Raina Thiele, Athabascan and Yup’ik, is President of Thiele Strategies. Before starting her own firm, Raina worked for President Obama in the White House Office of intergovernmental Affairs. Raina joined the show to share her story that led her from Alaska to the White House and now to her current work. Raina’s story is a great example of how hard work, willingness to take on new challenges, and timing can come together to present amazing opportunities. Raina certainly capitalized on her experience to advance the profile of indian Country.
After attending Yale for her undergraduate degree, and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government for her Master’s Degree, Raina worked for the Office of Management and Budget at the White House. In that role, she gained experience in the inner workings of various programs funded by the government. Eventually, Raina had the chance to work more directly with President Obama through the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. It was that move that placed Raina front-and-center on President Obama’s work on issues in indian Country.
In her role, Raina worked on several high-profile initiatives. She helped plan the now infamous trip the President and First Lady took to Standing Rock. There, they met with young people that moved the first couple profoundly. Upon returning to DC, the President directed his staff to work on issues impacting Native youth. It was then that Generation indigenous was created.
That trip alone would be a career highlight for many. Raina was able to double up when she helped arrange a trip to Alaska for the President. Most domestic trips last just a few hours, but the President stayed in Alaska for several days where he saw the impact of climate change and met with Alaska Natives during his trip.Travel and meet-and-greets are part of life for a President. Much of it is probably routine and many of the details probably fade from memory. Both trips appeared to inform the president through the remainder of his presidency.
Raina shared details of these trips, her college experience, and more on this episode. Have a listen!