The National Congress of American Indians Announces Dante Desiderio as its New Chief Executive Officer

Published on Apr 15, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) is pleased to announce that Dante Desiderio has been selected as the organization’s new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and will be joining NCAI on May 11, 2021. In his new position, Desiderio will oversee the day-to-day management and operations of the organization for an improved path to success for NCAI and the NCAI Fund. He will report directly to the NCAI Executive Committee.

“We are thrilled to welcome Dante Desiderio back to NCAI as our new CEO at this critical time. He was NCAI’s Director of Economic Policy during the Great Recession, the last time our country faced such uncertain and challenging economic times. As we emerge from a global pandemic and the social and economic instability that come with such monumental challenges, there is no better leader to guide us through the recovery and rebuilding effort, or to help us navigate the future as it pertains to policy and opportunities with the American Rescue Plan,” said NCAI President Fawn Sharp. “It’s been a stressful year for all of Indian Country, and with Dante’s leadership, I’m confident we will build our tribal nations back stronger, more resilient, and healthier than ever.”

Desiderio, a citizen of the Sappony Tribe, comes to NCAI from the Native American Finance Officers Association (NAFOA), where he spent 10 years as the organization’s executive director. During his tenure, he increased the organization’s commitment to its members and grew its national profile as a steward for tribal economic development. He instituted the NAFOA Member Tribes model and successfully transitioned NAFOA to a tribally-led organization.
“I am honored to be selected by the National Congress of American Indians to serve as their Chief Executive Officer,” Desiderio said. “I’ve always loved NCAI’s work on behalf of their tribal members and on behalf of Indian Country as a whole. I look forward to serving once again at an organization I respect, and with a team that puts their whole heart into their work, and am ready to meet the challenges ahead. I thank the NCAI Board for the trust they put in me and for the opportunity to return to the Embassy and lead the NCAI team as we work together for the betterment of all of Indian Country.”

Desiderio’s time in Native American economic policy includes work on multiple economic stimulus and rescue packages such as the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) under President George W. Bush, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) under President Barack Obama, and Desiderio was an essential advocate and organizer of tribal leadership voices to ensure Indian Country’s inclusion in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) funding under President Donald Trump and now the American Rescue Plan (ARP) under President Joe Biden.
“Dante’s background in leadership, finance and economic policy is second to none in Indian Country. He is the right person at the right time to lead NCAI,” Sharp said. “Dante is proof that the National Congress of American Indians -- the oldest and largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization serving the broad interests of tribal governments and communities -- is a place where young Native Americans can come work, learn, grow, be mentored by the best and return to a leadership position. Dante is a success story I know staff can look to and aspire to be like.”
Desiderio is also a leading policy expert in tax and finance, tribal enterprise development, gaming, entrepreneurship among tribal members, financial literacy and government contracting. During his career he has been responsible for advising organizations, tribal leaders, federal officials and congressional offices on tribal economic policy issues including tax and finance, tribal enterprise development, gaming, entrepreneurship among tribal members, financial literacy and government contracting, making him a leading national expert and advocate for Indian Country’s economic development and tax-related issues.
"The NAFOA Board and staff appreciates the hard work and dedication that Dante has provided to NAFOA over the last decade. The organization has grown tremendously in scope and influence under his leadership,” said Cristina Danforth, President of the Board of NAFOA. “Good luck Dante in your new position as the NCAI Chief Executive Officer. We look forward to continuing working closely with you on the important economic and tax policy work ahead of us in Indian Country.”

“Dante has a proven ability to implement and execute a tribal nation driven agenda, within Indian Country and externally across a broad sector of partners,” said Sharp. We recognize that valuable skill set is an indispensable factor to our success during these perilous and challenging times.”

A press briefing and virtual meet-and-greet will be held for Desiderio in May.
About the National Congress of American Indians:
Founded in 1944, the National Congress of American Indians is the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization in the country. NCAI advocates on behalf of tribal governments and communities, promoting strong tribal-federal government-to-government policies, and promoting a better understanding among the general public regarding American Indian and Alaska Native governments, people and rights. For more information, visit

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