PORTLAND, OREGON—The National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) Board of Directors welcomed Sarah Kastelic as new executive director of the organization this week. Dr. Kastelic has served NICWA as both chief of staff and deputy director for the past four years. She assumes the role as part of a carefully designed succession and leadership transition plan. Dr. Kastelic replaces founding director Terry Cross, who now becomes a NICWA senior consultant and will continue to serve the organization.
“It is an honor and privilege to steward such an important institution for Indian Country,” said Dr. Kastelic. “I went to my first NICWA annual conference in 1998, and since then it was my dream to work for NICWA. This kind of planful leadership transition is a real luxury, and I feel fortunate to have worked closely with Terry and our board of directors to shepherd NICWA into the next phase of leadership. I’m excited to get to work!”
Dr. Kastelic was selected to succeed Cross in 2011 and has spent the past four years assuming increasing responsibility of operations and management of the 28-year-old national child advocacy organization. Prior to joining NICWA, Dr. Kastelic led the National Congress of American Indians’ (NCAI) welfare reform program and was the founding director of NCAI’s Policy Research Center.
In November, national leadership network Independent Sector awarded Dr. Kastelic its American Express NGen Leadership Award, calling her “a transformational leader working to further policy research that empowers American Indian and Alaska Native communities.”
“NICWA is in the best of hands,” said Cross. “Dr. Kastelic is one of the most capable young Native leaders I have ever had the pleasure to work with. It has been an honor to serve, and now is a great privilege to pass the leadership baton on to the next generation.”
Dr. Kastelic is Alutiiq, an enrolled member of the Native Village of Ouzinkie. After receiving a bachelor’s degree from Goucher College, she earned a master’s degree and PhD from the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis.