Tribal Council Members

CHAIRMAN

Rodney A. Butler is the Chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation since January 2010. Mr. Butler's service on Tribal Council began in 2004 and one year later, in 2005, he was appointed Tribal Council Treasurer, a position he held through 2009. During his tenure, Mr. Butler chaired the Tribe's Finance, Housing, and Judicial Committees, the MPTN Utility Authority, and served as an Interim CEO for Foxwoods Resort Casino.

Mr. Butler earned his bachelor's degree in finance from the University of Connecticut where he played defensive back for the UCONN Huskies' football team. Prior to Tribal Council, Butler worked in the finance department at Foxwoods Resort Casino. He later became Chairman of the Tribal Business Advisory Board, an executive body responsible for overseeing the Tribe's non-gaming businesses and commercial properties. Butler was actively involved in resort expansions at Foxwoods, the Phase VII housing development on the Reservation, the establishment of the Mashantucket (Western) Pequot Tribe Endowment Trust, and the legalization of Sports Betting and iGaming in the state of Connecticut. He was also a participant in Harvard Business School's program, "Leading People and Investing to Build Sustainable Communities" and is a regular speaker on national panels related to Native American issues.

Chairman Butler is the 2019 recipient of the Citizen of the Year award from the Eastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce, and in 2018 he received the St. Edmund's Medal of Honor from the Enders Island Retreat Center. In 2017, Chairman Butler was appointed "Tribal Leader of the Year" by the Native American Finance Officers Association. He presently serves as co-chairman of the board of directors for MMCT LLC and is a board member for Foxwoods El San Juan Casino. He also serves on the board of trustees for Roger Williams University, is a member of the board of directors for the Mystic Aquarium, and previously chaired the board of directors for the United Way of Southeastern Connecticut.

As Chairman, Butler's primary focus is to ensure long-term stability for the Tribe's citizens, government, and business enterprises.

VICE CHAIRWOMAN

Latoya Cluff is the Vice Chairwoman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council, serving her second term of office as of 2021. Vice Chairwoman Cluff chairs the Tribe's Community Planning and Housing Committees. A Magna Cum Laude graduate of the University of New Haven, Vice Chairwoman Cluff holds a master's degree in labor relations with a concentration in human resources management, and a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Johnson and Wales University.

Throughout a career spanning more than 15 years in tribal government, business and management, Mrs. Cluff's past experience includes managing two Tribal Council offices and serving in various roles within the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Government and Gaming Commission, as well as at Foxwoods Resort Casino, Big Night Entertainment Group, and Fairview Healthcare. Her volunteer service included the Mashantucket Pequot Youth Council as well as the Tribe's Administrative Support, Education, and Parks and Recreation Committees. During the 1995 Indigenous Games, Mrs. Cluff represented the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Youth Athletics in basketball. She was also an active member of the Tribe's Fox Dance Troupe, having proudly represented Mashantucket with a cultural performance at Cultural Exchange in Europe in 1995 and the opening ceremonies of the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.

Vice Chairwoman Cluff resides in Mashantucket with her husband, Minter and two sons. She is deeply committed to advancing the education, employment, and health and wellbeing of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, and enjoys serving her community.

SECRETARY

Matthew Pearson is the Secretary of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council, serving his second term of office as of 2021. Secretary Pearson chairs the Tribe's Health & Human Services and Natural Resources Protection Committees. In addition, he serves on 10 of the Tribe's official boards and teams, including his role as an advisor to the Youth Council and chair of the Tribe's Good Medicine Project Advisory Board, which proactively addresses suicide and substance abuse issues. Most recently it was announced that he would be serving on the board for Foxwoods El San Juan, the first Foxwoods casino outside of the beloved flagship casino in Mashantucket. Secretary Pearson holds a bachelor's degree in media and communications from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania, as well as a certificate in publishing from the University of Denver's Publishing Institute.

