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BOT approves recruitment of Deputy Executive Director

By the CUJ

MISSION – The Board of Trustees (BOT) for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) on Wednesday, May 13, told Executive Director Ted Wright to begin recruitment for an individual to work under his supervision as a Deputy Executive Director (DED).

The exact duties of the DED were not fully flushed out during the BOT work session, but it’s safe to say the new position will help Wright manage some of the more than 400 tribal government employees who currently work in 17 different departments.

The job will first be advertised to members of the CTUIR. If a CTUIR member does not apply, it will be opened to other Native Americans and then to non-Indians. Veterans will receive preferential status as well.

The BOT, which supervises the Executive Director, discussed at length whether or not it should also supervise the DED.

By the end of the two-hour meeting, the Board decided by consensus that Wright should manage his assistant.

The last Deputy Executive Director, Deb Croswell, actually split duties with the former Executive Director, Dave Tovey, and both were answerable to the Board of Trustees. But that was a different situation. The DED – Croswell – was hired in 2011 to manage certain departments so Tovey could avoid violating the Tribes’ rules against nepotism in supervising his brother, Bill, director of the Department of Economic and Community Development.

After Dave Tovey resigned as Executive Director in February of 2017, Croswell was named Interim ED and stayed on in that position for seven months even after a previous Board eliminated her position of Deputy ED, a job she had held – in two different stints – for more than a dozen years.

Croswell left in December and took a position with Cayuse Technologies and was recently promoted to an executive position.

Wright told the Board that the duties between the ED and DED will be parsed out after an organizational assessment is completed with the consulting firm of Moss-Adams, which was hired last year to perform an in-depth analysis of the Tribes’ government operations, including its structure.

“Until that work is done we won’t know how to split the work up, but that person could work side by side with me and the Executive Management Team to figure it out,” Wright said. “There may be restructuring here and there and right now we can’t just say who will be under me and who will be under the Deputy ED. But it will be a huge advantage to have that person on board while we work that out.”

BOT Vice Chair Jeremy Wolf said it will be advantageous to have two top managers so that when one is working directly with the Board the other can deal with government operations. As it is now, Wright is often answering e-mails and signing documents during BOT work sessions, unable to pay full attention at meetings, Wolf said, calling that a “shortcoming of government operations.”

At one point in the meeting, BOT members appeared to be split. Half wanted to discuss the pros-and-cons of leaving both the ED and DED under supervision of the Board, and half wanted to leave the deputy under the supervision of the Executive Director.

That’s when Armand Minthorn made his first statement of the day.

“What Ted presented in part is to help the Executive Director’s office. What the last Boards done, that’s all done,” Minthorn said. “What we’re dealing with now is how to continue to move forward. Yes, we can learn from the past what has happened before, mistakes, etc., etc., that can help guide us, guide anybody really. What’s important is that this is to me cut-and-dry. Move forward with this position so we can go forward to continue to focus on our priorities and issues and accomplishments with the Deputy under the Executive Director.”

At that point the numbers shifted with General Council Chair Lindsey Watchman adding his nod to moving forward with the ED supervising the Deputy ED.

However, Chair Kat Brigham made it clear to Wright that all BOT concerns should be addressed.

“We want to know what each of you will be responsible for so we can respond to questions,” Brigham said. “We want to have a clear understanding of who the Deputy is assigned to.”
Vice Chair Wolf was mindful that although the Deputy will be in a subordinate position, he or she will take on the top management role when the Executive Director is absent.
“That’s when the rubber hits the road,” Wolf said. “If Ted goes to an outside entity that’s when that person steps in.”

That kind of information, Wolf said, needs to be spelled out in the Tribes’ Executive Management Policy. In certain instances, Wolf said, the Deputy Executive Director may need to be supervised by the Board of Trustees.

The hiring process is expected to take at least six to eight weeks and likely much longer.