Breaking out on her own

Lacey A. Horn ’04, ’05
Lacey A. Horn ’04, ’05

Creating generational wealth is Lacey A. Horn’s ’04, ’05 business and passion.

After earning her degrees from SMU, Horn built a career that led to her launching and becoming CEO of Native Advisory; founder and head of Horn CPA, a niche cryptocurrency consulting firm that serves Tribes and individuals; and founder of the Native Opportunity Zone Fund LLP.

From learning how to run a small business in a lumberyard at the age of 4 to managing more than a billion dollars before turning 40, Lacey shares her Mustang journey and expert financial perspective.

SMU took a daughter of the Cherokee Nation, shaped me into a young business professional and paved my way to becoming a change-maker. The relationships I formed as a Mustang will always be my greatest gift that I received from SMU.

— Lacey A. Horn ’04, ’05, speaking at the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Awards ceremony

Stewarding what matters

Lacey grew up in a small town of 1,400 Native Americans in Vian, Oklahoma, where her mother was her role model, a nurse practitioner and “a true medicine woman.” Her father believed in her and served as the ultimate coach. They instilled in her and her two siblings the responsibility to give back. Her late Grandma Horn was her first finance and accounting professor who taught her everything that she needed to know about running a small business from her lumberyard before Lacey turned 4.

In 2011, at the age of 30, Lacey was appointed treasurer of the Cherokee Nation, a sovereign nation with more than 350,000 citizens. She arose as an advocate and thought leader, advising the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury on tribal taxation, authoring two pieces of U.S. legislation, expanding the Nation’s health care system, and overseeing a budget that doubled from $600 million to $1.2 billion.

“I love seeing Tribes make decisions with confidence,” she says, reflecting on what she finds most gratifying about her work. “They know what they’re doing and why they're doing it. It’s a priceless feeling when a solution is found to a systemic, long-term problem that you know once implemented will change lives for the better.”

Lacey painting a mural for displaced children in Puerto Rico
Lacey painting a mural for displaced children in Puerto Rico

Knowing what’s important

In 2019, she stepped down early from her position with the Cherokee Nation to spend more time with her son. Remaining committed to working in Indian country, she launched Native Advisory, a virtual advisory practice that allowed her to be in Oklahoma with her family and continue to help Tribes across the U.S.

“I knew that Tribes had a need for a seasoned financial voice that they could trust, someone with integrity who had been in their shoes,” she explains. “And I knew that I could get results for them without being on site.”

The timing of her new business’ launch made it possible for her to home school her son when COVID hit, but it also had its challenges.

“It’s a totally different mindset when you’re an entrepreneur versus being an employee,” Lacey explains. “There were skill sets that I needed to build in order to create a niche consultancy from scratch.”

From learning sales to time management, she honed her skills and pressed on, founding the Native Opportunity Zone Fund and Horn CPA, a cryptocurrency consulting firm serving Tribes and individuals.

“Right now, I’m deep diving into crypto and what it means for humanity,” she says. “I say Tribes are my passion, but crypto is where I have fun. I’ve been educating women and now Tribes on incorporating crypto into their financial sovereignty plans.”

Regarding the future, Lacey takes a wide-ranging view.

“Generally, what’s next for me is continuing my evolution as a person, professional and in all of the roles I occupy in my family.”

Creating wealth

When asked how individuals can create generational wealth, she encourages introspection.

“That’s highly personal to each individual,” she explains. “Return on investment can be spiritual, health, wealth, love, family or any number of things that matter to someone and are valuable in the long run. How one takes action or spends their time on those things is directly attributable to the outcomes they may experience.

“Asking yourself if what you are doing is going to create a ripple effect for generations to come puts the daily calendar into perspective.”

However, she is also a strong advocate for investing in the advice of financial experts, something she continues to do as well.

In the realm of cryptocurrency, she offers the following tips.

Lacey holding bitcoin

How to crypto

  1. Find credible information: Beyond the new ways of money, you need credible information. You wouldn’t trust heart surgery to the guy taking your order at the coffee shop, and you don’t trust your child’s education to the first search engine hit. It’s critical to get stealth intel here. Know that there is a lot of fake, false and conflicting information on the subject.

    Many of the “experts” out there aren’t people who are going to build generational wealth because they have no actual financial background.

    Don’t believe everything that you hear from influencers, guys in T-shirts or expats living in another country with a more crypto-friendly tax code.
  2. Adopt a courageous mindset: You need tenacity. You can’t be emotion-driven. With the market going up and down, it’s a roller coaster that you’re getting on. Before getting on, it’s important to know how to be brave. Crypto requires that you step up and into your courage, because there will be moments you will want to panic and you cannot. No one does it perfectly – I’ve learned a lot of hard lessons and have been up late making decisions I shouldn’t be.
  3. Deploy the right strategy for where you live: You need strategy. You need to learn from someone with hands-on experience. Someone who has had billions of dollars flow through their hands ¬with integrity. How important is integrity to you?

    It’s also important to know that most of the voices in this space talking about strategies don’t live in the United States. They aren’t here, and I’m serious when I say that matters. While cryptocurrencies and digital assets are a new global emerging asset class, it’s treated differently in every country. So, it’s important to learn and build your strategy with someone where you live.

Catching up with an emerging leader

Douglas C. Smellage, Lacey A. Horn and President R. Gerald Turner
Lacey A. Horn with 2017–2018 Alumni Board Chair Douglas C. Smellage ’77 and SMU President R. Gerald Turner at the 2017 SMU Distinguished Alumni Awards reception.

Lacey received the Emerging Leader award in 2017, the highest honor that can be bestowed on an alum who has graduated within the last 15 years.

2022 Distinguished Alumni and Emerging Leader award recipients will be announced before Homecoming. To nominate an alum for the 2023 selection process click here.

Lacey with her Tri Delta sisters
Family beach photo
Fast facts
  • SMU degrees: Bachelor of Business Administration, 2004, and Master of Science in accounting, 2005
  • SMU experience: Panhellenic representative for Delta Delta Delta, intramural basketball, Sing Song
  • Work life: CEO of Native Advisory; founder and head of HORN CPA, a niche cryptocurrency consulting firm that serves Tribes and individuals; and founder of the Native Opportunity Zone Fund LLP
  • Philanthropy: The Native American Rights Fund and Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian
In her own words
  • Family life: I literally married the nicest guy alive, Jerry Wayne Caughman. We grew up in church together and have the sweetest, most energetic 11-year-old son, Jack Kelly Caughman. I hit the lottery when it comes to parents and in-laws, too. Luckily, we all like to be together and my favorite getaways are the beach with my sister and her kids or Santa Fe to visit my brother and his family.
  • Free time: I love yoga, cardio tennis, power naps and walking in nature.
  • Favorite SMU nostalgia: I miss everything about it! I loved it all: studying for hours, fun parties and just being on campus – it’s seriously so beautiful.
  • Fun fact: There was once a prank I pulled with a group of SMU sisters that will remain unnamed. It involved some dish soap and a fountain we all love on the Hilltop. I can still feel the laughter and my heart beating at the sight of those bubbles. Needless to say, I never ran so fast in my entire life.

If you would like to connect with Lacey, you can email her here.