top of page

About Us

Your Success, Close at Hand

The Whitener Group is a native-owned consulting group dedicated to the advancement and sustainability of tribes. At our root, we are a group of Whiteners along with a bunch of other industry experts that are confident enough to want to work with a group of Whiteners.  

 

As you might gather from our tone, although we take our work very seriously, we work hard to not take ourselves too seriously.

Our Story

We have been around as a company since 2009, but the owners (a couple of whom even classify as elders!) have been working for and with tribes across the country for the entirety of their careers.


We are from Indian Country, so we know Indian Country. If you are a tribe or native-led organization, well, what we bring is that you don't have to spend a bunch of time educating us on the whats, whos, hows, and whys of tribes. If you are trying to engage with tribes and want to do better, we can help with that too. 

 

Our clients are tribes, tribally owned businesses, tribal organizations, federal & state governments, and nonprofits. 

Meet the Owners

TWG was incorporated by brothers Bob and Ron Whitener in 2009. Jennifer Whitener Ulrich, the daughter of Bob, was later added as an owner in the firm. Bob, Ron, and Jenn have each been integral in the foundations and development of TWG since its inception.

Bob Whitener (he/him)

“The MPA”

(Squaxin Island Tribe)

 

As co-owner and CEO of The Whitener Group, Bob Whitener provides tribal governmental and enterprise development services for tribes. 

 

Bob has over 40 years of experience working with tribal governments and Indian Country enterprises, serving as the CEO/Board President for Island Enterprises, as the economic development arm of the Squaxin Island Tribe for over 8 years, and spending 6 years as the Executive Director for the Squaxin Island Tribe itself. Bob’s Masters in Public Administration is from Evergreen State College.  

 

Bob has expertise in the areas of finance, administration, human resources systems, tribal-state compact negotiations, policy development, natural resources management, and federal negotiations. 

 

When not found deep in work, you will find Bob traveling (to Maine and Mexico, mainly), tinkering in his garage (either at home or here at TWG’s offices) usually on a boat or TWO, or out on the water, of course. 

 

Ron Whitener (he/him)

“The JD” 

(Squaxin Island Tribe)

 

As a co-owner of The Whitener Group, Ron Whitener provides tribal court and justice system development services for tribes.

 

Ron worked as in-house legal counsel for the Squaxin Island Tribe before returning to the University of Washington School of Law to teach. While there, he formed the Tribal Court Public Defense Clinic, after which he was appointed Chief Judge for the Tulalip Tribes Tribal Court, where he presided over the Healing to Wellness Court. Among other awards, in 2011, Ron was named a Champion of Change by President Barack Obama for his work in providing public defense in tribal courts.  He continues to serve as a pro tem and appellate judge for various tribal courts in the PNW. Ron graduated from the University of Washington School of Law.  

 

Ron has extensive experience with tribal court assessment; justice system strategic planning; code writing; judicial trainings; court forms, manuals, and benchbook development; and Healing to Wellness Court development.  

 

When he isn’t traveling to a tribal court, you can find him plotting to buy another boat, taking a nap (as he will tell you is his soon-to-be-elder right), collecting safety items in his garage (you can never have enough bottled water), or spending time with his doggo and family. 

Jennifer Whitener Ulrich (she/her)

“The MBA” 

(Descendant Squaxin Island Tribe)

 

As a co-owner of The Whitener Group, Jenn serves as COO of The Whitener Group and provides strategic facilitation and economic development support for tribes and tribal enterprises. 

 

As the former Business Development Director for Island Enterprises (IEI), the economic development corporation for Squaxin Island Tribe, Jennifer was in charge of marketing and advertising for IEI’s eight diverse businesses. She was also responsible for researching, writing, and implementing business plans for many of the tribally owned corporations. Jennifer holds an MBA in Sustainable Business from Pinchot University.

 

Jenn’s expertise lies in economic development, strategic planning, nonprofit organizational development, entrepreneurial systems, marketing, and financial analysis. 

 

When not in the office (which isn’t as often as it should be!) you will find Jenn spending time with her two daughters, beading on her loom (AKA learning the next hobby that has caught her fancy this month) or scouring thrift stores for lost treasures. You might also notice a countdown in her zoom background because she is forever waiting for November 1 when she is finally “allowed” to turn on her Christmas music.

Meet The First String

Mitzie Whitener (she/her)

“The Office Auntie” 

(Squaxin Island Tribe)

 

Mitzie brings over 30 years of expertise of managing dynamic and resourceful teams for tribes with a special expertise in technology. She directed Squaxin Island Tribe’s Information Services Department for over 20 years. The Whitener Group is now lucky enough to have her join us as our Corporate Systems Officer (CSO) and lead the newly created service division, the Native Nerd Network. 

Programs she has managed range from 1:1 community technology support for elders to the early acquisition of Broadband for the tribal community through innovative partnerships with local technology providers. Mitzie cares most about where and how technology meets people. Her degree is in Computer Science from Evergreen State College. 

In her free time, Mitzie can be found mixing teas, goofing around with her son, pursuing her interest in massage therapy, and serving as the office aunt and life coach. 

