While her first interest was in developing communities outside of the United States, Natasha John ’10 discovered that familiar places needed development, too.
John is a government and legislative affairs associate at the Navajo Nation Washington Office (NNWO). The associates work on various issues that are important to the Navajo Nation. They advocate to the federal government including agencies, the White House and Congress on behalf of the Navajo Nation. John covers issues related to infrastructure, tax reform, economic development and energy. Her current focus is tax reform.
The NNWO, located on Capitol Hill, is part of the Navajo Nation’s President’s Cabinet. There are 567 tribes in the United States, each with its own government. Tribes work on a government-to-government basis similar to how foreign nation-states interact with the federal government. Navajo Nation is the largest tribal nation in the U.S. with more than 300,000 citizens.
John, originally from Stillwater, Okla., started her undergraduate career at a different college before a friend invited her to a class at Concordia.
“I really liked the small class sizes and seminar style of learning,” John said. “After that experience, I transferred to Concordia.”
John, who majored in global studies, history and political science, said she was always interested in public service and in how governments were structured.
“All my Concordia professors and courses really demonstrated the mission of the school, which is to engage responsibly and to think critically,” John said. “These are the main skills that I learned at Concordia and I use them every day in my job.”
After graduating from Concordia, John decided to pursue her master’s degree in political science at the University of Central Oklahoma.
Her first experience in Washington, D.C., was working for a now former Oklahoma representative in the House of Representatives. She found the fast pace and high-level environment exciting and exactly what she had been looking for.
John began an internship that focused on public-private partnerships. When that internship ended, she focused on finishing her thesis and finding another job opportunity. She obtained two very important internships: the first with Sen. Tom Coburn and a second at the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs with Sen. John Barrasso. At the end of 2013, she was hired as a full-time staffer at the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs where she worked for three years before starting at the NNWO.
It wasn’t until further into her education when John realized that in addition to communities outside the U.S., the Native American communities – the places familiar to her growing up – needed development, too.
“They were right here in America. It just seemed like the most American thing I could do,” John said. “After I started working in Indian Affairs, I experienced similarities between development issues for Indian tribes and international developing nations. What has made it most exciting for me is that Indian tribes have a legal status rooted in the Constitution that makes this field so important to the existence of the United States and simultaneously to Indian tribes.”
John said that living near D.C. has given her the greatest career opportunities that she could ask for. And, on weekends, she likes to relax by hiking and exploring the beautiful countryside. Favorite touring spots include the U.S. Capitol and the National Archives.
“I also enjoy reflecting on the important history of Native Americans and the positive ways they have influenced America,” she said. “It has not always been easy to live and work in D.C., but God has placed me here for a reason and I intend to make to most of it!”