Professor Whitener is the Executive Director of the Native American Law Center and Director of the Tribal Court Public Defense Clinic. He is also a Senior Law Lecturer at the UW School of Law.
A 1994 graduate of the UW School of Law, Professor Whitener worked as a tribal attorney for the Squaxin Island Tribe (of which he is a member) where he represented the tribal government in treaty rights defense, gaming and enterprises, and infrastructure development. He later worked at the Northwest Justice Project's (NJP) Native American Unit in Seattle, and headed the Indian Law Clinic, a joint project between the NJP and the UW School of Law. In 2002, Professor Whitener left the NJP to become the director of the Tribal Court Criminal Defense Clinic.
Professor Whitener's research interests are focused on the intersection of law and health issues for Native Americans. In 2006-2007 he was a Fellow of the University of Colorado, Health Sciences Center, Native Elder Research Center. He is co-investigator on several grants with the University of Washington Medical School. In 2008 he was awarded a MacArthur Foundation Models for Change grant to identify strong programs and areas of need for Washington State tribal juvenile justice programs.
Prof. Whitener is an Associate Justice of the Northwest Intertribal Court of Appeals, a Judgeof the Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation, and Of Counsel with Foster Pepper PLLC. In 2009 he received the American Association of Law Schools Section on Clinical Education's Shanara Gilbert Emerging Clinician Award, recognizing a clinician with ten or fewer years of teaching.