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50 for 50: Karen Atkinson

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Karen Atkinson

Karen Atkinson

Atkinson (Mandan, Hidatsa, and Tsimshian) is a member of the Leadership Council of the Federal Reserve’s Center for Indian Country Development and an energy policy and economic development consultant. 

Before retirement, Atkinson served Indian Country in many government leadership positions, including Deputy Director of the National Park Service, Senior Counselor at the Department of the Interior, Senior Counsel to the U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee, Deputy Director of the Department of Energy, and attorney for the Salish and Kootenai Tribes. Her many successes include establishing the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe lands within Death Valley National Park, being instrumental in drafting Title V of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which established DOE’s Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs, establishing the Office of Minority Business and Economic Development, and protecting the Sweetgrass Hills from gold mining.

In the private sector, Atkinson has served as Executive Director of the Native American Contractors Association and president and founder of consulting firm Tribal Strategies, Inc. She is also co-author of “Tribal Business Structure Handbook.” In addition to her Stanford degree, Atkinson has earned a J.D. from the University of New Mexico School of Law.

Karen's Interview