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Friday Fellow of the Month: Cory Blankenship

Wednesday, January 3, 2018   (0 Comments)
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Each month a new Friday Fellow from the 2017-2019 class will be featured. This is the fourth feature in the series. The first is available here; the second is available here; the third is available here. The full class announcement is available at this link.

Cory Blankenship is an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Growing up on the Cherokee Indian Reservation (Qualla Boundary) in Western North Carolina, Cory developed a passion from a young age of service to his tribe and community. The unique history, culture and identity of the Cherokee People is at the forefront of his vision for the future of his tribe.



Cory graduated from Cherokee High School in 2003. He earned a full academic scholarship to North Carolina State University under the banner of the Park Scholarship, the university’s highest academic honor, where he earned a Bachelors Degree in Political Science. Cory is also a third generation NC State Alumni continuing a family legacy started by his grandfather in 1955. He earned a Masters Degree in Public Affairs and Masters of Jurisprudence Degree in Indian Law from Western Carolina University and the University of Tulsa College of Law respectively.

Cory started his professional career at the non-profit Cherokee Historical Association operating under the mission of perpetuating and preserving the history and culture of the Cherokee People. In 2010, Cory began work for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians tribal government in the Office of Budget & Finance where he held the titles of Senior Grants Compliance Officer, Tribal Treasurer, and Director of Finance & Management. In 2015, Cory formed a small independent consulting operation to assist tribes across the country in strategic planning, organizational development, leadership development and tribal policy. He also worked for a financial services consulting firm serving tribal clients throughout the United States with their retirement plan services needs.

Cory was recently appointed to serve as the Secretary of Treasury for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians by Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed. There he oversees the financial operations of the tribal government which includes nearly 200 program budgets, an annual budget of over $300M, and an investment portfolio that topped $1B this calendar year. Cory also serves on a number of boards including: Cherokee Boys Club (President), Cherokee Historical Association (Treasurer), Balsam West FiberNet, WNC Non-Profit Pathways Advisory Board, and the Purple Warrior Foundation.

Cory resides in the Big Cove Community of the Cherokee Indian Reservation, North Carolina, with his family.


Wildacres Leadership Initiative is connected with Wildacres Retreat, Little Switzerland, NC.