Search for a New Executive Director


The Indian Law Resource Center Launches Search for a New Executive Director

             Wednesday, July 10 --The Indian Law Resource Center Board of Directors announced today that they have begun a search for a new executive director. Board Chairwoman Melanie Benjamin said Robert “Tim” Coulter, the Center’s founder and long-time executive director, has asked the board to find a new executive director so that a smooth transition is assured. Benjamin stated, “The Center’s mission and fundamental values will remain unchanged. We will be looking for candidates who have the leadership skills to build on the Center’s groundbreaking human rights work and also have the vision to create and implement new strategies for continuing to build indigenous rights.”

            Coulter, a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, established the non-profit law and advocacy organization in 1978 to provide free legal assistance to Indian and other Native nations and peoples to help them protect their lands and cultures and to fight systemic injustice in the legal system.    

            For more than 46 years, the Center has helped shape modern indigenous rights advocacy. The Center is widely recognized for its role in helping Indian and Alaska Native nations and other indigenous communities negotiate and win the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The organization led some of the first successful legal efforts linking indigenous human rights with environmental protection, including winning several landmark rulings by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights protecting indigenous land rights and other rights of self-determination and sovereignty. These advances in international law are being used and put into practice in the Americas and in countries around the world.

            “The Center is responsible for some of the most critical and important legal work of our time on behalf of tribes and other indigenous peoples,” said Coulter. “It’s a thrilling time to be a part of this historic work. Tribes and Native women’s organizations are doing great things to change the terrible injustices in our law, and we are helping and supporting those efforts.”  

            In October 2022, the Center received $20 million over eight years for the Center’s Indigenous Lands Initiative to expand and strengthen indigenous land ownership rights in Mexico and Central and South America. The Center is on the pathway to providing assistance to as many as 100 indigenous communities to obtain legal titles to their communal lands. The Center is working to develop the rule of law in countries where political corruption and corporate greed have literally led to the killing of indigenous leaders and large-scale invasions of their lands.

            “This is an exciting time for a fresh new leader to direct the Center’s work for Indian rights,” said Coulter. “Helping Indian leaders contribute to and influence the national and international conversations on self-determination, the roles of indigenous governments and communities in the United States and in the Americas, racial justice, climate change, development finance, violence against Native women and public safety – and more – is vitally important right now.” 

            The Center’s Board of Directors has spent the past several months planning and preparing for the transition and will begin the search process immediately. Coulter will continue to serve as executive director until a successor is in place. He will be available, as needed, to support the transition and our new leader.

            “The Board of Directors is grateful for Tim’s vision and leadership,” said Melanie Benjamin. “We are looking for someone to build on Tim’s legacy – to be a national and international leader and an aggressive advocate for change and for greater respect and justice for indigenous peoples.”

            The position description is available at