LEADERSHIP HONOREES

Naat'áanii

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The Honorable Dr. Joe Shirley, Jr. is presently serving his sixth, four-year term as an Apache County Supervisor in Arizona. His inspirational journey includes a distinguished leadership history that includes serving with the Chinle Agency Division of Social Services, and as Navajo Nation Council Delegate for Chinle, Arizona. In 2002, he was elected by the Navajo people with 31,406 votes and was inaugurated as the President of the Navajo Nation on January 14, 2003.


In 2007, he became the first Navajo Nation President to be re-elected for the largest Tribal Nation in the United States. He stood against the Navajo Nation Council by vetoing the Diné Marriage Act of 2005 and proclaimed proudly that our gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and two-spirit relatives deserve equal rights and protections as every Navajo citizen. 


A graduate of Chinle High School (1966), he attained an Associates of Arts Degree in (1968) from Magic Valley Christian College, a Bachelor of Science in Business from Abilene Christian University (1973), and a Masters in Social Work from Arizona State University (1978). In 2005, Northern Arizona University bestowed upon Shirley an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters for his 35 years of continued service to the Navajo Nation. 


President Shirley worked in social services for 15 years as a social worker where he had extensive first-hand exposure to the severe problems and devastation within Navajo communities. From 1983 to 1984, he served as Executive Director of the Navajo Nation Division of Social Services. He is passionate about ensuring quality educational opportunities and safe transportation of students to and from school and has initiated many partnerships and collaborations to improve our resources. 


President Shirley is married to Vikki Shirley of Lukachukai, Arizona, and they have six children. He enjoys reading books, jogging, country-western dancing with his wife, and playing basketball with his children.

President Joe Shirley, Jr.

Dr. Andy Nez is from Rabbitbrush, NM. A former Diné language and culture classroom teacher and volleyball coach, he currently serves as a Senior Education Specialist for the Office of Research & Statistics at the Navajo Nation Dept. of Diné Education and a Diné Language and Culture Consultant. 


Dr. Nez passionately works toward gender equality and Diné language revitalization in the Navajo Nation. In 2017, Dr. Nez co-founded Diné Pride and served on various committees, including a former member of the Board of Directors for the Navajo Studies Conference, Inc. He continues to discuss gender equality in Native communities, particularly among the Diné people, during conferences, partnerships, and provides feedback for leaders in local communities and within academic institutions.


Last year, Dr. Nez spearheaded a campaign to provide additional scholarships for two Diné LGBTQ+ high school seniors, including his lead on “Queer Coffeehouse Series”, which was a month-long event devoted to the exceptional work of queer Diné relatives. Dr. Nez received his doctorate in education with an emphasis in organizational leadership from Grand Canyon University. His dissertation explored the leadership practices and organizational outcomes of gay male Navajo leaders. 

Dr. Andy Nez

Radmilla Cody is a GRAMMY Nominee, multiple Native American Music Awards winner, Miss Navajo Nation from 1997-1998, one of NPR's 50 great voices, a Black History Maker Honoree, and an advocate against domestic abuse and violence. Miss Cody is of the Tla'a'schi'i' (Red Bottom People) clan and is born for the Naahilii (African-Americans). 

Born and raised in the beautiful and picturesque plateaus of the Navajo Nation, Ramilla’s childhood consisted of herding sheep on foot and horseback, carding and spinning wool, and searching late into the night with her grandmother for lost sheep and their lambs. The highlight of her sheep herding days was standing on the sheep corral singing at the top of her lungs with the sheep and goats as her audience. 

A survivor of domestic violence, Radmilla uses her personal experiences to advocate strongly against the epidemic of violence. It is an issue she has become very passionate about. As a biracial person, she attempts to communicate positive messages about her dual identity as children who are biracial or multiracial still bear the brunt of prejudice. 

Radmilla is the subject of an award-winning documentary entitled "Hearing Radmilla", produced and directed by Angela Webb, which further explores Radmilla's journey as an activist and international performer. Radmilla has her Bachelor of Science degree in Public Relations with a minor in Sociology and is currently pursuing a Masters in Sociology. In 2010, Radmilla was selected for NPR's 50 Great Voices, a yearlong series featuring singers from all over the world. Recently, Radmilla was awarded the "Black History Makers Award 2012" from Initiative Radio and was selected as the first Native American awards presenter at the 55th GRAMMY Pre-Telecast Awards Ceremony. 

*** The term Naahilii is a new term that was passed down to Radmilla from a Diné practitioner when she inquired about a more positive, respectful, and empowering term to identify those whom she is born for, the African Americans. The following is the Dine' description of the term Naahilii / Nahilii: "Na(a)" - Those who have come across. "hil (slash in the l)" - dark, calm, have overcome, persevered and we have come to like. "ii" - oneness. 

Radmilla Cody

Navajo Nation Council Delegate Nathaniel Brown represents the communities of Chilchinbeto, Dennehotso, and Kayenta, Arizona. As a member of the Budget and Finance Committee, Mr. Brown is a sponsor of the ‘Diné Pride Week’ legislation that made history in June 2020 as the first sovereign acknowledgment of LGBTQ+ Pride in the country. He continues to advocate for LGBTQ rights for our relatives across the Navajo Nation and is working to pass the ‘Diné Equality Act’ this year.  


Delegate Brown studied environmental science at Haskell Indian Nations University and has provided testimony on Indigenous human rights to the United Nations in New York City. He is an advocate for our Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Movement and is a longtime advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights for Indigenous communities across the United States. 

Delegate Nate Brown