Santa Fe, NM – After a sustained nationwide search, the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA) board of directors chose Kimberly A. Peone (Colville/Eastern Cherokee) to serve as its new executive director. An enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, and an Eastern Band Cherokee descendant, Kim Peone is an who lives in Santa Fe.
Peone’s father Richard (Eastern Band Cherokee), and mother Annabelle (Colville Confederated Tribes), met while attending the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe, and started a family. Peone was born in Santa Fe.
An alumna of Eastern Washington University, Peone’s career has taken her across Indian Country from coast to coast, serving tribes and tribal entities in numerous professional capacities. Most recently, Peone was the chief executive officer and chief financial officers of the Colville Tribal Federal Corporation in Nespelem, Washington, from 2017 to 2019. She also served as deputy financial officer for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in Cherokee, North Carolina, from 2009 to 2015. Her full circle journey has led her back to Santa Fe to pursue professional opportunities. Her expertise is building accountable, sustainable, and disciplined Native organizations that exceed expectations of key stakeholders.
Peone will be the fifth Native American to lead SWAIA, the nonprofit organization that hosts the Santa Fe Indian Market, the largest annual Native arts event in the United States. She is the third woman to lead the organization and the second Native American woman to do so. Textile artist Ramona Sakiestewa (Hopi), who served as SWAIA president from 1980 to 1982.
“The board is excited by the impressive background Peone brings to SWAIA to lead Indian Market through our centennial year (2022) and into the next century. Peone’s 30 years of experience in Indian Country, astute business and financial background, as well as great managerial and leadership skills, were a perfect fit for SWAIA’s needs going forward,” said Board Chair Tom Teegarden.
The board has an ambitious vision for the future of SWAIA, building on past successes and taking the organization to new levels of impact that benefit Native artists. Part of SWAIA’s mission is to form solid partnerships to ensure the long-term sustainability of the organization, which aligns with Peone’s leadership philosophy.
Like art organizations throughout the world, SWAIA faces the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. On April 4, 2020, the nonprofit announced that this year’s Santa Fe Indian Market would be postponed until 2021.
“It was a tough decision to postpone the 99th Indian Market this year in the wake of COVID-19, especially given the economic impact on our artists and the event’s $165 million-dollar impact on the economy of northern New Mexico,” said Traci Rabbit (Cherokee Nation), artist and SWAIA board member. “We must move forward, and I am confident Kim’s background and abilities will successfully lead SWAIA into the future. There are many challenges ahead for organizations like SWAIA, and the board is committed to ensuring that its legacy and influence will not only withstand those challenges but emerge stronger with lessons learned.”