Tribal Council Members

CHAIRMAN

Rodney A. Butler is the Chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation since January, 2010. Chairman Butler also serves as Interim CEO for Foxwoods Resort Casino. Mr. Butler’s service on Tribal Council began in 2004, 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.

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, as well as the Phase VII housing development on the Reservation and the establishment of the Mashantucket (Western) Pequot Tribe Endowment Trust. He was also a participant in Harvard Business School’s program: "Leading People and Investing to Build Sustainable Communities". As Chairman, Butler’s focus is to ensure long-term stability for the Tribe’s government and business enterprises.

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 Award 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 chairs the board of directors for the United Way of Southeastern Connecticut, serves on the board of trustees for Roger Williams University and is a member of the board of directors for the Mystic Aquarium.

VICE CHAIRWOMAN

Crystal M. Whipple is the Vice Chairwoman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council and is serving her third non-consecutive term of office. Vice Chairwoman Whipple chairs the Tribe’s Education and Administrative Support Committees. During her previous terms on Tribal Council (2010 - 2015), Mrs. Whipple served two years as the Tribe’s Vice-Chairwoman and chaired the Administrative Support and Historical & Cultural Preservation Committees. She also served as a member of the Board of Directors for United South and Eastern Tribes (USET).

Throughout her twenty-eight 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. Mrs. Whipple had 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, as well as serving on the Board of Managers for Foxwoods Massachusetts, LLC.

Mrs. Whipple earned 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 serves as vice chair for the Board of Directors of "Community Speaks Out"; a southeastern Connecticut-based agency which advocates for education and assistance in combatting opioid addiction. In her free time, Mrs. Whipple enjoys quality time with her family, attending powwows, and working with tribal youth.

SECRETARY

Matthew Pearson is the Secretary of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council. Secretary Pearson chairs the Tribe’s Health & Human Services and Natural Resources Protection Committees. He also chairs the Tribe’s Good Medicine Project Advisory Board, which proactively addresses suicide and substance abuse issues. 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.

Prior to his election, 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, Mr. Pearson serves as secretary of the Board of Directors for the Eastern Area Health Education Center. In his rare free time, Matthew 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 first term of office since January 2017. Treasurer Reels chairs the Tribe’s Finance and Public Safety Committees, and had 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, where he achieved multiple gaming certifications.

As a volunteer for the Mashantucket Pequot Mentoring Program, Treasurer Reels spends time helping, motivating and encouraging Tribal Youth to develop their assets, talents and capacity to become the future leaders of the Nation. He is also an accomplished athlete; excelling in basketball which he plays on a weekly basis. As 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, spiritual and biblical studies.

A lifelong resident of Mashantucket, Treasurer Reels firmly believes that the true power of the community 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 serving his sixth non-consecutive term of office; having previously served as both a Tribal Councilor (1989-1992, 2003-2008), and as Vice Chairman (2009-2011, 2015-2017). Councilor Sebastian chairs the Tribe’s Economic Development and Judicial Committees, and had 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 Associate’s Degree in Business Management with a concentration in Tribal Government from the University of New Haven.

As Chairman of the Economic Development Committee, Councilor Sebastian was instrumental in the development of the Pequot Outpost Energy Center as well as the Dunkin Donuts franchise at Foxwoods, which is owned and operated by Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Members. He also spearheaded a home ownership program for the Tribe’s Phase VII housing development on the reservation in connection with Fannie Mae Corporation, and co-founded and co-chairs the Tribe’s annual Drive for Diabetes Charity Golf Tournament alongside Chairman Butler.

Prior to Tribal Council, Mr. Sebastian’s community contributions and employment included the positions of Gaming Inspector, Security Director, and Tribal Police Officer, along with serving as Vice Chairman of the Athletic Commission. He also served as executive staff to a former Tribal Councilor and Tribal Council Chairman.

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, he has organized a Summer Reading Program for tribal youth with the Education Department. Currently through a grant from Drive for Diabetes, Councilor Sebastian supports the Tribal Health Services Department’s "New U" Challenge program to promote healthy lifestyles. He also continues to sponsor a healthy meals program for the Tribal Membership which includes healthy luncheons for the Elders Council.

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 Spirits; 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 publicly displayed at Foxwoods Resort Casino and the Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center.

Latoya Cluff is a Member of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council, serving her first term of office as of 2018. Councilor Cluff chairs the Tribe’s Community Planning and Housing Committees. A Magna Cum Laude graduate of the University of New Haven, Councilor 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.

Councilor Cluff brings 15 years of tribal government, business, and management experience to the Tribal Council having managed two Tribal Council offices and served 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.

Councilor Cluff’s volunteer service began with serving on the Mashantucket Pequot Youth Council during her teen years. She later served as a Member of 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 the opening ceremonies of the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.

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