Donald Sampson

CTUIR executive director resigns


MISSION – Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) leaders will begin searching for a new executive director in the coming weeks after accepting the resignation of Don Sampson on April 29.
Board of Trustees (BOT) members voted unanimously to accept the resignation, which takes effect May 10.
In his resignation letter, Sampson stated he resigned due to personal reasons.
“A big factor in my decision is my goal to spend more time with my mom and family, improve my health, reduce the day-to-day stress of my work and enjoy life each day,” he wrote.
The tribe issued an announcement on April 29 after the BOT accepted the resignation, stating Deputy Executive Director J.D. Tovey was named interim executive director until a permanent replacement is chosen.
In the announcement, Tovey said he was eager to work with tribal staff to complete current projects and priorities until leaders fill the position permanently.
“I look forward to working with the Board of Trustees and Mr. Sampson to provide a smooth transition,” he said.
Tovey started as deputy executive director in October after nearly nine years as the CTUIR’s Planning director.
Officials didn’t say when they hope to hire a new executive director but that they would form a committee in the coming weeks to advertise the vacancy and select applicants for the BOT to consider.
As the tribe’s top staff-level position, the executive director oversees the daily operation and management of CTUIR government and administrative functions and ensures tribal member access to services and programs.
The executive director is also responsible for implementing BOT directives but doesn’t oversee tribal entities such as Yellowhawk Tribal Health Center and Wildhorse Resort & Casino.
Sampson’s last day will mark the end of his second turn as the CTUIR’s executive director.
A tribal member and hereditary chief, Sampson previously served as executive director between 2003 and 2010. The BOT hired him for his current stint in late 2021.
In addition, Sampson served as BOT chair for two terms from 1993 to 1997 and had served as the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission’s executive director.
When tribal leaders hired him again in 2021, they said his experience, knowledge and familiarity with tribal government and the CTUIR community were factors that contributed to his selection.
At the time, Sampson said providing excellent services to tribal citizens, protecting treaty rights, restoring natural resources, revitalizing language and cultural traditions, and making the CTUIR community more resilient to a changing climate were among his priorities.
In his resignation letter, Sampson thanked BOT members and CTUIR employees for their hard work during his tenure – adding that that he would support the tribe, BOT and community in any way possible in the future.
“I am proud of the work each of the Department Directors, Program Managers and all CTUIR staff do day in and day out on behalf of our community,” Sampson wrote.
Chairman Gary I. Burke said Sampson had kept CTUIR departments “performing at a high level” and played an important role in tribal successes, like the adoption of the Climate Adaptation Plan and ongoing housing projects.
“We thank Don for all his time and service he dedicated to the CTUIR and its people, Burke said. “We wish Don nothing but the best in his future endeavors.”