Patrice Kunesh

Patrice is the Co-Director at the Center for Indian Country Development at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Kunesh recently served as deputy under secretary of rural development at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where she oversaw Operations & Management and the Office of Civil Rights and worked with the USDA’s state directors. Kunesh is of Standing Rock Lakota descent and has also served as the deputy solicitor for Indian affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior, where she supervised work related to American Indian tribes, lands and gaming. Before that she was a member of the faculty at the University of South Dakota School of Law, where she taught as well as directed the university’s Institute of American Indian Studies. She began her legal career at the Native American Rights Fund, where she litigated cases involving tribal sovereignty and natural resources. She provided legal and policy advice to tribes on a range of issues. In 1995, she became in-house counsel to the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe of Connecticut, where she continued her legal and policy work. Kunesh received a Master of Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and a law degree from the University of Colorado School of Law, where she was an editor of the Colorado Law Review.