organizations and enterprises. Working for Laguna Development Corporation allowed her to interact directly with the tribe, its business partners and enterprises. Higher education has been a vital part of her life. Having worked for the Santa Fe Indian School, she saw the value and impact of a strong foundation for the future of young native students. She currently serves on the Institute of American Indian Arts Foundation Board. She is active with student Scholarship Fundraising efforts as well as supporting the student’s needs to continue their college education.
Supporting the Indigenous Arts and Culture is my livelihood. I’ve been working with clay since high school and have established a viable career in art. Through my work, I am affiliated with museums throughout the county, art programs, foundations and galleries. .
Amy Meak (Dine) is an enrolled tribal member of the Navajo Nation from Gallup, New Mexico. She began working with AIANTA as an intern through the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI). She has been hired as the Data and Research Specialist for the ANZA Trail Project. In her role as the Data and Research Specialist, Amy works closely with the Membership and Outreach Coordinator to showcase the tribes along the ANZA Trail and their historic and present-day lands and enterprises through this unique project. She is currently completing her studies in Business Administration at SIPI and has been recognized as a member of the 2020 All State Academic Team. Amy also serves as the president of Phi Theta Kappa.
Building a Regional Tribal Tourism Alliance
Speakers: Sherry L. Rupert, AIANTA; Geri Hongeva, Arizona American Indian Tourism Association; Jason Morsette, North Dakota Tourism Alliance
Surviving the Active Shooter
Speaker: Regis Pino, Amerind Risk