Joshua Whitener (he/him)

Ahhh we collected another Whitener! jk, “The Tech & Data Guy” 

(Squaxin Island Tribe)

Joshua Whitener worked for the Squaxin Island tribe as a GIS Manager and Software Developer for 11 years. His experience includes working with rural and underserved communities in locations ranging from tribal nations in the Pacific Northwest, tribal communities in central Brazil, and minority communities (including students that are deaf or suffer learning disabilities) in West Africa. He graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in Sociology and Public Health.

Joshua’s work for TWG highlights his skills in project management, information technologies, training in computer literacy, digital navigation, and social work. Josh also serves as the Corporate Technology Officer for the Native Nerd Network here at TWG! 

When he’s not at his computer, you can find Joshua reminiscing about his time in Cameroon, dreaming about the logistics of Canoe Journey, or participating in one of his tribe’s policy committees. 

Kassidy Whitener (she/her)

“The Court Assessment Stalker” (lol!) 

(Squaxin Island Tribe)

 

Kassidy has provided administrative, research, survey design, tech-support, drafting and other necessary support services and has been happily a part of the TWG team for 6 years. Kassidy currently serves as the Tribal Court Assessment Coordinator and her work for TWG includes arranging complex schedules and travel, creating budgets, occasionally taking part in court assessments. Her bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and Business Administration is from the University of Washington.

 

When not in the office, you can find Kassidy hanging out with her two beautiful cats, at the gym, diving for geoducks in the Puget Sound, or on a random adventure. She has a passion for monitoring and separating the recyclables, don't let her catch you wishcycling! She is definitely not a morning person and seems to always get a second wind when 3pm comes along.

Kate Fort (she/her)

“The Professor” 

Kate is a nationally recognized scholar in the field of federal Indian law, with specific expertise in the Indian Child Welfare Act and tribal child welfare systems. She is the author of American Indian Children and the Law: Cases and Materials. She is the Director of Clinics at Michigan State University College of Law and runs the Indian Law Clinic, where she teaches the Clinic class and other classes in federal Indian law. In this role, she works closely with tribal in-house attorneys. Her JD is from Michigan State University College of Law, and she is a proud Spartan.

 

Her work for TWG includes tribal court assessments, child welfare program assessments, and code writing and review.

 

When not teaching or working with TWG, you will find Kate at her lake cottage reading a book, embroidering, or walking her puppers. In the summer she’s on the pontoon boat while her two boys play in the water, and in the winter she plays a mean game of pond hockey with them, all while something delicious simmers on the stove—she is gourmet like that!

Addie Smith (she/her)

“The Double Threat”

Addie is the former staff attorney at the National Indian Child Welfare Association where she helped coordinate the response to Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl and comments to the ICWA Federal Regulations. She also worked on issues related to child welfare and juvenile justice for Oregon Governor Kate Brown and as Counsel to the Judiciary Committees in the Oregon State Legislature. 

 

Her work with TWG focuses on improving tribal courts through systemic assessment, stakeholder engagement, and strategic planning. She also continues to work with states to change policies and improve systems to improve ICWA compliance. Both her law degree and Masters in Social Work are from Washington University in St. Louis. 

 

When not working with TWG, you will find Addie outside: hiking, skiing, mountain climbing, surfing or backpacking; or inside: reading, practicing yoga or trying a new recipe. She is really just your basic PNW gal. She would like you to know she is VERY chill (even if her co-workers don't always agree). 

 

Cameron Goodwin (he/him)

“The Tribal Biz Guy”

(Squaxin Island Tribe)

 

Cam Goodwin has been a senior level executive for 13 years in Indian Country, as CEO, General Manager, CFO and Controller at various tribal enterprises. 

 

Cam’s work for TWG incorporates his knowledge  in finances, convenience store operations, tobacco manufacturing, and gaming. 

 

In his free time you can find him spending time with his family, out geoducking, helping to remodel his sister's house or playing with his personal investment portfolio. 

Monica Williamson (she/her)

“The Artist” 

Monica Williamson brings 8 years of detailed project coordination and graphic design knowledge together to create specialized information sharing.  She previously worked as the Program Coordinator at the Indigenous Law and Policy Center at Michigan State University. She now partners with academic, state, and nonprofit organizations on conference coordination, especially technical support for virtual events, as well as graphic design in the form of websites (like this one), publications, and event marketing materials. 

 

At TWG, where she serves as our Creative Director, Monica develops and implements communication and design strategies. Monica’s Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology and minor in American Indian and Indigenous Studies are from Michigan State University. 

 

When not working on her numerous projects, you can find Monica doing yoga, enjoying an excellent hike, plotting the build of a “catio”  or working on arts and crafts with kiddos.

Kiana Arnall (she/her)

“The Cat Herder” 

Kiana brings 4 years of administrative experience in the legal and real estate fields to TWG. 

 

In her role at TWG, she provides support in various areas as the Executive Assistant, from drafting contracts and scheduling meetings to editing documents and booking travel. 

 

Outside of work you’ll find Kiana baking, napping, playing the piano, and trying to convince all three of her cats to stop using the sofa as a scratch post.

Our Core Areas of Work

We like to talk about our work in four core areas: economy & governance, court & justice, training & facilitation and tech & communication.

bottom of page