Our Board of Trustees

CILS is led by a dedicated board who oversees and steers our organization faithfully in its mission of service to California Tribes across the state.

Board Recruitment Open Until November 15th!

California Indian Legal Services (CILS) actively seeks individuals passionate about advocating for Native American rights to join their Board of Trustees in a volunteer position. CILS’ mission is to provide legal services in federal Indian law to income-eligible Native Americans and low-cost legal services to Tribes. CILS seeks board members who will support, guide, and lead in partnership to achieve its mission and vision.

How to Apply

Those interested in serving on the board should be able to demonstrate a genuine commitment to protecting and enhancing Indian rights. Overall, the commitment and dedication to the CILS Board of Trustees fulfilling these responsibilities will help ensure the success of CILS and its vital mission to protect and advance the rights of Native Americans.

To apply, please submit a letter of interest describing how you align with the CILS mission, vision and values, as well as a resume or curriculum vitae. Interviews will happen between November 16-30, 2023.

The deadline for submitting board service applications is November 15, 2023. Interested candidates can submit their applications by emailing info@calindian.org.  

Mark Romero

Chairman of the Board, Trustee
Chairman Romero is Chairman of the Board of Trustees for CILS and was the Tribal Chairman for the Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians for over ten years.
 He is currently a member of the National Institutes of Health Tribal Advisory Committee (TAC), a forum for meetings between elected Tribal officials (or their designated representatives) and NIH officials to exchange views, share information, and seek advice concerning intergovernmental responsibilities related to the implementation and administration of NIH programs. Chairman Romero has over 11 years of experience working in tribal government. In addition to his role as Chairman of the Board, he is also chair of the Personnel Committee, Acting Chair of the Finance Committee, Executive Committee, and Legislative Committee.

Judge Victorio Shaw

Vice Chairman of the Board, Trustee
Judge Shaw is a Hoopa Valley Tribal member, Chief Judge of the Shingle Springs Tribal Court, and Appellate Judge at Wilton Rancheria Tribal Court. In addition, he owns a legal practice allowing him to provide individualized services directly to families and individuals. Shaw is also a part-time instructor of Federal Indian Law at UC Davis and an Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) specialist for the Indian Child & Family Preservation Program in Santa Rosa, CA. Judge Shaw is the grandson of CILS’ founder David Risling and Vice Chair of the Board. As a Board of Trustee member, he serves on the Personnel, Executive Board Recruitment, and Legislative Committees and is chair of the Strategic Planning Committee.

Joe Ayala

CA State Bar Appointee
Joe Ayala is the Principal Deputy Legislative Counsel II for the Office of the Legislative Counsel and legislative advocate for the Office of the California State Attorney General. As Deputy Legislative Counsel, he manages a branch of the office that handles laws relating to criminal law, family law, juveniles, courts, gaming, public health and social services, health and care facilities, insurance and health care coverage, professions, and vocations, vehicles, and workers’ compensation. In addition, as a Board of Trustee Member for CILS, he serves on numerous committees such as the Board Recruitment, Strategic Planning, Executive, Personnel, Finance, and is the Chair of the Legislative Committee.

Judge Christine Williams

CA State Bar Appointee
Judge Williams is a Yurok Tribal member and serves as the Chief Judge of the Wilton Tribal Court. As Chief Judge, she is charged with developing and implementing the Wilton Judicial Branch according to the framework provided in the Wilton Rancheria Constitution and laws. Judge Williams has over twenty years of experience in Indian law and ten years of experience serving as a judge for various Tribes throughout California. She has spent her legal career representing Tribes in a broad spectrum of legal matters—primarily tribal court development, Indian child welfare and cultural resource protection. As a Board of Trustee member for CILS, she serves on the Audit and Personnel Committees, and is Chair of the Board Recruitment Committee.

John Hueston

CA State Bar Appointee
John Hueston is a Partner of Hueston Hennigan LLP, a trial law firm focusing on high-stakes business disputes and white-collar criminal defense. Hueston represents Fortune 500 companies and governments as lead counsel in their most challenging, high-profile cases and investigations. His work ranges from winning and defeating multibillion-dollar actions to terminating some of the nation’s most significant regulatory and criminal investigations and cases. Hueston is the President of the Board of Directors for the Social Justice Legal Foundation and Co-Chair of Sen Alex Padilla’s Central District of California Judicial Evaluation Commission. As a Board of Trustee Member, he serves on CILS’ Finance and Development Committees.

Andre Cramblit

Trustee, Northern Community
Andre Cramblit is a Karuk Tribal member and the cultural resource specialist at United Indian Health Services, a non-profit organization that provides quality healthcare to the American Indian Community. A published writer, he currently writes for the North Coast Journal and Two Rivers Tribune. As a Board of Trustee member for CILS, he serves as Chair of the Audit Committee and on the Development Committee.

Merri Lopez-Keifer

Trustee, Southern Community
Merri Lopez-Keifer is a San Luis Rey Band of Mission Indians member and the Legal and policy advisor on tribal affairs to the Attorney General, California Department of Justice, Office of Native American Affairs. She serves as liaison and addresses justice related issues for California’s Indian citizens who reside on reservations, in rancherias, and in urban communities to improve the quality of life for Indian people. As a Board of Trustee member for CILS, she serves on the Executive, Strategic Planning, and Board Recruitment Committees.

Robert Gonzalez

CA State Bar Appointee
Robert Gonzalez is an independent contractor providing a wide range of legal services to individual Members of the UAIC Tribe. He is also the founder of the Law Offices of Robert J. Gonzalez, focused on Personal Injury, Workers’ Compensation, Estate Planning/Probate, and Criminal Defense, and a business professor at American River College. In addition, as a Board of Trustee member, he serves on CILS’ Finance and Strategic Planning Committees.

Jessica Goodrow

Jessica Goodrow is a Round Valley Indian Tribal member and serves as ICWA Director for Round Valley Indian Tribes in addition to her role as Trustee on the CILS Board of Trustees.