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Meet The Team

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Bob Whitener, MPA

Owner & Managing Member
Enrolled Squaxin Island Tribal Member

As owner and managing member of The Whitener Group, Bob Whitener has over 30 years of experience working with tribal governments and enterprises within Indian Country.  Bob has a Bachelor's degree with an emphasis on business management and a Masters of Public Administration. 

Bob served as the CEO/Board President for Island Enterprises Inc. (IEI) for over 8 years. IEI is the economic development corporation for the Squaxin Island Tribe. At IEI, Bob handled all aspects of the corporation from its incorporation to its growth to nearly 100 million dollars in gross sales and 10 million dollars in net revenues. IEI created, acquired & managed a variety of tribal, state and international corporations. During his tenure at IEI, he created the Skookum Creek Tobacco Co. and quickly achieved profitability despite many roadblocks including state and private opposition. 

Bob also has a deep understanding of the relationship between tribal economic activities and governance.  Prior to creating IEI, Bob served for over 6 years as the Executive Director of the Squaxin Island Tribe. This entailed the management of the Tribe’s governmental programs, management of over 100 staff members and providing policy guidance to the Tribal Council.

In addition to having run tribal corporations and government; he has extensive experience in the areas of natural resources management, finance administration, human resources systems, tribal-state compact negotiations, policy development, and federal negotiations. Bob is an enrolled member of the Squaxin Island Tribe. 

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Ron Whitener, JD

Owner & Member, Director of Justice Consulting
Enrolled Squaxin Island Tribal Member

Ron is a member of the Squaxin Island Tribe and grew up in his community as a treaty commercial and subsistence fisherman and hunter and worked for his Tribe’s natural resources department until leaving for law school. In 1994, Ron graduated from the University of Washington Law School and was hired as the first in-house legal counsel for his Tribe. In that capacity, Ron advised and represented the Tribal Council, departments, and economic enterprises on issues related to treaty rights, tribal governance, Indian health, and economic development.

​In 2000, Ron joined the Northwest Justice Project’s Native American Unit and represented Natives in tribal, state, and federal courts. In 2002, Ron joined the faculty of the University of Washington Law School where he created the Tribal Court Public Defense Clinic and was awarded the Shanara Gilbert Emerging Clinician of the Year from the American Association of Law Schools. In 2011, Ron was named a Champion of Change by President Barack Obama for his work advocating for public defense to juveniles in tribal courts. In addition to his clinical work, Ron served as the Chief Judge for the Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Indian Reservation.  In 2014, Ron left the UW to accept appointment as the Chief Judge for the Tulalip Tribes but remains on the UW Faculty as an Affiliate Professor of Law.  Ron retired from Tulalip in 2020. Through The Whitener Group, a consulting company Ron formed in 2009 with his brother and niece, he assists tribes in developing and improving their justice systems. Ron has conducted over 70 tribal court evaluations in Alaska, and approximately 20 in the Lower 48.  Ron is Order of the Coif and Order of Barristers.

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Jennifer Whitener Ulrich, MBA

Corporate Operations Officer
Strategy & Business Development Consultant

Jennifer Whitener Ulrich is a primary consultant and project manager at TWG. As COO, she is responsible for all the day-to-day operations and financial systems while also providing direct consulting services to tribes and tribal organizations across the country. Her background in business and understanding of Indian Country provides clients necessary insight. 

Jennifer has her MBA in Sustainable Business and is passionate about economic development in Indian Country.  Jennifer was instrumental in the development of Squaxin Island Tribe’s Ta-Qwo-Ma Business Center - which was created to assist tribal entrepreneurs and to build the private sector economy of the Tribe. As the former Business Development Director for Island Enterprises (IEI), the economic development corp. 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 has owned her own businesses and loves bringing that experience to Indian Country.  In addition to her consulting work, Jennifer’s passions are food based business development, facilitating business planning classes for entrepreneurs and warm weather!