NavajoYES - A Navajo Nation Nonprofit
Friday, October 31, 2014
Offering adventure, enrichment & service learning for Dine' youth

Board & Staff

Clockwise from upper left: NavajoYES Board Member and TDR chef Irene Dayzie; Jimmy Keith; Past President Ron Barton & Louella Barton;
Director Tom Riggenbach; Fred Holiday with his family; and Trip Leader Kristine Laughter 
 
NavajoYES is a program committed to providing the greatest benefit to youth in the most efficient and effective manner possible.  Tom Riggenbach, our Executive Director, has been with the organization since its inception in 1994.  Additional trip leaders and instructors are hired on a contract basis or are volunteers. 
 

The NavajoYES Board of Directors includes: 

  •  Tom Riggenbach, Executive Director (T'iis Nazbas, Arizona)
  •  S. Rue Nelson, President (Grand Junction, Colorado)
  •  Esther Peaches, Vice President (Kayenta, Arizona)
  •  Kathleen Block, Secretary-Treasurer  (Whiteriver, Arizona) 
  •  Jimmy Keith (Monument Valley, Utah), Navajo Guide
  •  Irene Dayzie  (Shonto, Arizona)
  •  Jim Crittenden (Janesville, Wisconsin) 
      Advisory Board Members:
  •  Larry Price (Shiprock, New Mexico), Navajo Photographer
  •  Mike Buchheit (Grand Canyon, Arizona), Grand Canyon Field Institute
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  •  Clare Hoffman (New York, New York), Musician
  •  Jina Ethelbah (Mesa, Arizona), Medical Student
  •  Kristine Laughter (Winslow, Arizona), Bank Manager
  •  Michael D. Risinger (Peoria, Illinois)  Attorney-at-law
  •  Andy Salmon (Flagstaff, Arizona)  Single Track Bikes 
  •  Betty Charley-Hawley (Chilchinbeto, Arizona)

Tom Riggenbach, the voluntary Director of NavajoYES and lead guide on most treks, has over 25 years experience in the backcountry of the Southwest.  He has led over 200 youth wilderness outings, including backpacking, mountain biking and hiking adventures throughout the Grand Canyon, across the Navajo Nation and the Four Corners region.  His personal experience includes an ascent of  Kilimanjaro, trekking in the Everest region of Nepal, cycling from the Arctic Ocean to Canada and hiking the Inca Trail.  He has also ran hundreds of miles below the rim of Grand Canyon, including six rim-to-rim runs, and is a dedicated marathoner, with 75 marathons to date.  He is a trained Wilderness First Responder, with additional work in backcountry medicine.  Tom has studied with the Four Corners School of Outdoor Education, the Grand Canyon Field Institute and the Native American Environmental Education Program in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Board President Sharon Nelson, RN, FNP worked in Navajo Nation healthcare for eight years at Inscription House, Dennehotso and Chilchinbeto and is recently retired from the Grand County Health Dept. in Grand Junction, Colorado.   Ms. Nelson helped to bring significant growth to the organization during her time at the helm and continues to provide major leadership in fund-raising and program development.

Kathleen Block, a Peace Corps volunteer for four years in southern and West Africa, has been involved in NavajoYES programs and Native American education for nearly two decades.  An avid backpacker and hiker, she has biked the Tour de Rez route on four occassions and has assisted on over fifty outings.  Kathy was instrumental in the creation and operation of the Shonto Community Library in 1995 and served as president of that organization for three years.

Indian Wells native Sharon Lang has served on the NavajoYES board since 2006 and has been extremely active in the Shiprock Marathon programs since 2011.

Irene Dayzie has been a supporter of the Tour de Rez since her first children were part of the Tour experience in 1995.  Irene, a public school educator in Kayenta, is renown throughout the Four Corners for her fabulous cooking on the Chuska Challenge.

Chilchinbeto native Betty Charley-Hawley has been involved with NavajoYES outings since 1996.  Her children's involvement in the program was what originally brought her to the events, and we are pleased that she has continued to serve as a volunteer and board member for nearly a decade now.

Jim Crittenden of Rough Rock has been involved in the Tour de Rez and NavajoYES outings since 2005.  Jim loves to share his passion for the night sky and brings incredible tech skills to the organization.

Larry Price of Shiprock heads the Wells Fargo bank there and is also active in promoting Native American music acts throughout the region.  A board member since 1999, Larry has been instrumental in Native American music and photography and continues to be a strong advocate for NavajoYES in the eastern portion of the Navajo Nation.

Jina Ethelbah brings an Apache perspective to the NavajoYES program, having been raised in Whiteriver and now attending medical school in the Phoenix area.   Jina is an avid runner and is passionate in her outdoor pursuits.

The Director of the Grand Canyon Field Institute, Mike Buchheit serves in the role of advisory board member for NavajoYES.  Mike oversees the Grand Canyon's largest program for providing backcountry experiences for visitors.

Native flutist Jimmy Keith has led foreign tour groups on the Navajo Nation for ten years, earning a reputation as one of the most knowledgeable and culturally-aware guides in the area.  An accomplished player of the Native American flute, Jimmy infuses Dine' heritage and the arts on many NavajoYES trips.  He has recorded two CDs and appeared on KTNN and events across the Nation.  Jimmy has been involved in the Tour de Rez, Havasupai, Chuska, Little Colorado River, Durango and Grand Canyon trips in recent years and is an integral part of the Shiprock Marathon team. 

Kristine Laughter of Window Rock, a very active board member on NavajoYES outings, spends her days as the Manager of Wells Fargo Bank in Winslow.  Kristine herself has climbed in the Rockies and Tetons, and is developing a adventure-based mentoring project for Navajo girls.  Krsitine is frequent co-leader on our Grand Canyon backpacking trips.

Past President M. Ron Barton, originally from Beclabito, New Mexico, is our Past President.  With over two decades of medical service on the Navajo Nation, Ron provides brings insight and wisdom to the board. Ron and his wife Louella make their home in Navajo, New Mexico.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NavajoYES PROGRAM STAFF

Tom Riggenbach is the voluntary Director of the organization and the trip leader on most outings.  We partner with various individuals to staff our programs during peak times, particularly the summer months.

Jimmy Keith has led foreign tour groups on the Navajo Nation for eight years, earning a reputation as one of the most knowledgeable and culturally-aware guides in the area.  An accomplished player of the Native American flute, Jimmy infuses Dine' heritage and the arts on many NavajoYES trips.  He has been involved in the Tour de Rez, Supai, Durango and Grand Canyon trips in recent years.

Irene Dayzie has been a supporter of the Tour de Rez since her first children were part of the Tour experience in 1995.  Irene, a public school educator in Kayenta, is renown throughout the Four Corners for her fabulous cooking on the Chuska  Challenge.  Irene has spent hundreds of days in the Tour de Rez kitchen since 1996 and is well-known for her driving skills behind the wheel of "the Hummer" (the Tour's reliable '86 Suburban).

Fred Holiday of Monument Valley, Utah has worked the Tour de Rez and other bike outings for NavajoYES., bringing over 15 years of classroom experience to the field.  Fred quickly develops a positive rapport with students on outings and provides a stable, steady influence throughout the trips.

Shonto resident Kee Dayzie has brought his unique skills to many trips since the early 1990's.  Kee has supported multiple Tour de Rez trips, as well as camping/backpacking treks in the Navajo Mountain, Shonto, Chuska Mountain and Rainbow Bridge areas.