Brenda’s career is marked by her significant service on tribal courts, as well as her experience in both the executive and legislative branches of federal government. Brenda presently serves as an Associate Justice on the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Supreme Court, a position she has held since 2000. She has also served as an Associate Justice on the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians Supreme Court since 2008. Brenda previously served as an Appellate Court Justice on the Lower Sioux Indian Community Appellate Court (2007-2011) and as an Alternate Supreme Court Justice on the Poarch Band of Creek Indians Supreme Court (2008-2011).
Prior to joining Pipestem Law, Brenda spent seven years working in the federal government in Indian affairs. Brenda began her federal service working with President Clinton’s Initiative on Race before moving to the Department of the Interior – Bureau of Indian Affairs’s office in Washington, D.C. Brenda started her tenure at the BIA in the Office of Tribal Services working on 638 contract support issues but served the majority of her time as a Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs and the Deputy Commissioner of Indian Affairs (1999-2004), working with tribes on various issues including trust reform and inter-agency matters. Brenda served as senior staff for the Trust Policy and Procedures Project, drafting and implementing Departmental reform for Indian trust management policies, regulations, and procedures. During her tenure with the federal government, she also worked a one-year legislative detail in 2002 on the U.S. Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior and Related Agencies, where she assisted the Democratic Majority Staff in the preparation and editing of legislation related to appropriations for the Department of Interior and other agencies.
Brenda is a graduate of Columbia University School of Law (1999), where she was recognized as a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar during her first and final year of school. In April 1999, she was awarded the Bernstein, Litowitz, Berger & Grossman, LLP Fellowship for Public Interest Law. She completed a judicial clerk externship with the Honorable Robert W. Sweet, United States District Court, Southern District of New York, during the fall of 1996. During her time in law school, she co-chaired her school’s Native American Law School Association.
Prior to attending law school, Brenda worked for five years with ORBIS Associates, a consulting firm specializing in Indian education. Brenda worked extensively with tribal schools and Local Education Agencies in a 26 state service region to develop their U.S. Department of Education funded Indian Education programs.
Brenda, a citizen of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians currently serves as Chair of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian Board of Trustees.