Dr. Sarah Kastelic is Alutiiq, an enrolled member of the Native Village of Ouzinkie. In January 2011, She joined the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) — the most comprehensive source of information and advocacy on American Indian child welfare — to serve as chief of staff. She was an integral part of the transition plan for NICWA Founding Executive Director Terry Cross. In December 2014, she fulfilled a deliberative four-year executive transition plan and became the executive director of NICWA.
From 1998-2010, Dr. Kastelic served the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI). She began her NCAI career in the welfare reform program. Her experience in leading NCAI’s welfare reform reauthorization efforts gave her a sense of the need for timely, credible data to inform policymaking at the tribal and national levels. She also saw first-hand the tension between tribes reacting to the policy proposals of others and the opportunities for tribes to develop their own, proactive policy solutions. In 2003, at the age of 29, Dr. Kastelic became the founding director of NCAI’s Policy Research Center. Her early experiences at NCAI led to her commitment to the Policy Center’s core values of a tribally-driven research agenda, research conducted for the benefit of tribal communities, and a capacity-building approach to research.
After receiving a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Goucher College in 1996, she earned a master’s degree (1997) and PhD (2008) from the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. In 2014, she was the recipient of the Independent Sector’s American Express NGen Leadership Award.