A unanimous vote in the U.S. Senate made it official: Lillian Sparks is the new Commissioner of the Administration for Native Americans, a wing of the Administration for Children and Families at the Department of Health and Human Services. A Lakota woman of the Rosebud and Oglala Sioux Tribes, Sparks will head the ANA starting this spring, working with them to strengthen the social and economic stability of 562 federally recognized tribes. Health professionals may know the ANA from its partnership with the Indian Health Service and Mountain Plains Health Consortium to train Native American youth in Community Emergency Response Training (CERT)/First Responder (FR) training and emergency preparedness.

Sparks comes to the position with an impressive résumé: She started her career with a BA from Morgan State University and a JD from Georgetown. In 2004, USA Today magazine chose her as one of seven promising young Native American Leaders. She has served as the president of the Washington, DC, chapter of the Native American Bar Association and as a member of the National Congress of American Indians. Before being appointed Commissioner this year, Sparks was the executive director of the National Indian Education Association.

“Lillian Sparks will be an outstanding leader at the Administration for Native Americans,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “She has devoted her career to supporting the educational pursuits of Native American students, protecting the rights of indigenous people, and empowering tribal communities. I look forward to working with her in the months and years ahead.”

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