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The unintentional executive

Jacob Moore named ASU's new vice president, special advisor to the president on American Indian affairs

Jacob Moore sitting at a table with a bright blue and brown tribal design.

Jacob Moore poses at the Hayden Library’s Indigenous Labriola Center table on June 1. He was recently promoted to vice president and special advisor to the president on American Indian affairs. His tribal heritage is Lakota, Dakota, Tohono O’odham and Akimel O’odham. The Labriola Center's table was designed to evoke the ancient canal system built by the Huhugam that first sustained people in the Valley. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News

June 27, 2023

Editor’s note: This story is featured in the 2023 year in review.

Fourteen years ago, Jacob Moore held a part-time management intern position with Arizona State University while he was studying for his MBA, with no long-term plans to work at the university.

He had a career in banking before returning to college to earn his bachelor’s degree in finance at the age of 40 with the goal of working for tribes. Moore went on to earn his MBA from the W. P. Carey School of Business almost a decade later.

He has evolved from a management intern to executive leadership and today is the new vice president and special advisor to the president on American Indian affairs. But suggesting Moore was simply an intern doesn’t properly account for his years of experience in banking, health policy, economic development, tribal government, gaming, entrepreneurship and eight years on the Arizona State Board of Education.

Now in his 60s, Moore readily admits he’s a late bloomer.

“I only wish it happened 20 years earlier,” Moore said with laugh. “But I’m not bothered by it. My path has brought me to where I am today, and that’s how it’s supposed to be."

"I am grateful for the opportunity to be of service to ASU and to Indigenous students and communities,” said Moore, who is Lakota, Dakota, Akimel O’odham and Tohono O’odham.

His new post starts July 1.

“Arizona State University is working harder than ever to support the success of Native American students, and Jacob Moore has contributed meaningfully to our progress,” ASU President Michael M. Crow said. "Jacob is knowledgeable and passionate about developing better ways to serve tribal communities, and we are excited to see where his leadership will guide us.”

Moore is the former associate vice president of tribal relations in the Office of Government and Community Affairs. He was responsible for the intergovernmental affairs between ASU and tribal nations and communities.

His new job duties will focus on expanding the efforts of those who came before him in his new role as special advisor to the president.

Moore said ASU has a legacy of prolific leaders who proceeded him in the role of special advisor on tribal affairs. The first was Peterson Zah, former president of the Navajo Nation; followed by Diane Humetewa, former U.S. attorney and a current federal District Court judge; and, most recently, Bryan McKinley Jones Brayboy, a well-established Native scholar and researcher.

Brayboy said Moore is the perfect choice for this role.

“Vice President Moore brings an unbelievable skill set that is rooted in being a remarkable ambassador and emissary for ASU,” said Brayboy, who became dean of Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy on June 1. “He is a brilliant thinker. He is also beloved among the faculty, students and staff at ASU and among tribal peoples across the nation. His deep knowledge of ASU, coupled with his lived experiences, situate him to take on this role in wonderful ways. I’m thrilled for Jacob. And for ASU.”

Moore’s goal is to build upon the university’s previous work to make higher education more accessible for American Indian/Indigenous students and strengthen the university’s engagement with tribal nations and communities.

His new responsibilities will cover a broad spectrum of duties and transformational initiatives, including aligning research projects with tribal priorities, sustainability practices that incorporate traditional knowledge in a respectful way, collaborations with a wide variety of stakeholders, and social advancements in equity and global health.

Video by Ken Fagan/ASU News

One of the larger objectives before Moore is to enact strategies that emphasize student success by aligning programs and services — from recruitment to retention to career services, on to graduation and, ultimately, alumni and donor relations — into one coherent system.

“Dr. Brayboy’s research identifies four key elements for Native American student success in higher education: academic preparation, cultural congruity, financial need, and role models and mentors,” Moore said. “As we continue to do a thorough analysis of student data, we see wellness and well-being as a fifth key element to student success. It’s an opportunity to build upon the solid foundation that already exists at ASU and ramp up our commitment to the next level.”

Moore said each of the 22 federally recognized tribal governments in the state of Arizona have a significant role to play in determining the future of this state when it comes to economic vitality, tourism and critical natural-resource management, such as water, land, timber, wildlife and mining. Preparing the next generation of leaders, engineers, educators, artisans, healers, wisdom keepers and caretakers of these precious limited resources is a role that ASU has a duty to support, Moore believes.

"Assuming fundamental responsibility for the economic, social, cultural and overall health of the communities it serves is straight out the university’s charter,” Moore said.

