MASHANTUCKET, CT – For over a decade, the Native American Finance Officers Association (NAFOA) Board of Directors has recognized innovative and influential Native American leaders who have devoted their careers to supporting the growth of tribal economic development within their communities and all of Indian Country. This year, the NAFOA Lifetime Achievement Awards were awarded to Chief Lynn Malerba and Ted Strong.
Mohegan Chief Marilynn “Lynn” Malerba, Treasurer of the United States
NAFOA presented Chief Mutáwi Mutáhash (Many Hearts) Marilynn “Lynn” Malerba with the 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award. She became the 18th Chief of the Mohegan Tribe and is the first female Chief in the tribe’s modern history. The position is a lifetime appointment made by the tribe’s Council of Elders. Prior to becoming Chief, she served as Chairwoman of the Tribal Council and served in tribal government as Executive Director of Health and Human Services.
Earlier this year, Chief Malerba was appointed by President Biden as the Treasurer of the United States, making her the first American Indian to serve in this position. The Treasurer serves as a liaison with the Federal Reserve and oversees the U.S. Mint and Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Her list of prominent national positions also includes serving as Chairwoman of the Tribal Self-Governance Advisory Committee of the Federal Indian Health Service (IHS); and being a member of the Justice Department’s Tribal Nations Leadership Council, the Tribal Advisory Committee for the National Institute of Health, the Treasury Tribal Advisory Committee, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Center for Indian Country Development Leadership Council.
She lives in Niantic, CT, with her husband Paul. They have two adult daughters, Elizabeth and Angela, and three grandchildren, Taylor and Charlotte, and Connor.
Ted Strong, Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility for Yakima Chief Hops, and Founding Member of the Native American Finance Officers Association
NAFOA also presented Ted Strong of the Confederated Tribes & Bands of the Yakama Nation with the 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award. Strong currently serves as the Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility for Yakima Chief Hops, one of the largest hop-growing, processing, and marketing companies in the world with offices in Yakima and Sunnyside, WA; The People’s Republic of China; and in Brussels, Belgium. Prior to this role, he was the Executive Director of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission.
In the early 1980’s, while Strong served as the CFO of Yakama Nation, he along with Ted Bryant (Choctaw Nation) and Elaine Topsky-Olney (Chippewa Cree) founded the Native American Finance Officers Association. They met at a municipal finance officers association meeting in New Orleans and realized that there were no breakouts for Native Americans. It was at this meeting that Ted Bryant started writing notes on a napkin, and one year later, they held the first NAFOA Conference with 17 tribes in attendance.
Strong currently resides in Washington State with his wife of 56 years, Alta. They have three children, seven grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.