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Kotek names Shana McConville Radford as first director of tribal affairs

Shana McConville Radford of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation will join Gov. Tina Kotek’s administration as Oregon’s first tribal affairs director. 

McConville Radford, 39, had since May 2022 served as deputy director of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.

“The tribal affairs director role is an unprecedented role in the Governor’s office,” said Kotek spokesperson Anca Matica in an email. “The governor’s top priority for the tribal affairs director is to foster positive relationships with Oregon’s tribal nations through meaningful and transparent consultation.” 

McConville Radford will earn $10,023 per month as a director, which differs from an adviser in “classification and internal structure,” according to Matica. 

In a news release last Thursday announcing the appointment, Kotek said she chose McConville Radford for her “extensive experience in tribal matters, policies and government-to-government relations.”

McConville Radford said in the same release she’d work to foster collaboration and cooperation between the sovereign governments of the nine Oregon-based tribes and the federal and state government. 

“I will promote and practice transparent and integrous policy design and implementation by centering true collaboration through curiosity, empathy, candor, and reciprocity,” she said.

Kathryn Brigham, chair of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation board, said the board was pleased Kotek had chosen a member of the tribe for the position.

“We look forward to working with the governor’s office to see not only the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation move forward and progress in the coming years, but all nine sovereign tribes in Oregon,” Brigham said. “We believe that Shana can help with that endeavor.” 

Before becoming deputy director of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, McConville Radford worked with a number of state leaders, federal agencies and tribal governments. In 2010, she was a Mark O. Hatfield Congressional Fellow, serving as tribal legislative liaison and advisor to Oregon’s U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat. She was a former superintendent of the Flathead Agency of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Montana, working closely with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. She also spent several years as health and human services tribal liaison for the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.

McConville Radford lived in Warm Springs until fifth grade before her family returned to the Umatilla Indian Reservation, according to an article in Spilyay Tymoo (Coyote News).

In 2020, she worked with the U.S. Census Bureau as a tribal and congressional lead to improve census counts from tribal nations in Oregon and Idaho. 

She holds a master’s degree in international law and international relations from the University of New South Wales in Kensington, Australia, and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Portland State University.

“Governor Kotek’s trust in me underscores her respect and commitment in strengthening, addressing, and understanding the distinctive needs and the unique political relationship with Oregon’s Tribal nations,” McConville Radford said in the news release.

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