Moore put that into practice in his former role, said Terry Rambler, chairman of the San Carlos Apache Tribe. Rambler said a few years ago he approached President Crow to start their own tribal college and obtain accreditation. He put Moore on it, and it got done, according to Rambler.

“Our tribe partnered with the Tohono O’odham Nation’s tribal college to use their accreditation. San Carlos Apache College is now in its fifth year of existence and has recently applied for accreditation,” Rambler said. “Every step of the way, from meeting with Tohono O’odham Community College to helping educate our college board members to today, Jacob has been there with us. He is helping us create our own tribal college, which will become a game changer for our people. Our college will help us strengthen our self-determination and sovereignty. I thank Jacob and President Crow for believing in us and education.”

Moore also believes in strengthening the Indigenous community through his volunteer efforts. He serves on the Phoenix Indian Center fundraising executive leadership committee and last year co-chaired the 75th annual Silver and Turquoise Gala Ball, the center’s annual fundraiser. Because of Moore’s participation, the center raised $500,000, according to Jolyana Begay-Kroupa, the center’s chief excutive officer.

“It was important for me to ask a local leader to help co-chair the event,” said Begay-Kroupa, who also teaches Navajo language courses as ASU. “I asked Jacob, thinking he was probably going to say no because he’s so busy, but he was happy to do it. It was my first year as CEO and he helped guide me through the process, suggesting we invite Valley leaders and corporate sponsor executives to our event. As a result, we had a record-breaking year.”

Begay-Kroupa said Moore is a “quiet mentor” who sees the need for more Indigenous leaders and supports their needs.

“Jacob helps pave the way for these leaders and their initiatives to fulfill these important roles in the community and our urban Native people here locally,” Begay-Kroupa said.

Maria Dadgar, who has known Moore since 2000, sees him as a master weaver and troubleshooter who has one goal in mind: to help everyone reach their goals.

“Jacob seamlessly works through political, cultural, business and academic circles to create innovative ways for us all to work together to achieve overarching goals,” said Dadgar, executive director of the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona. “He is very effective at building community and tireless in his service to others. Every community needs a leader like Jacob Moore.”

Moore’s troubleshooting skills comes from a variety of work and scholarly experiences. He currently serves on the board of directors for Arizona Community Foundation, ASU Morrison Institute, WestEd, Arizona Minority Education Policy Analysis Center, Xico and Tohono O’odham Gaming Enterprise.

He is also a senior global futures scholar with the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory and a health solutions ambassador with ASU’s College of Health Solutions.  

Moore first started at ASU in 2007 assisting Ivan Makil, former president of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, in launching a two-day training program called American Indian Newly Elected Orientation. The program evolved into the Tribal Government Leadership Forum and continued for seven years.  

In 2014, Moore was tasked with developing “The State of Indian Country in Arizona” report, produced for the ASU Office of Public Affairs. The report profiled the role of faculty across the university that were engaged in research and policy in Indian Country and identified opportunities for focused programs in the coming years.

The university responded to the call for greater engagement in the report, according to Moore. In May 2020, ASU reached a major milestone when it enrolled approximately 3,500 American Indian students. That same year, it graduated 679 Indigenous students, another breakthrough achievement. 

A year later the university reached another milestone: ASU now employs approximately 60 Indigenous scholars — one of the largest cohorts assembled at any major university in the United States.

These world-class scholars have won Pulitzers, fellowships, MacArthur “genius” awards and National Institutes of Health grants, and have either been inducted into major academies or had other significant awards bestowed upon them. They teach subjects that cover a wide spectrum of academia, including sustainability, education, engineering, dramatic arts, architecture, liberal arts, social work, science, law and health care.

Recruiting, guiding and inspiring these academic leaders takes a special person with people skills and know-how, said Amanda R. Tachine, an author and assistant professor with ASU's Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College.

“Jacob is a wise leader and exudes wisdom,” Tachine said. “Being alongside him and seeing the way he includes everyone in conversation is a phenomenal gift. We’re lucky to have him.”

Moore said his new job recognizes tribal nations and communities as a key stakeholder in the university and comes with the responsibility of ensuring that current and future Indigenous students are provided every opportunity for success in higher education.

“I’m honored to be appointed to the role of vice president and special advisor to the president on tribal relations,” Moore said. “I remember well the many Native leaders, alumni, scholars, mentors and peers that continuously pushed this institution to respond to the needs of tribal nations, communities, faculty and students. Having the opportunity to carry out just a small portion of their collective hopes, dreams and expectations is humbling.”

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