Jerry Gardner serves as TLPI's Executive Director and is an attorney with more than 35 years of experience working with American Indian/Alaska Native Nations, tribal court systems, and victims of crime in Indian country. Jerry has served as the Executive Director of the Tribal Law and Policy Institute since its founding in 1996 and oversees all TLPI projects and services. Jerry has also served as the Director of the National Child Welfare Resource Center for Tribes, Council Member of the American Bar Association (ABA) Section on Individual Rights and Responsibilities (IRR), and an ABA Tribal Courts Council member. Jerry has served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, UCLA School of Law, and Southwestern School of Law. He previously served as the Administrator for the National American Indian Court Judges Association (NAICJA). He has been an appellate court judge for the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians (North Dakota) and Poarch Creek Band (Alabama). He served as the Senior Staff Attorney with the National Indian Justice Center (NIJC) from NIJC’s establishment in 1983 until TLPI’s founding in 1996. He served as a Professional Staff Member at the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in the late 1970s. He also served in legal training positions for the national office of the Legal Services Corporation and the American Indian Lawyer Training Program. Jerry received his J.D. from the Antioch School of Law.
In 2022, Jerry was the recipient of the American Bar Association's Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice Father Robert F. Drinan Award for Distinguished Service to the Section for leadership in the Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice, leadership at the Tribal Law and Policy Institute and his lifelong commitment to serving Indian country.