TJ is of Turtle Mountain Chippewa descent, with his mother being an enrolled member of the tribe. Growing up in the Trenton Indian Service Area in northwestern North Dakota, he realized from a young age the value of education. He holds an MPA and BSBM from the University of North Dakota. During his career, he has worked on wide-ranging grant programs and held tribal, local, and state government positions. His work has earned him numerous awards, including the Department of Energy’s Energy Rock Star Award, presented by the Assistant Secretary of Energy.