AIANTA Team

AIANTA 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, 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.


American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association

PO Box 70413
Albuquerque, NM 87197-0413
(505) 724-3592
info@aianta.org

 

Sherry L. Rupert
Chief Executive Officer

AIANTA CEO Sherry L. Rupert (Paiute/Washoe) has nearly two decades of executive-level experience managing and promoting Native American tourism. Since joining AIANTA as CEO in 2019, she has spearheaded several initiatives, including the organization’s groundbreaking new Tribal Agritourism program and overseeing AIANTA’s first-ever virtual American Indian Tourism Conference, which drew a record number of registrants in 2020.

As CEO of the only national association dedicated to indigenous tourism, she is the leading voice when it comes to advocating for travel and tourism as a significant economic driver in tribal nations. Among her responsibilities, she curates a robust educational program for tribes and indigenous-owned hospitality enterprises around the country. Prior to assuming the role of CEO, she was President of AIANTA’s Board of Directors since 2010. During that time, she was instrumental in working with Congress to pass the Native American Tourism and Improving Visitor Experience (NATIVE) Act.

Rupert was formerly the Executive Director of the State of Nevada Indian Commission, where she reported directly to the Governor of Nevada to serve as a liaison to the state’s 27 tribes, bands and colonies. During her tenure, she developed the Nevada Indian Territory initiative and won awards and accolades for her work in preserving the site of the Stewart Indian School as a museum and cultural center.

505-724-3592; info@aianta.org

 

Hannah Peterson
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 Program 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.

505-361-2168; hpeterson@aianta.org

 

Ariel Richardson

Ariel Richardson
Office Manager

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.

505-724-3592; arichardson@aianta.org

Bianca Mitchell
Education Manager

Bianca Mitchell (Pueblo of Acoma) joins AIANTA as the organization’s Education Manager. With an extensive background in events management, donor development, communications and marketing, Bianca brings years of experience to AIANTA. In her role as the Education Manager, she will identify, develop, implement, market and promote technical assistance and training programs, webinars and certificate programming. Bianca’s goal is to assist in growing and enhancing the program model for and with AIANTA.

505-433-2120; bmitchell@aianta.org

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.

505-209-2479; sbowman@aianta.org

 

Monica Poling
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 turned in her daily byline in order to manage AIANTA’s marketing, public relations and content development efforts. In her role as Marketing & Public Relations Manager for AIANTA, she works to bring awareness of Indian Country tourism. 

Prior to her career in journalism, Monica spent five years promoting international tourism to Korea as the Marketing Manager for the Korea Tourism Organization and also managed member outreach for the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board.

505-724-3578; mpoling@aianta.org

Gail Chehak
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.

505-243-3633; gchehak@aianta.org

Bruce Rettig
Travel Writer/Photographer

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.

530-577-2005; brettig@aianta.org

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. .

505-724-3592; llewis@aianta.org

Amy Meak
Research Clerk

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.

505-243-6399; ameak@aianta.org

 

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Education & Training

Technical assistance and training is the heartbeat of our work at AIANTA. We provide general and tailored technical assistance, training and education in a variety of ways.

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International Outreach

AIANTA plays a critical role in supporting the National Travel and Tourism Strategy to bring more visitors to the United States, especially in our participation at trade shows internationally and domestically, to promote tourism in Indian Country.

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Membership

Through AIANTA membership, tribes, the tourism industry and other partners form a dynamic network of shared experiences, resources and support.

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