During his Tribal Council tenure, Secretary Pearson expanded clinic services to cover Tribal spouses and spearheaded the construction of a new tribal health facility. His continuous efforts to improve two-way communication between the Tribal Council and Tribal Members began with digitally recording Tribal Council meetings and initializing an improved internal Pequot-only website, and evolved to include transitioning Tribal Council and membership meetings to zoom and doubling the annual amount of time spent with Tribal Members through the addition of Virtual Town Hall Meetings. Ever dedicated to the causes of mental health support and combating substance abuse, Secretary Pearson played an active role on the Tribe's Opioid Use Taskforce. This has resulted in a lawsuit against "Big Pharma" for opioid-related damages, grant-funded programming and resources for the Tribe, a series of community mental health trainings, and an expansion of healing time for Tribal Members. Among his top key policy initiatives, Secretary Pearson counts the MPTN Clean Air Program, securing a paid lunch break for government employees, and the successful Mashantucket Drive-In, which opened during the pandemic and is returning for a second season in spring 2021, among his top victories.

Prior to serving on Tribal Council, Mr. Pearson served as director of the Tribe's High Five Project, a federal grant funded initiative designed to improve the physical, social, emotional, and cultural well-being of tribal adolescents. He also served as a board member for the Mashantucket Business Development Company, LLC.

Beyond his tribal obligations, Matthew volunteers as secretary of the board of directors for the Health Education Center. In his rare free time, he enjoys cooking, reading mystery novels, and spoiling his canine comrade, Bartlet.

TREASURER

Merrill "Marvin" Reels is the Treasurer of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council, serving his second term of office since January 2017. He was re-appointed the role of Tribal Council Treasurer on January 2, 2020. Treasurer Reels chairs the Tribe's Finance and Public Safety Committees, and previously chaired the Judicial Committee. Treasurer Reels graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia—widely regarded as the nation's foremost historic private minority liberal arts college. He is also a graduate of the Leadership Education Advancement Program (LEAP) at Foxwoods Resort Casino.

Prior to his election to the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council, he was employed as a table games dealer at Foxwoods. During his four-year tenure at Foxwoods, he achieved multiple gaming certifications, and gained a broad view of the Enterprise table games operation.

Mr. Reels is an accomplished athlete, excelling in basketball and football which he plays often. Using sports as a platform, he continues to help motivate and encourage Tribal Youth to help develop their skills, talents, and capacity to become future leaders. A self-starter, Mr. Reels is committed to self-awareness, self-improvement and self-education which he accomplishes through researching law, health and fitness, civics, and spiritual and biblical studies.

A lifelong resident of Mashantucket, Treasurer Reels firmly believes that the true power of this Nation belongs to the people, and his authority to govern comes directly from the people who elected him. As such, he is an absolute advocate for his people first and foremost, and serves at their will and consent.

TRIBAL COUNCILORS

Richard E. Sebastian is a Member of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council and is currently serving his sixth non-consecutive term of office; having previously served as both a Tribal Councilor (1989-1992, 2003-2008, 2015, 2019), and as Vice Chairman (2009-2011, 2016-2017). Today, Councilor Sebastian chairs the Tribe's Economic Development and Judicial Committees, and previously chaired the Tribe's Public Safety, Parks and Recreation, Community Planning and Administrative Support Committees. He holds a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and an associate's degree in business management with a concentration in tribal government from the University of New Haven.

In an effort to gain federal government contracts and commercial business for the Tribe, Councilor Sebastian was instrumental in obtaining a Small Business Administration 8-A certification for the Tribe. This led to the formation of Command Holdings, a Section 17 corporation of which he now serves on the board of directors. As Chairman of the Economic Development Committee, Councilor Sebastian helped to spearhead the development of the Pequot Outpost Energy Center. He sponsored an initiative resulting in a Dunkin Donuts franchise at Foxwoods, which is owned and operated by members of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. In addition, in connection with Fannie Mae Corporation, Councilor Sebastian spearheaded a home ownership program for the Tribe's Phase VII housing development on the Reservation.

Councilor Sebastian also co-founded and co-chairs, alongside Chairman Butler, the Tribe's annual Drive for Diabetes (D4D) Charity Golf Tournament, which began in 2006. Through his work with D4D, he has supported the Tribe's "New U Challenge" program in collaboration with the Tribe's Health and Human Services Committee and Tribal Health Services department to promote fitness and healthy lifestyles. Also, through his work with D4D, he supported the "Hot Healthy Meals" program, bringing nutritious meals to the Community.

