Elsie Meeks to serve as State Director
for Rural Development in South Dakota The Obama Administration has announced that Elsie Meeks will serve as South Dakota State Director for Rural Development at the USDA. "Elsie Meeks will be an important advocate on behalf of rural communities throughout the state and help administer the valuable programs and services provided by the USDA that can enhance their economic success," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Elsie Meeks is an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota Tribe, and was recently the CEO/President of First Nations Oweesta Corporation (OWEESTA) a subsidiary of First Nations Development Institute, which provides investment capital, technical assistance and training to help Native communities develop community development financial institutions. Meeks has over 20 years experience working for Native community economic development. Prior to her leadership and work at OWEESTA, she was active for 15 years in the development and management of The Lakota Fund, a small business and microenterprise development loan fund on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Meeks has served on and chaired numerous boards, including the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights where she was the first Native American to serve on the Commission. Meeks attended Oglala Lakota College for General Studies. Rural Development administers and manages over 40 housing, business, and community infrastructure and facility programs as laid out by Congress through a network of 6,100 employees located in 500 national, state and local offices. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of over $114 billion in loans and loan guarantees. The USDA provides leadership on food, agriculture and natural resources and touches the life of every American. Reflecting President Obama's commitment to expanding economic opportunities in rural America, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and the USDA are working to enhance availability of broadband, promote the development of renewable energy, to conserve, maintain and improve our natural resources and environment, and promote a sustainable, safe, sufficient and nutritious food supply.
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