American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin announces new leadership team

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The American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin (AICCW) today announced the addition of Heather Cloud Wakajapi as executive director and Paul Smith as assistant executive director. 

Heather Cloud Wakajapi (Ho-Chunk Nation) will serve as the organization’s new executive director. She has more than 25 years of customer service and management experience, having served a variety of roles in her work with Ho-Chunk Nation and the United States Navy, where she served as Second-Class IT Petty Officer.

“It’s important to me to give back to our community and I’m excited to bring awareness to the Chamber and help other Tribal members improve their quality of life with access to the resources they need,” Cloud said in a statement. “Our culture and sharing our values with the younger generation through mentoring will help ensure traditional works continue to flourish for future generations.” 

Paul R. Smith (Oneida Nation) will become assistant executive director. He brings more than 30 years of professional experience in the housing industry to the AICCW, including 15 years in the nonprofit housing sector, training over a thousand volunteers on how to build new and repair old homes for underserved families in Milwaukee and around the country. 

“By joining the AICCW team, I hope to continue my family’s long history of serving the Native community of Milwaukee and Wisconsin,” Smith said in a statement. “I am excited to bring the services of AICCW to assist and support our Indigenous business partners throughout Wisconsin.”

For over 30 years, the AICCW has promoted economic development in Wisconsin Indian Country by offering targeted services to American Indian entrepreneurs, according to a press release. Since its inception in 1991, the Chamber has advocated for, provided access to, and delivered community and economic development resources, tools, and networks to Wisconsin’s Native Nations, businesses, and entrepreneurs.