Meet Dr. Nakeia Daniels named first Black woman to lead the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs

Dollita Okine January 22, 2024
Daniels will be the first Black person to head the agency, pending Senate confirmation. Photo Courtesy of the governor’s office

Governor Tina Kotek has named Dr. Nakeia Council Daniels to lead the Oregon Department of Veterans‘ Affairs (ODVA), having previously served as deputy director and interim director since October.

The Ashland Chronicle reported that Daniels will be the first Black person to head the agency, pending Senate confirmation. She will also be the second woman after Kelly Fitzpatrick, who served as director for five years, from September 2018 to September last year.

Sharing her excitement and eagerness for the position in a statement from the State of Oregon, Daniels said, “I am honored and deeply committed to serve Oregon’s veterans, our true American heroes. They deserve the utmost quality in services and benefits tailored to their unique needs. I am grateful and humbled for the opportunity to lead the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs, and I pledge to carry out this important work with diligence, dedication, and duty.”

The Statesman Journal noted that Daniels discussed the extensive military history of her family at the Veterans Day event held in Salem last year. Her great-grandfather and grandfather were drafted and served during World Wars I and II. Her grandfather worked as a cook, which was the only job open to Black men, she recalled. 

The 44-year-old followed in the footsteps of her elder sisters by enlisting at the age of 19. Her oldest son is currently serving in the Army. She spent eight years in the Finance Administration of the United States Army before joining the Maryland Transportation Administration, formerly known as the Maryland State Highway Administration. 

Daniels then moved to Oregon and worked for the Oregon Department of Energy in 2015. Not long after, she was hired by the administration of former governor Kate Brown, where she held several positions, including deputy director of the Oregon Youth Authority, director of equity and racial justice, and veterans affairs advisor.

Governor Kotek said of the trailblazer, “Dr. Daniels is a talented, dedicated public servant who will bring strong leadership to the director’s office. Her experience in the U.S. Army and multiple executive branch positions equip her well to serve Oregon’s veterans with the persistence and compassion the role demands.”

Daniels has a doctorate and master’s degree in business administration and a bachelor’s degree in organizational management.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: January 22, 2024


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