Wendy L. Helgemo

Washington, D.C. 
whelgemo@bigfirelaw.com

TRIBAL AFFILIATION

Ho-Chunk Nation

EDUCATION

Bachelor of Arts (English), St. Olaf College (B.A. 1991)

Juris Doctor, University of Colorado Law School (J.D. 1995)

Diploma, The Blake School (1987)

BAR ADMISSIONS

Minnesota; Wisconsin; U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

PRIOR LEGAL EXPERIENCE

Director, AT&T Center for Indigenous Politics and Policy, and Associate Professor at the George Washington University (2017-2019); Senior Advisor, United States Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) (2009-2016); Director of Government Affairs, National American Indian Housing Council (2006-2009); Counsel, Ho-Chunk Nation (2000-2005); Deputy Solicitor General/Acting Solicitor General, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Indians (1996-2000); Attorney, Prairie Island Indian Community (1995-1996); Law Clerk, Native American Rights Fund (1993, 1995)

ASSOCIATIONS AND HONORS

Minnesota State Bar Association, Wisconsin State Bar Association; St. Olaf College’s Distinguished Alumni Award 2018, St. Olaf College Commencement Speaker 2019

PRACTICE AREAS

Ms. Helgemo has dedicated her career to serving American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians in the public, non-profit and tribal sectors and protecting tribal sovereignty. She has more than 20 years of experience in federal Indian law and policy and working with tribal governments.

Ms. Helgemo is primarily involved in legislative advocacy. As senior advisor on Indian Affairs to United States Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (NV), Ms. Helgemo helped to secure passage of critical tribal provisions in the Violence Against Women Act of 2013 and legislation conveying more than 71,000 acres of much needed land to six Indian tribes in Nevada. Ms. Helgemo also served as director of governmental affairs at the National American Indian Housing Council, a national non-profit organization representing 460 tribal housing entities. She led efforts to pass the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Reauthorization Act of 2008 and in ensuring that tribal housing programs were included and funded in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Ms. Helgemo has also served as in-house counsel for several federally recognized tribes and the National Indian Gaming Commission.