Chris James has served as the President and CEO of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development since January of 2017. He is responsible for guiding the organization in its day-to-day operations and implementing its longterm strategic initiatives and vision. Prior to joining the National Center, Chris was an Associate Administrator at the U.S Small Business Administration (SBA), worked in Native American Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and managed the Sequoyah Fund – an enterprise of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
From 2011 – 2016, Chris served as Associate Administrator at SBA, where he was a Senior Executive Service (SES) appointee of President Barack Obama overseeing both the Office of Field Operations, Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, and the Office of Native American Affairs. His extensive portfolio included Native American outreach, program management, and tribal consultation.
While at SBA, Chris’s responsibilities included representing the SBA at White House events and in state, local, and congressional affairs, as well as serving as a liaison to domestic and international corporate partners and stakeholders. He also established and oversaw SBA’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. As the head of the Office of Field Operations, he managed a workforce of over 800 people with an annual operating budget of over $200 million, and worked on programs and services that affected all 50 states and every U.S. territory. He was also the officer on record for Tribal Consultation, and worked with the White House and senior cabinet officials to craft best practices for accomplishing economic development in Native American communities.