Chris James

Chris James

President & CEO

The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (NCAIED)

Phoenix, AZ USA

You will never always make the right decision…but you have to live with the decisions you make and move ahead.


By Roadtrip Nation

Chris James


My road in life has been direct.
I was born and raised in western North Carolina and spent a lot of time working in my family’s small businesses on the Qualla Boundary for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
I earned my bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of North Carolina Wilmington.
After graduating, I moved back home and worked for my dad for a few years.
I served on various committees and really enjoyed being part of the economic development strategy for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
I had the opportunity to help develop a community development financial institution, which provided tribal loans to business owners.
After a couple of years working for the loan fund, I moved to Washington, D.C., to work for the U.S. Department of Treasury.
I spent two years working with the U.S. Department of the Treasury and then transitioned to a leadership role at the U.S. Small Business Administration.
I eventually moved to Arizona to lead the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development, a nonprofit established to help provide resources to Native American businesses.
Keep following my journey


High School
University of North Carolina Wilmington
Western Carolina University


President & CEO

I lead a nonprofit organization that provides economic development resources for Native American businesses.

Career Roadmap

My work combines:
My work combines:
Non-Profit Organizations
Helping People

Day to Day

My typical day starts early with East Coast Zoom calls. I participate in team huddles throughout the day. I also sometimes film for social media.

Recommended Education

My career is related to what I studied. I'd recommend the path I took:



The Noise I Shed

From Myself:

"They won't hire someone from Cherokee, North Carolina, to go work in Washington, DC."