Councilor Sebastian remains committed to developing Tribal Members for leadership positions within the Tribe's enterprises and equipping them with self-sufficiency and wealth management tools through apprenticeships and programs designed to enhance investment, professional, technical trade and entrepreneurial skills. Likewise, Councilor Sebastian continues to find new and energizing programs to engage his community. In past years, with the Education Department, he organized a summer reading program for tribal youth.

Prior to Tribal Council service, Mr. Sebastian's community contributions and employment included various positions in Entertainment, Gaming Commission, Security and Tribal Police. He also served as Vice Chairman of the Athletic Commission and was an executive staff member to a former Tribal Councilor and Tribal Council Chairman.

Crystal M. Whipple is a Member of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council and is serving her fourth non-consecutive term of office. Councilor Whipple chairs the Tribe's Education and Administrative Support Committees, and in 2019 was appointed by Governor Ned Lamont to the Connecticut Commission on Community Service. During her tenure on Tribal Council, Mrs. Whipple served three years as Vice-Chairwoman, one year as Tribal Council Secretary, and chaired the Administrative Support and Historical and Cultural Preservation Committees.

Throughout her thirty-year career in tribal government, Mrs. Whipple served as Chair and Vice Chair of the Tribe's Business Advisory Board—an executive body that oversaw the Tribe's non-gaming enterprises and commercial properties. She also worked at Pequot Pharmaceutical Network and served as executive staff to the Tribal Manager, Chief of Staff, and Tribal Council. Her volunteer service included the Tribe's Parent Advisory Board, Education Committee and Tribal Housing Authority, Child Protection Team, as well as serving on the board of managers for Foxwoods Massachusetts, LLC. She also served on the board of directors of Community Speaks Out, a Southeastern Connecticut based agency which advocates for education and assistance in combatting opioid addiction. She also served as the Powwow Committee Chair under the Tribe's Historical and Cultural Preservation Committee. Councilor Whipple currently serves as the Tribe's representative for the Diversity & Inclusion Sub-team for the Ledyard Board of Education as well as the lead for the MPTN Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice Sub-team.

Mrs. Whipple holds an associate's degree in business administration from the University of New Haven and completed a course in Co-Active Life Coaching through CTI International. Beyond her Tribal Council obligations, Mrs. Whipple enjoys quality time with her family, attending powwows, and working with tribal youth.

Daniel Menihan, Jr. is a Member of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council since 2016, serving his second term of office. Councilor Menihan chairs the Tribe's Parks and Recreation and Historical and Cultural Preservation Committees. The first of his generation to serve on Tribal Council, Councilor Menihan brings nearly a decade of community involvement and team management experience to the Council through higher education, tribal events, and career work in the areas of business management and tribal government.

Prior to Tribal Council, Mr. Menihan held the position of the Assistant Director of Bus Marketing at Foxwoods Resort Casino. A 2015 Foxwoods Spirit Award winner, Menihan played a key role in facilitating a number of cost-saving initiatives and staff training incentives, all of which enhanced the department's stellar reputation. Menihan studied business management at Mitchell College and DeVry University, and interned in Las Vegas with Friedmutter Group to expand his experience in gaming resort management and operations.

Councilor Menihan demonstrates a lifelong track record of commitment to serving his community. He began working for the Tribal Council during a summer youth employment program and was quickly hired full time at age 17 to staff various Tribal Council offices--a career he held for nine consecutive years. Mr. Menihan also served as a co-spokesperson on behalf of the Tribe's Teen/Youth Council, and was a co-founder and co-spokesperson for The Rising Spirit: a youth-based, community action group that advocated for community and government needs while strengthening relationships between the Tribe's youth and the Tribal Council.

Councilor Menihan is also a passionate advocate and teacher of traditional agricultural methods, having cultivated the gardens at the Child Development Center. In his spare time, Menihan enjoys native arts and crafts, drumming, and participating in cultural education activities. Among his artistic works are model replicas of Pequot Villages and historical scenes which have been publicly displayed at Foxwoods Resort Casino and the Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center.