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US Representatives Appointed as Ex-Officio Members to IAIA Board

Dec 20, 2023

IAIA Trustee Vice-Chair Beverly Morris (Aleut), IAIA President Dr. Robert Martin (Cherokee Nation), and Representative Teresa Leger Fernández in November 2023 during a visit to Washington, DC. <a href="" target="_blank">Read the story</a>.

IAIA Trustee Vice-Chair Beverly Morris (Aleut), IAIA President Dr. Robert Martin (Cherokee Nation), and Representative Teresa Leger Fernández in November 2023 during a visit to Washington, DC.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives Mike Johnson, in consultation with the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives Hakim Jeffries, appointed two Members of the House of Representatives to the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) Board of Trustees—Representative Tom Cole (Chickasaw Nation), representing Oklahoma’s 4th Congressional District, and Representative Teresa Leger Fernández, representing New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District. Cole and Fernández join IAIA President Dr. Robert Martin (Cherokee Nation) and IAIA Associated Student Government (ASG) President Laura Ten Fingers (Oglala Sioux Tribe) as ex-officio members.

“Art provides a vital pathway to learn, discover, and appreciate culture, identity, and heritage,” said Representative Leger Fernández in a press release posted on her website. “My first visit to the IAIA was decades ago when it was in a small space in Santa Fe, doing big things. Now it occupies a vibrant campus with dormitories, film studios, graduate students, and inspiring spaces that inspire the artists that inspire all of us.”

In a comment about the newly appointed ex-officio members, IAIA Board of Trustees Chair Loren Kieve (Cherokee Nation) said, “We are absolutely delighted to have these members join us. They are both longtime champions of Native American art and cultures. We thank the Speaker and Minority Leaders for these ex-officio appointments that reflect Congress’s continuing support for the important work we do.”

Representative Tom Cole (Chickasaw Nation)

Representative Tom Cole

United States Representative Tom Cole (Chickasaw Nation)

Identified by Time Magazine as “one of the sharpest minds in the House,” Tom Cole is currently serving in his tenth term in the U.S. House of Representatives. At the outset of his service in Congress, Cole was named one of the “Five Freshmen to Watch” by Roll Call. In 2016, he was recognized by Newsmax as the “hardest working member in Congress.” He was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 2017.

Cole is a fifth generation Oklahoman and an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation. He is one of only five Native Americans currently serving in Congress. Since 2009, he has served as the Republican Co-Chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus. The National Congress of American Indians has recognized Cole’s distinguished service with the Congressional Leadership award on three different occasions (2007, 2011 and 2017), more than any other Member of Congress in the history of the organization. He was inducted into the Chickasaw Hall of Fame in 2004.

Cole’s late mother, Helen, was also a member of the Chickasaw Hall of Fame and served as a state representative, state senator and the Mayor of Moore in her native state of Oklahoma. Cole’s late father, John, served 20 years in the United States Air Force and worked an additional two decades as a civilian federal employee at Tinker Air Force Base.

Read Congressman Tom Cole’s full biography on his web page.

Representative Teresa Leger Fernández

Representative Teresa Leger Fernández

United States Representative Teresa Leger Fernández

Congresswoman Teresa Leger Fernández represents New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District. Leger Fernández is a 17th generation Northern New Mexican. Born in Las Vegas, New Mexico, she was part of the state’s first Head Start class. She went on to graduate from Yale and Stanford Law School.

In Congress, Leger Fernández serves on the House Rules Committee as Ranking Member of its Subcommittee on Legislative and Budget Process. Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries placed his trust in the congresswoman to represent the minority in this powerful committee. She also serves on the House Committee on Natural Resources as the Ranking Member of its Subcommittee on Indian and Insular Affairs. As Ranking Member, her focus is to build on the momentum from last Congress. When Leger Fernández was chair of the subcommittee, they made historic investments and passed the STOP Act to crack down on the trafficking of tribal cultural items.

Read Congresswoman Teresa Leger Fernández’s full biography on her web page.

Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA)

The Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) is the only college in the world dedicated to the study of contemporary Native American and Alaska Native arts. IAIA offers undergraduate degrees in Cinematic Arts and Technology, Creative Writing, Indigenous Liberal Studies, Museum Studies, Performing Arts, and Studio Arts; graduate degrees in Creative Writing, Studio Arts, and Cultural Administration; and certificates in Broadcast Journalism, Business and Entrepreneurship, Museum Studies, and Native American Art History. The college serves approximately 500 full-time equivalent (FTE) Native and non-Native American students from around the globe, representing nearly a hundred federally recognized tribes. Named one of the top art institutions by UNESCO and the International Association of Art, IAIA is among the leading art institutes in our nation and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

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Broadcast Journalism
Business and Entrepreneurship
Cultural Administration
Cinematic Arts & Technology
Creative Writing
Indigenous Liberal Studies
Museum Studies
Native American Art History
Native American Studies
Performing Arts
Studio Arts
Key: Associate of Arts (AA), Associate of Fine Arts (AFA), Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA), Master of Fine Arts (MFA), Certificate (CT), and Online (ON)


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