Christopher [Chris] L. James was appointed recently as assistant administrator for the Office of Native American Affairs at the U.S. Small Business Administration. He is responsible for coordinating and directing SBA programs within the Office of Native American Affairs, to promote and enhance small business services and opportunities for Native Americans, including reservation-based Native Americans and tribal governments.
Before joining the SBA, James was an associate program manager at the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI). There, he managed Native Initiatives, which included the CDFI Fund’s Expanding Native Opportunities capacity and training program and the Native American CDFI Assistance (NACA) Program.
James has more than a decade of experience in the field of small business and economic development on Native American lands. Prior to joining the CDFI Fund, he was associate director and senior loan officer for the Sequoyah Fund, Inc. While there he gained experience in organizational management including the implementation of policies and procedures that benefit Native American communities. James was also responsible for creating initiatives designed to enhance entrepreneurial development and access to capital for Tribal and community members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
James earned a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and a master’s degree in Entrepreneurship from Western Carolina University. He is a member of the Indian Affairs Executive Working Group and chairs the sub-committee on economic development. He was previously an active member of the Certified Entrepreneurial Council, Blue Ridge Entrepreneurial Council, National Association of Developmental Organizations, and the North Carolina Incubator Association.
James is from Cherokee where his family has had small businesses on the Qualla Boundary for more than 50 years. He is married with three children, and resides in Alexandria, Va.