Contact: April Hale at

National Indian Health Board Elects
Executive Committee
Committee members represent the Alaska, Portland, California
and Oklahoma City Areas. 
WASHINGTON, DC—March 2, 2021—The National Indian Health Board (NIHB) is pleased to announce its Executive Committee members elected on February 26, 2021. These distinguished national Tribal health leaders will provide leadership and governance in advancing the organization’s mission and vision for the best quality health outcomes for American Indian and Alaska Native people. NIHB’s Board of Directors is comprised of 12 members each elected to serve on the NIHB Board from among the Tribes located within the 12 Indian Health Service geographic service areas.
“Congratulations to the new Executive Committee! This is an exciting and effective leadership group and are certainly well-prepared to provide Board leadership. Our Board sets the course for the National Indian Health Board’s priorities and strategies – entirely committed to elevate the visibility of Indian health care issues and challenges and work at the highest levels of the United States to make change. It is their experiences, knowledge, traditional ways of knowing and wisdom that provides the foundation of NIHB’s work,” NIHB CEO Stacy A. Bohlen said. 
William “Bill” Smith from the Valdez Native Tribe of Alaska, who served as NIHB Vice Chairman before stepping in as Acting Chairman in June 2020, was officially elected as NIHB Chairman and is the representative of the Alaska Area. Chairman Smith, a U.S. Army veteran who served in the Vietnam War, is an elected Board Member of the Valdez Native and is a member of the Alaska Native Health Board. Chairman Smith is a staunch advocate for Native veterans’ issues and will serve for two years.
“After stepping in as the Acting Chair the last few months, it’s a great honor and responsibility that my fellow Board Members have elected me as Chair and recognized my leadership for our people’s health. I’m ready to serve 24/7. As NIHB Chairman, I will continue working hard to educate the folks in D.C. and the Veterans Administration about their federal responsibility to the Indigenous people of America who have paid the ultimate price. We must work together to keep our people and veterans strong in body and soul and that includes health, culture and language too.”
Nickolaus Dee Lewis, citizen and Councilman of the Lummi Nation, was elected as NIHB Vice Chairman and is the representative of the Portland Area which includes Oregon, Washington and Idaho. Councilman Lewis, a Navy veteran, is the current Chairperson of the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board. He is active with local health and judicial policy for the Lummi Nation in Whatcom County and serves as the Vice Chairman of the Washington State Indian Policy Advisory Committee. Councilman Lewis will serve out the reminder of Chairman Smith’s term, which is one year.
“Being able to serve our people in this role, on a national scale, is one of the most humbling gifts I have ever received. In my role, I will take the time to listen, deeply understand, maintain compassion and create a voice for the voiceless. I hope to carry our people’s voices and stories to the table each day by holding the federal government accountable and protecting sovereignty. Serving our Native people and sharing our Indigenous teachings is a value that I personally believe serves all of our people from our elders to youth. I was taught by our leaders that the health of our people is the wealth of our people. I commit my absolute passion, integrity and attention to all our Native peoples.”
Lisa Elgin, Tribal Administrator and citizen of the Manchester-Point Arena Band of Pomo Indians of California, was re-elected as NIHB Secretary. Ms. Elgin represents the California Area and is the current Chairperson of the California Rural Indian Health Board. Ms. Elgin is a long-standing Board Member of Sonoma County Indian Health Project and has worked in the legal and federal Indian Law field for over 25 years. Ms. Elgin will serve as Secretary for two years.
“I consider it an honor and a privilege to be re-elected as Secretary to the NIHB Board. I take my role as California representative seriously and I am proud to sit and serve with such a distinguished group of Tribal leaders. My goal in this position is to always remember where we came from as indigenous peoples to this land and to keep and sustain the best practices and outcomes we can. There is so much to do as far as healthcare, and I am hopeful that this year will be a new beginning to start and finish important projects to accomplish the mission of NIHB.”
Marty Wafford, Under Secretary of Support and Programs for the Chickasaw Nation Department of Health, was re-elected as NIHB Member-at-Large and is the representative of the Oklahoma City Area which includes Oklahoma, Kansas and portion of Texas. Ms. Wafford is also the current Chairperson of the Southern Plains Tribal Health Board. She has over 25 years of experience working in healthcare administration and support and is a Fellow of the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) and a Certified Healthcare Financial Professional by the HFMA Board of Examiners. Ms. Wafford will serve as Member-at-Large for one year.
“Working closely with the NIHB enables me to help our people on critical issues that all American Indians and Alaska Natives face regardless of where we are geographically located. We fight hard to get policy approved and legislation passed that will bring resources to our healthcare systems and help us to enhance the care we give every day. While on the NIHB Board, I hope to help get much needed resources to our Tribal communities over the next year to make up for the losses we have all experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The NIHB Treasurer position was not up for election. Samuel Moose, Director of Human Services at Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, serves as the NIHB Treasurer and Bemidji Area representative, which includes Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Indiana. Mr. Moose is a citizen of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.

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Established by the Tribes to advocate as the united voice of federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes, NIHB seeks to reinforce Tribal sovereignty, strengthen Tribal health systems, secure resources, and build capacity to achieve the highest level of health and well-being for our People.
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