The Cowlitz Indian Tribe of Washington has appointed the first non-elected chief operating officer in its history. Kent Caputo has more than 30 years of experience in executive and legal positions, and is a former COO of the Kalispel Tribal Economic Authority.
According to the Battle Ground, Washington Reflector, Caputo was introduced to tribal members at a bi-annual meeting in November. He has experience working with the tribe and was appointed because of the “significant growth and development” the tribe has experienced, in part as a result of its ilani resort, which opened nearly five years ago.
Caputo has more than 30 years of experience in executive and legal positions. He is a former COO of the Kalispel Tribal Economic Authority and most recently served as general counsel and chief commercial officer for Northwest Innovation Works.
Caputo said he has a history of working with the Cowlitz Indian Tribe in prior phases of his career. Much of his work as an attorney involved tribes. He also helped the Cowlitz Tribe as they sought federal recognition and a reservation. “The tribe has gone through immense change just in the last few years,” he said. The Cowlitz Tribe won federal recognition in 2000.
The non-tribal member called the newly created COO position a “unique and personally rewarding opportunity” for him.
“I do think these leaders with Cowlitz really have a very good sense of how to diversify in that marketplace, how to look at other business opportunities,” Caputo said. “This not only serves, I think, the purpose of really helping this tribe that I’ve come to love … but also in a community that can really use that economic growth.”