Cheryl Demmert Fairbanks

Cheryl Demmert Fairbanks (Tlingit-Tsimshian) is a Senior Policy Advisor for the Native American Budget and Policy Institute, which conducts research, budget and policy analysis, social justice advocacy, and litigation to empower Native American communities to create self-determined and systematic change that will improve their health, education, and economic well-being. Ms. Fairbanks has had a long career in Indian law as an attorney and tribal court of appeals justice. 

Formerly a Partner at Cuddy McCarthy LLP, she had a general practice in Indian law, including tribal-state relations, personnel, tribal courts, peacemaking and family conferencing, mediation, family, school, education, and indigenous law. She recently was in Oregon serving as the Walter R. Echo-Hawk Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law at Lewis and Clark and was a visiting Professor of Law at the University of New Mexico’s Southwest Indian Law Clinic. Ms. Fairbanks was also a partner with the law firm of Roth, VanAmberg, Rogers, Ortiz, Fairbanks & Yepa, LLP, where she specialized in Indian law. She worked as a senior policy analyst with the New Mexico Office of Indian Affairs in the area of state-tribal relations. There, she was instrumental in establishing the Indian Child Welfare Desk, New Mexico Office of Indian Tourism, the University of New Mexico Indian Law Clinic, and the passage of the New Mexico Indian Arts and Crafts Act.

Prior to her law career, she served as a teacher for the Albuquerque Public Schools, Zia Day School, and Administrator for Acomita Day School and the Albuquerque/Santa Fe Indian Schools. Ms. Fairbank was born in Ketchikan, Alaska. 

BA from Fort Lewis College 

J.D. from University of New Mexico School of Law

Christy Chapman

Christy Chapman (Zuni Pueblo) joined the Native American Budget and Policy Institute in May 2019 to help empower Native communities to address education, health and economic sovereignty, and child welfare. As part of her work, Ms. Chapman employs her skills as a Peacemaker, using indigenous knowledge in dispute resolution to address issues as an alternative to the adversarial court process. 

Prior to joining NABPI, she worked both as a nurse in her Pueblo and clerked for a trial attorney. She also worked at Law Access New Mexico, assisting clients with landlord/tenant issues, and with the UNM Indigenous Design and Planning Institute (iDPi) to draft the Economic Development in Indian Country/Community Regional Planning report for Zuni MainStreet, which encourages revitalization of the Zuni local economy while continuing to preserve its unique traditional elements.

J.D. from University of New Mexico School of Law 

BS from the University of New Mexico College of Nursing

Daniel Yohalem

Mr. Yohalem has been an attorney for over 45 years, the last 32 of which have been in New Mexico.  He is currently in private practice, focusing on first amendment, civil rights, open government, employment, and class action cases for plaintiffs, particularly in the areas of equal pay for women, whistleblower, discrimination, and retaliation claims.

Mr. Yohalem joined the Center’s groundbreaking education litigation in 2017, serving as co-counsel on Yazzie vs. State of New Mexico since that time. He has also co-counseled other important litigation with the Center on public benefits and wage theft.

Mr. Yohalem has been awarded the William S. Dixon First Amendment Freedom Award (2006) as Lawyer of the Year by the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government, and the Cooperating Attorney of the Year (2002) by the ACLU of New Mexico. He is consistently listed in The Best Lawyers in America and Superlawyers of the Southwest.

J.D. with honors from Columbia University Law School in 1973.

B.A. from Yale University in 1970.