Longtime Tribal employee and current Director of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Self-Governance Department, Kasie Nichols was honored in October at the Journal Record’s Woman of the Year reception. She was one of 50 selected for the event that honors Oklahoma women who make a difference in their jobs and communities.

Kasie Nichols, Director of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Self-Governance Department

“The Office of Self-Governance is a vital position for an Indian tribe,” said CPN Vice-Chairman Linda Capps. “Kasie strives to be an effective resource for CPN as a tribal nation to help pursue self-governance in order to increase our government’s control and decision-making authority over Tribal programs. She has wide-spread expertise, especially in assisting Indian Health Service Programs … that is when Kasie shines even brighter and is indispensable in her role as director of Self-Governance.”

Growing up in Ardmore, Oklahoma, Nichols watched her single mother work three jobs and still struggle to pay rent and bills. The family often relied on government assistance and housing, and as the eldest child, Nichols often had to fill the role of caregiver for her younger siblings, including carrying the worries and stress that those roles brought.

“My circumstances did not define me, though, and I intended to use my intelligence and determination to prove it,” Nichols said. “My first goal was to graduate from high school. While that may be a given for most, I was the only one in my family who achieved this milestone. I did not stop there.”

She earned a bachelor’s of biological health sciences from Southeastern Oklahoma State University and a master’s of microbiology and immunology from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

Nichols started with the Nation in 2010 as a grants analyst in the Self-Governance Department, ascending to several positions there before being named director in 2017. The department supports funding opportunities for Tribal government-run programs in health care, criminal justice, social services and a host of other sectors.

“In working with her, I have found Kasie’s understanding of the nuances of often cumbersome federal funding processes second to none,” said Mickey Peercy, Executive Director of Self-Governance for the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. “Her employer’s continued success is a testament to her efforts over the past 10 years of service to CPN and tribal self-governance as a whole.”

A credit to her success is due in large part to her diverse professional background. Her medical research training and work prior to coming to CPN are reflected in her office’s work with federal grant minutiae, while her broad experience assists in the work of a tribal employer involved in a wide array of sectors.

In accordance with her day-to-day work, she is involved in several federal-tribal partnerships with the Indian Health Service and Bureau of Indian Affairs. She has served as a member of the federal Tribal Self-Governance Advisory Committee and Contract Support Cost workgroup. Previously, she’s been a grant panelist for the Administration for Native Americans Social and Economic Development Strategies, a team member for PeopleSoft Grants Implementation Pre-Award Transition and a chairman of the OU Cancer Institute/Sarah Cannon Research Institute Phase’s clinical research collaboration committee.