Rhonda L. Morningstar Pope is the Chairwoman of Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians. She is serving her 3rd term as Chairwoman. She is currently attending Sacramento City College pursing degrees in both Business and Native American Studies. She regularly attends conferences and consultations designed to promote responsible tribal governance and leadership. During her leadership of the Tribe, she has established a strong tribal government and infrastructure for ongoing Tribal programs. She established a Tribal office in Sacramento and on the reservation for ongoing Tribal and environmental affairs. Some of the programs established under her leadership include Tribal Member Services, which provides education, social services, and child care services for Tribal members. She has established an Environmental Department, hiring a director to handle environmental, cultural, and NAGPRA related issues. She formed the Jesse Flyingcloud Pope Foundation in 2007 in honor of her father. Resources from the Foundation are used to support charitable programs designed to assist local community members and offer educational opportunities, specifically promoting and enhancing Tribal traditions, cultural awareness and community support.More on Rhonda
Arnold Samuel is General Counsel to the Buena Vista Rancheria, and has served in that capacity since 2006. As General Counsel, Arnold oversees the Tribe’s legal department, providing legal support to the Tribal Council, Tribal departments and key management employees. Prior to assuming the General Counsel position, Arnold represented the Tribe as outside counsel for his firm, Albietz & Samuel. Arnold has been representing California and Nevada Native tribes in many capacities since 2000. Before his indoctrination in Indian Country, Arnold was a Deputy City Attorney for the City of Sacramento and an associate for a small litigation firm in Los Angeles. Arnold was born and raised in Southern California. He obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration (Finance) from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo before earning his Juris Doctor from McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento. Arnold was drawn to the legal profession by the broad diversity of career paths available to law graduates and his genuine interest in doing work that helps others. His work with Buena Vista exposes Arnold to business, government, politics and just about every aspect of law. Arnold is a proud father of a young daughter. When he is not hard at work for the Tribe or taking care of his child, Arnold enjoys watching and playing just about any sport, working out at the gym, and playing poker. One of his future ambitions is to become an expert home chef.
Denean Swenson who studied at California State University, Sacramento and has a wealth of experience in Office Administration, Accounting and Customer Service. Denean is currently responsible for the Tribe’s Office Manager and Tribal Administrator Duties, including the Tribe’s accounting functions. One of Denean’s accomplishments outside of the Office was to implement and manage a summer swim lesson program in her town that she researched and presented to the Town Council for funding. The program has been in place and successful for the last 4 years, serving the youth of Denean’s community.
Mr. Michael DeSpain is currently serving as the Tribe's Natural Resource Director. Mike has Over 30 years professional experience in all aspects of Natural Resources, Environmental, Housing, Emergency Management, and Historic Preservation.
Mike has been responsible for writing and implementing emergency management, preservation planning, and environmental policy and law, plans and procedures for the Tribe. He has also been responsible for the application and successful management of several grants for tribal emergency management, housing, environmental management and transportation and has written, awarded and administrated numerous U.S. EPA, P.L. 638 Contracts with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Reclamation, HUD, Natural Resource Conservation Service, and Indian Health Service and has been a grant proposal reviewer for the FEMA Tribal Homeland Security Grant Program in 2012, 2014, 2015, and 2016.
Omar Tinoco is the Environmental Technician to the Buena Vista Rancheria and has served in that capacity since 2015. Omar grew up in South Kern County in the farming community of Arvin, California. He graduated from the University of California, Davis in 2014, where he studied Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning with emphasis in water management. As Environmental Technician, Omar oversees and implements Environmental Planning, Clean Water Act 106 and most recently Clean Water Act 319. He has academic and the ground experience with environmental management, stormwater pollution, best management practices, and natural resources. His goal is to learn and experience tribal environmental management as much as possible in order to secure water and environmental resources for present and future tribal generations. When Omar is not at work, he is being active running, playing soccer, enjoying a nice hike or visiting new places. A future desire of Omar is to travel to all 50 U.S states as well as set foot in every continent.