Chris Deschene is a national leader well respected by his peers, tribal leaders, business leaders and Indian Country. As a member of the Navajo Nation, Mr. Deschene military, public, and legal career and record stem from his traditional values of service and defense for the benefit of the greater community. His talents, skills, and experiences as a Federal Indian law attorney, mechanical engineer, state official, and former senior official within the Obama Administration, help tribes and their partners protect their resources, defend their communities, and advance their missions as they work to strengthen their sovereignty.
In early 2017, Mr. Deschene completed a two-year distinguished term as the Director of the Office of Indian Energy in the U.S. Department of Energy. As Director, he oversaw the development and deployment of key initiatives to spur investment, deployment and management of Indian Country energy projects in the Lower 48 states and Alaska. Renowned for his vision, decisiveness and communicative abilities, Mr. Deschene has built successful teams and initiatives to change the tribal energy industry and framework nationally for tribal communities and partners seeking to work with tribes.
Prior to his service in government, he spent ten years as a partner with the Law Offices of Schaff & Clark Deschene, LLC, focusing largely on business and energy development on tribal, state, and federal lands. He has extensive knowledge of power generation, transmission, distribution, renewable energy development, oil and gas development, utility formation, water, natural resource, energy and environmental policy development, tribal and federal administrative and regulatory permitting, energy contracting and negotiations. He has served as general counsel and advisor to tribes, tribal energy partnerships and non-Indian energy and business entities in the Southwest, Northwest, Great Plains, and Eastern United States including Washington D.C.
As a former member of the Arizona House of Representatives, Mr. Deschene has extensive government and legislative experience to help tribes maximize their government affairs and relationships. A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering, he served honorably in the U.S. Marine Corps, completing two tours in the Persian Gulf, first in the infantry and then with the reconnaissance units. He retired with the rank of Major, U.S.M.C.R.
Mr. Deschene earned both a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and a law degree from Arizona State University.