The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights today announced that a new Commissioner, Elsie Meeks, had been appointed to the Commission. Ms. Meeks is an enrolled member of the Oglala-Lakota Sioux Tribe from Interior, South Dakota, and is the first Native American to serve on the Commission. "We are delighted with the appointment of Ms. Meeks, and look forward to working with her in the years to come," said Commission Chairperson Mary Frances Berry.
Ms. Meeks brings a wide range of personal and professional experience to her new post. A successful small business owner, she works as the executive director of the Lakota Fund to make small loans available to individuals starting their own businesses. In 1994, she received the "Minority Small Business Advocate of the Year" award from the U.S. Small Business Administration, and in 1998, was nominated as the Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor of South Dakota.
Ms. Meeks was selected for the Commission by U.S. Senator Tom Daschle, (D- S.D.) Daschle observed that Ms. Meeks' experience starting her own business and knowing first-hand the impact of discrimination in commercial lending would give her important insights that will be very helpful to the Commission: "She has seen how jobs can be created, and lives and communities transformed, when people are given the resources and opportunity to invest in their dreams."