Tribal Government & News
Veronica Montano takes helm at Member Services
By Danielle Frost
Veronica Montano’s new job as the Tribe’s Member Services Department manager may seem very different than her former position as Cultural Collections coordinator, but she says the two are related on several levels.
“It’s all history and research,” she says. “We did a lot of taking care of records at Culture, and so a lot of the information I learned down there was helpful in this position, to have that family and Tribal history. … I was responsible for taking care of and preserving the Tribe’s history.”
Montano, a 32-year-old Tribal member and longtime employee, was named to the position in August after serving as interim director for five months.
“I felt like it was time to move on (from Culture) and for someone else to step into my job and put their touch on it,” she says.
Montano’s new position as Member Services manager isn’t an easy one to step into given the division that enrollment issues have caused over the years. However, she’s not one to back down from a challenge.
During her eight-year tenure in Collections, Montano worked on high-profile projects, such as the transfer and return of the Molalla Kate objects from Fort Vancouver, which was a two-year process.
She also assisted with securing a long-term loan of the Summers Collection items from the British Museum. The 16 items are now included in an exhibit called “Rise of the Collectors” at the Chachalu Tribal Museum and features artifacts collected at Grand Ronde shortly after the Reservation was established in the 1850s.
Montano is descended from the Holmes family. Her mother, Tammy Chavez, works in the Tribe’s Finance Department. Her grandmother is Betty Dick and great-grandmother is Arlene Holmes.
She and husband Jose have been married for 11 years and are raising six children ages 5 to 16. They live in Willamina and enjoy attending their children’s various sporting and school events.
Montano grew up in McMinnville and graduated from Sheridan High School. She holds two associate degrees from Chemeketa Community College and a bachelor’s degree in business and social sciences from Western Oregon University.
With the Member Services Department currently short two employees, Montano has her hands full doing three jobs.
“Right now, I do all of it,” she says. “I handle the Elders pensions, Social Security and disability stuff that comes through as well as enrollment.”
Tribal Council Chief of Staff Stacia Hernandez said Montano is a great addition to Member Services.
“Having come from our Cultural Resources Department, she has a deep understanding of community and knows our Tribal families,” Hernandez says. “There is no doubt in my mind that she will serve our members to the best of her ability and I look forward to working with her in her new capacity as Member Services Program manager.”
Montano says the most challenging part of her job so far has been having to learn how to do things very quickly and establishing new relationships with the membership.
“Being able to help people is the most rewarding part of this job,” she says. “In Culture, I helped people stay connected to their history, and part of that was summer youth coming in and discovering things about their family history they didn’t know, which was very neat. But now it is more just helping people in general, sometimes they just need an ear to listen.”
Montano’s short-term goals include getting the department fully staffed and becoming more efficient at providing services. A long-term goal is getting Tribal members’ minds more at ease regarding enrollment issues.