An enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation, Hepsi Barnett currently serves as Director of Projects and Research with the American Indian College Fund in Denver, Colorado. Among other duties, Hepsi is leading the Embrey American Indian Women’s Leadership Project, which was initiated in October 2010.
Prior to joining the American Indian College Fund, Barnett served as the Chief of Staff under Principal Chief Jim Gray at the Osage Nation from 2006-2010. Barnett was drawn back home to Oklahoma after the passage of P.L. 108-431 in December of 2004. This law -- passed by the United States at the urging of the Osage Nation -- reaffirms the inherent sovereign right of the Osage Tribe to determine its own form of government and membership. Immediately upon passage, the Osage Nation embarked upon an intensive wholesale government reform effort, which culminated after a year when the Osage Nation Constitution was overwhelmingly approved by a vote of the Osage people in a constitutional referendum. During that year-long effort, Barnett served as the lead staff for the Osage Government Reform Commission and coordinated all reform activities.
Barnett also has worked as a Project Manager and Legislative Analyst for the New Mexico Supreme Court and a Research Associate for the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development. Other highlights of her career include serving as the Director of the Canadian Outward Bound Wilderness School, along with 19 years of experience in place-based or experiential education. Barnett received a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 2000.