Winnebago Attorney Ann Marie Downes Becomes Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy & Economic Development at BIA

Anne Marie Downes

Anne Marie Downes

WASHINGTON —The White House appointed Ann Marie Downes, former executive director of the Indian Legal Program at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, to serve in the U.S. Department of the Interior’s assistant secretary’s office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). Downes is a tribal citizen of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska.

Downes is now deputy assistant secretary for policy and economic development.

“I’m a big believer in public service,” Downes said about the opportunity to join BIA, where she will work under Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn. “It was hard to leave my team at ASU, but it was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down. When you get the chance to serve, you take it.”

In her new role, Downes will oversee the Office of Self-Governance and the Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development. She also will be a part of a new initiative, the White House Council on Native American Affairs. The council establishes a national policy to ensure that the federal government engages in a government-to-government relationship with federally recognized tribes in a more coordinated and effective manner.

“It’s an active and thriving office,” Downes said. “I see so much progress and positive steps being taken for Indian Country under this administration, and I look forward to continuing that work.”

Downes served as policy adviser for Tribal Affairs under former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano before joining the Indian Legal Program at ASU.

Downes is a licensed attorney in California and earned her J.D. from the ASU College of Law in 1994.


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