Mission & History

Our mission is to promote community wellness, lifelong fitness and youth empowerment in communities across Dine’ Bikeyah.
We began offering outdoor adventures for youth in the Shonto community in 1988 and incorporated with the IRS and Navajo Nation in 1994 as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization: Youth Empowerment Services for Dine’ Bikeyah, aka NavajoYES.  Since that time, we have been involved in offering positive programs and activities for youth and communities across the Navajo Nation.  We have led over 250 wilderness outings for youth, organized the Tour de Rez, Chuska Challenge Shiprock Marathon and, in 2015, established the Navajo Parks Race Series.   Our community service initiatives have led to the creation of many miles of trails across the reservation and we now serve in an oversight capacity, promoting the developments of trails across the Nation.  Our community outreach and education efforts reach thousands of youth and families every year.

NavajoYES Board of Directors

  • Tom Riggenbach
    Tom Riggenbach

    Executive Director

    Tom was involved in the conception of NavajoYES in 1994 and has served as the Executive Director on a voluntary basis since 2000. Tom has been instrumental in the planning and implementation of most aspects of the program, serving as trip leader on most youth outings and Tour de Rez, as well as the Race Director for the Navajo Parks Race Series. Personally, Tom is an avid runner and backpacker. In 2015, he completed his 100th marathon and qualified for the Boston Marathon for the 4th time. He has cycled from the Arctic to the rez, has trekked in Africa, Nepal and South America and has completed a marathon on all seven continents and in each of the 50 states.

  • Kristine Laughter
    Kristine Laughter


    Kristine has been involved with NavajoYES for over a decade, serving as a trip leader, event volunteer, board member and now President. Originally from Kayenta, Kristine brings a financial background to the organization and now works for Navajo Technical University’s Business Incubator in Gallup.

  • Phefelia Herbert
    Phefelia Herbert

    Vice President

    Having worked with Dine’ College for many years and now serving as Second Lady of the Navajo Nation, Phefelia brings a unique perspective to the organization. As the mother of two and wife of Vice President Nez, she brings her organizational and grant-writing acumen to the organization. She and her family live in Window Rock.

  • Rue Nelson
    Rue Nelson


    Rue operated the Chilchinbeto Health Clinic and served at Inscription House and Dennehotso for over a decade of her healthcare career. As Past President, she brings great leadership, grant-writing and organizational talents to NavajoYES. She has been instrumental in the growth of Shiprock Marathon and the Navajo Parks Race Series.

  • Aaron Beauford
    Aaron Beauford


    A social work major at Utah State University, Aaron is a Tour de Rez, Rainbow Bridge and Chuska Challenge alumni, and has volunteered at many events over the past three years. He has been a key player in our trail initiatives and service projects in the Carrizo and Chuska Mountains and on the Rainbow Trail. Aaron hails from Red Valley, Arizona and brings a strong youth perspective to the organization.

  • Myron Bryant
    Myron Bryant


    As a five-time Tour de Rez alumni, Myron continues to be involved in the programs and outings of NavajoYES. Myron was a key figure in the development of the Navajo Parks Race Series in the summer of 2015 and was instrumental in plotting the course for the Asaayi Mountain Runs, Rainbow Bridge Ultra and Monument Valley Marathon events. Originally from Shonto, Myron is a junior at Page High School.

  • Jimmy Keith
    Jimmy Keith


    The rez-renown flute player has been a part of YES outings and events for over 15 years. “Jimbo” has been a support staff, driver, entertainer/cultural educator and occasional trip leader over the years. Originally from Chilchinbeto, Jimbo has been a Navajo guide in Monument Valley for the past decade.

  • Irene Dayzie
    Irene Dayzie


    Irene has been involved in Tour de Rez each summer since 1996, bringing her cooking and camping skills to our annual summer trek. Each of her kids – and now the grandkids – have been a part of the tradition. She has also been a key volunteer on many of our events, and has served on the Board since 2005.

  • Bob DeJolie
    Bob DeJolie


    Since the age of nine, Bob has been an active participant in NavajoYES, doing hikes, biking trips and trail work.  Now a senior at Page High School, Bob continues to be active in our trails efforts and has been a volunteer at many of the Navajo Parks Race Series events.

    • Scott Nydam
      Scott Nydam

      Scott Nydam is a former pro cyclist and current coach for the BMC Cycling Team.  Scott has been a NavajoYES board member since 2015, with a special focus on our bike projects.  He is co-owner of Silver Stallion Coffee in Gallup, New Mexico, where he lives with his family.

      Advisory Board

      Manuelito Wheeler – Director, Navajo Nation Museum

      Daryl Billy – Navajo Rangers

      Neil Stitzer – Southwest Trail Solutions

      Jim Crittenden – Educator/Tech Support

      Cindy Bates – Dine’ College, Shiprock

      Clare Hoffman – Program Director, Grand Canyon Music Festival

      George Kelly – Beclabito ALERT President

      Troy A. Eid – Attorney at Law

      Orleta Slick – Shonto Prep School

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