Dr. Sarah Kastelic (formerly Dr. Sarah Hicks) currently serves as Deputy Director of the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA), the only national organization charged with improving the lives of Native children and families. She joined NICWA in January 2011 to serve as chief of staff. She is Alutiiq, an enrolled member of the Native Village of Ouzinkie.
In 1997 and 1998, Sarah worked as a social services assistant and child welfare specialist in the Office of Tribal Services at the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, DC. From 1998 to 2010, Sarah served the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI)—the oldest, largest, and most representative national organization serving tribal governments. In 1998, she began her NCAI career in the welfare reform program. Sarah’s experience in leading NCAI’s welfare reform reauthorization efforts gave her a sense of the need for timely, credible data to inform policymaking at the tribal and national levels. She also saw first-hand the tension between tribes reacting to the policy proposals of others and the opportunities for tribes to develop their own, proactive policy solutions.
In 2003, Sarah became the founding director of NCAI’s Policy Research Center. Her early experiences at NCAI led to Sarah’s commitment to the Policy Center’s core values of a tribally driven research agenda, research conducted for the benefit of tribal communities, and a capacity-building approach to research. With guidance from tribal leadership and NCAI, Sarah set the strategic direction for the Policy Research Center and provided oversight of the Center’s work. She also served as principal investigator on a number of the Center’s projects. In 2009, Sarah assumed additional NCAI-wide administrative responsibilities, serving as the director of policy and programs.
After receiving a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Goucher College in 1996, Sarah earned a master’s degree (1997) and PhD (2008) from the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. [Source: National Indian Child Welfare Association]