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Pilar Thomas - Acting Director, Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs

Pilar Thomas (Pascua Yaqui) is the Acting Director for the DOE Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs. As the Acting Director, Ms. Thomas is responsible for developing national energy policy and programs related to Indian energy development, as well as developing and implementing policy efforts within the Energy Department and federal government to achieve Office of Indian Energy policy objectives.

Prior to joining the Department, Ms. Thomas served as the Deputy Solicitor for Indian Affairs in the U.S. Department of the Interior. Appointed as Deputy Solicitor in September 2009, Ms. Thomas was responsible for providing day to day legal advice and counsel to the Secretary, the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, and other officials of the Department on matters related to federal Indian law, tribal law, and legal issues involving Indian tribes.

Prior to her federal appointments, Ms. Thomas was Of Counsel at Lewis and Roca LLP, in the firm’s Tribal Affairs and Tribal Gaming practice groups. She concentrated her practice in Indian gaming and tribal economic development, where she assisted clients with tribal gaming regulations, gaming-related transactions, litigation, and business and energy development efforts.  She also assisted other practice groups on energy development and public finance matters related to tribes and tribal enterprises.

Ms. Thomas formerly served as Chief of Staff to Chairwoman Herminia Frias of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe. During this time she provided strategic policy advice on government operations, legal issues and the Tribe’s legislative efforts with the federal and state governments. Ms. Thomas also served as the Tribe’s interim attorney general and was responsible for providing legal advice and representation to the Chairwoman, the Tribal Council, and the Tribe’s divisions, departments and enterprises. Ms. Thomas was responsible for providing day to day legal advice on tribal, federal, and state law issues, drafting tribal ordinances, resolutions and regulations, and negotiating various forms of contracts and agreements, including intergovernmental agreements, federal government contracts, gaming contracts and other vendor contracts.

In 2002, Ms. Thomas was appointed to the position of Trial Attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice, Environment and Natural Resources Division, Indian Resources Section. Her practice included Indian treaty rights, water rights and regulatory litigation.  Ms. Thomas was also the recipient of the Department’s Service Award for her efforts in the United States v. Michigan treaty rights litigation.

Prior to her law practice, Ms. Thomas worked for fifteen years in the financial services industry for a Fortune 250 company.  She has over ten years of management experience in all aspects of corporate operations, and served as a marketing director for five years.

Ms. Thomas received her B.A. in Economics from Stanford University, and her J.D. (magna cum laude) from the University of New Mexico School of Law.