Office of Tribal Government Relations
Stephanie Elaine Birdwell is the Department of Veterans Affairsâ€™ Director, Office of Tribal Government Relations (OTGR), which is located within the Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs. The VA OTGR was established in 2011 as part of the agencyâ€™s effort to implement the VA tribal consultation policy and enhance relationships with 566 tribal governments located in 38 states.
Ms. Birdwell has twenty years experience working in Indian Affairs, at both the federal and tribal government levels. She began her federal career as a social worker with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Northern Pueblos Agency in New Mexico. Ms. Birdwell moved on from the agency social service program to serve as the BIA southwest regional social worker (Albuquerque, NM) and BIA division chief, human services at the headquarters level (Washington, D.C.). She also served in various leadership and management capacities (BIA Southwest Regional Office Acting Deputy Director, Indian Services; BIA Central Office Acting Assistant to the Deputy Bureau Director, Office of Indian Services; BIA Central Office Acting Assistant to the Deputy Bureau Director, Office of Trust Services, Bureau of Indian Education Deputy Director, Policy, Evaluation and Post Secondary Education) within DOI/BIA/BIE and was selected to participate in the DOI Senior Executive Candidate Development Class #16. Along the way, she served for two years with the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census managing field operations in New Mexico, Utah and Navajo Nation during the 2000 Decennial â€śundercountâ€ť survey.
Ms. Birdwell earned her Masterâ€™s Degree in Social Welfare from the University of California at Berkeley and her Bachelorâ€™s Degree in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma.
On a personal note, she is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, where she was born and raised, and is mother to twin daughters. Ms. Birdwell was inspired to become a social worker by her father, Dwight Birdwell, a Vietnam Veteran.