AMERIND Risk: Native Led (by CEO Derek Valdo) and Native Owned

Derek Valdo is Native Business Top 30 CEO.

Since 2012, Derek Valdo (Acoma Pueblo) has been CEO of AMERIND Risk, the nation’s only insurance company that is 100 percent Tribally owned with 100 percent Tribal clients. Under his leadership, AMERIND Risk has almost doubled in annual revenue while the company’s Tribes, their people and their businesses have seen more than $4 million annually in savings on the cost of insurance.

“This has a double effect of growing a Tribally owned business and growing the financial strength of the Tribe,” he tells Native Business Magazine. “Tribes purchase over 70 percent of their insurance from the commercial marketplace and we set realistic goals to gain market share and improve products and services while strengthening our financial strength so Tribes can be assured we will be there to take care of them.”

Valdo says he starts his morning with an early workout to get his body and mind jumpstarted. From there, a typical day on the job includes phone calls, walk-in meetings, reviewing critical documents, a walk around the office, a solid lunch, and some visioning for the future. 

With 54 employees, Valdo says that proper workforce management is important. 

“Managing a workforce requires constant attention to your work culture, future plans, and critical operational systems to realize the full efforts of dynamic workforce. Checking in with each individual helps them feel like a valuable member of the team.”

Outside of AMERIND Risk, Valdo participates on several Boards of Directors, including the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority, Native American Rights Fund, The Notah Begay III (NB3) Foundation, First Nations Oweesta Corporation, United Way of Central New Mexico, The University of New Mexico Anderson School of Management Foundation, and the National Indian Child Welfare Association Board of Trustees. 

Finally, what tool can’t Valdo live without? He says it’s his “mighty cell phone.”

“Seventy percent of my work can be completed on my cell phone from wherever I am with good cell service or Wi-Fi,” he says. 

Derek Valdo was named a Top 30 CEO in Indian Country by Native Business Magazine. His profile originally appeared in our Leadership issue.