CICD Staff

Assistant Vice President and Director

Patrice Kunesh

Patrice H. Kunesh has extensive experience representing American Indian tribes throughout the country. Patrice, who is of Standing Rock Lakota descent, began her legal career at the Native American Rights Fund. She also was in-house counsel to the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and served on the faculty at the University of South Dakota School of Law. Patrice recently served appointments as the Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and as the Deputy Solicitor for Indian Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Patrice received a Master of Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and a Juris Doctor from the University of Colorado School of Law.

Phone: 612-204-5815




Richard Todd

Richard M. Todd, Senior Advisor to the Center for Indian Country Development, joined the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis as a research economist in 1980. He has served as an officer in the Bank’s discount window, payments system risk, banking supervision, and information technology functions and is currently a Vice President with responsibilities in Community Development and with the Center for Indian Country Development. He has published articles on homeownership and foreclosures, poverty, financial education, monetary policy, business cycles, financial regulation, payments systems, forecasting, and seasonality and currently studies economic development on American Indian reservations. Dick is on the board of the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development and the University of Minnesota Crookston’s Economic Development Center. He holds a Ph. D. in Agricultural and Applied Economics from the University of Minnesota.

Phone: 612-204-5864




Donna Feir

Donna Feir, Research Economist, joined the CICD in 2018 after spending four years as an Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Victoria. Donna is an applied labor economist and economic historian who has published on reconciliation, modern Indigenous labor market experiences, health, and the impact of historic policies on Indigenous economies and people. Donna is a Research Fellow at the IZA Institute of Labor Economics and member of the Association for Economics Research of Indigenous People.

Donna (a Canadian) received her Ph. D. from the Vancouver School of Economics at the University of British Columbia.

More information about Donna is available on her personal webpage.

Phone: 612-204-6633




Nicole Pieratos

Nikki Pieratos, Project Director, brings extensive reservation business and financial services expertise to the CICD. Before joining the CICD in 2017, Nikki, a member of the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa, was the founder and CEO/President of the Northern Eagle Federal Credit Union which serves the Bois Forte community. Nikki received her Master of Public Policy from the University of Chicago.

Phone: 612-204-5728




Jessie Welton headshot

Jessie Welton, Project Manager, is responsible for the CICD’s operations, communications, and outreach. Prior to joining the CICD in 2017, she was a member of the Program Assurance Function at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Jessie holds a Master of Public Policy and Leadership from the University of St. Thomas, and a B.S. in Economics from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse.

Phone: 612-204-6414