Nathan Levi Esquerra Named UArizona's First SVP for Native American Advancement

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Nathan Levi Esquerra, an expert in economic development and Native American tribal relations and a former tribal chairman, has been appointed as the first senior vice president for Native American advancement and tribal engagement at the University of Arizona.

Levi Esquerra

Levi Esquerra

Esquerra will begin on Sept. 8.

In the new position, Equerra will oversee universitywide efforts to improve the success of Native American students, identify and promote tribal interests, and build programs and research capacity in ways that honor and respect tribal sovereignty and the needs of Native nations and tribal communities in Arizona and beyond.

"The University of Arizona, as a land-grant institution, is committed to helping Native nations and tribal members in Arizona thrive," said University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins. "Levi has spent his career advancing social and economic development for tribes in Arizona, making him the perfect person to lead similar initiatives here. Under his leadership, the entire university community will maximize opportunities and success for Native American students and foster strong partnerships with Native nations across the state."

Esquerra will work closely with Liesl Folks, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, and Karen Francis-Begay, assistant vice provost for Native American Initiatives. He will report to Robbins and will be a member of the university's senior leadership team.

"I am extremely excited and humble about this unique opportunity to work for the University of Arizona," Esquerra said. "This university has tremendous resources and I look forward to advancing tribal sovereignty by collaborating and partnering with tribal nations. As a first-generation college student myself, I know the impact that the university can have on someone's life and I want to be part of it. My goals will be to listen and do my best to ensure everyone has an opportunity for their voices to be heard and the ability to reach their true potential."

Esquerra most recently served, for nearly two decades, as the director of the Center for American Indian Economic Development at Northern Arizona University's W.A. Franke College of Business. There, he led the center's mission to provide business consulting, training and educational workshops to support entrepreneurship and economic self-sufficiency among tribal members.

Before that, Esquerra was a business development representative for the Arizona Commission of Indian Affairs – now known as the Governor's Office on Tribal Relations – where he served as the primary contact between the state and 22 tribal government bodies to advance social and economic development.

Esquerra is a member of the Chemehuevi Indian Tribe, based in Havasu Lake, California. He served as the tribal council chairman from 1995-97. He helped initiate a 66% increase in funding from the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs within his first six months as chairman.

Esquerra earned a bachelor's degree from Brigham Young University, where he studied communications and sociology, and a master's degree in social and economic development from Washington University in St. Louis.

He sits on the board of directors for the Arizona Rural Development Council and the Local First Arizona Foundation.

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