The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Mary J. Pavel '88

Mary J. Pavel is a member of the Skokomish Tribe of Washington.  Mary is a 1988 graduate of Dartmouth College, where she was a member of Casque and Gauntlet, Green Key Honor Society, Palaeopitus Senior Honor Society, and Native Americans at Dartmouth.  Upon graduation from Dartmouth, Mary became the first paralegal with the law firm of Sonosky, Chambers, Sachse, Endreson & Perry, LLP, which is one of the most highly regarded federal Indian law firms in the Nation.  

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After serving as paralegal for one year, Mary entered law school at the University of Washington School of Law. Upon graduation, Mary joined Sonosky in 1992 and became a partner in January, 1999.  Mary was one of the first Indian women to be made a partner in a National Indian Law Firm. In 2013, Mary was asked to serve as Staff Director and Chief Counsel for the United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.  During her tenure, she served two Chairs: Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Senator Jon Tester (D-MT).  As Staff Director and Chief Counsel, Mary directed the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs’ agenda through the Senate.  Mary rejoined the Firm in 2015, Ms. Pavel spends most of her professional time working with congressional staff and federal agencies on federal Indian policy matters. 

Mary is former Dartmouth College Alumni Council member, and a current board member of the Native American Alumni of Dartmouth.  Mary is the Founding President of the Native American Bar Association of Washington, D.C. and a founding member of the Northwest Native American Bar Association. 

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The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences