Grassy Mountains

OUR ADVISORY COMMITTEE

 

DR. MANELY BEGAY

Advisory Committee Member

Dr. Manley A. Begay, Jr. (Navajo) is both Faculty Chair of the Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy at the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, and Senior Lecturer/Associate Social Scientist in the American Indian Studies Program at the University of Arizona. He also serves as Faculty Affiliate at the Institute of the Environment, as well as co-director of the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.
Begay obtained his Ed.D. and M.Ed. degrees in Administration, Planning, and Policy at Harvard Graduate School of Education, and Ed.S. and M.Ed. degrees in Educational Administration from Brigham Young University, and holds B.A. in secondary education from the University of Arizona and A.A. from Dine College (formerly Navajo Community College).
He teaches courses on Native nation building, curriculum development, and Indigenous education. His research and work experience has focused on projects about and for Native nations in the promotion of strong and effective institutions of governance and leadership. He has presented on a variety of topics from leadership to Indigenous nation building and from curriculum development to pedagogy and from historical and contemporary Indigenous issues to education at numerous national and international colleges and universities, private and public high schools, national and international conferences, institutes, and symposia. He also has worked closely with Native nations in the United States, First Nations and Bands in Canada, Aborigines in Australia, and Maoris in Aotearoa (New Zealand).

DAWNAFE WHITESINGER

Advisory Committee Member

Supervisor Dawnafe Whitesinger represents District V on the Navajo County Board of Supervisors.  She is the first White Mountain Apache to serve on the Board of Supervisors and was the first woman to serve as Chair in 2015. As a member of the White Mountain Apache Tribe, she grew up on the Fort Apache Reservation and currently lives in the Pinetop-Lakeside area.
Supervisor Whitesinger has a strong love of her community, and has spent the majority of her life working in the field of education to better the lives of children and their families. Supervisor Whitesinger holds a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from Arizona State University, and a Master of Arts in Curriculum Development from the University of Michigan.
Following the completion of her Master’s degree, Supervisor Whitesinger started as the Curriculum Specialist for the Dishchii’bikoh (Cibecue) Community School, and now serves as the Director of Instruction Programs for that organization. She has been dedicated to the service of her community and the students of Cibecue for 14 years. She has been a strong advocate for students and community growth.
Through her years of experience in public service, Supervisor Whitesinger has gained a tremendous amount of knowledge about the community and how her leadership can better serve not only students, but the community as a whole. She currently serves as the Board of Directors Chair of the Sunrise Park Resort (White Mountain Apache owned and operated ski and outdoor recreation area), Vice-Chair of the White Mountain Apache First Things First Regional Council, Chair of the White Mountain Regional Transportation Committee, Board of Directors member of Conservation Legacy (national organization dedicated to supporting locally based conservation service programs); Advisory Board Member of White Mountain Youth Corp, Vice Chair of Board of Directors for Books for Kids AZ, and National Association of Counties Human Services and Education Committee member.

ROCQUE PEREZ

Advisory Committee Member

Born in Tucson, Arizona, from a family that predominately emigrated from Mexico, Rocque would ruminate with his family and friends about the challenges facing an American with Hispanic roots: how to deal with a more hostile environment against Latinos, and how to assert his U.S. citizenship, his birthright, while staying connected to his community. His identities are intersectional, identifying as the first gay man in his family, having come out during a time when societal acceptance of the LGBTQ community was still shifting in its favor.


From a very young age, Rocque knew that he wanted to dedicate himself to work in service to others. He found this work as an escape from a childhood filled with adverse circumstances, where he encountered substance, physical, and emotional abuse.


Having beaten the odds against him, he graduated and began his journey in higher education at the University of Arizona. A first-generation and self-supporting student, he pursued a degree in Political Science and Public Relations.


While attending college, Rocque immediately found himself in student government where he served two terms as a Student Body Senator. In his tenure, he led a variety of efforts in favor of a more equitable experience for students with backgrounds much like himself. One of his proudest moments was his leadership in earning the institution the designation as a Purple Heart University, additionally securing funding for an initial scholarship for veterans. Which was later recognized by Arizona's  U.S. Senators alongside UA President, Dr. Robbins.


It was this combination of studies, connections, and employment at the University that kickstarted his goal to do more and dream bigger.

DR. MICHAEL WRIGHT

Advisory Committee Member

Dr. Michael L. Wright is the superintendent of schools for Blue Ridge Unified School District. He has been a leader in education, corporate development, and community relations for over 20 years. After graduating from Arizona State University, Mike taught and coached at Gilbert High School in 1990 and Florence High School from 1993 to 1997. From 1997 to 2014, he held various executive and senior executive leadership positions at Universal Technical Institute in Scottsdale, Arizona, and York Technical Institute in York, Pennsylvania. He became superintendent of Blue Ridge Unified School District in December 2014. Wright currently serves on the Commission for Post-Secondary Education and the Board of Directors for the Kairos Health Arizona Inc.

PAUL WATSON

Advisory Committee Member

Paul Watson currently serves as the Assistant County Manager / Economic & Workforce Development Director for Navajo County as well as the Executive Director for REAL Az Development Council the economic development organization representing Apache and Navajo Counties.  Prior to this position Paul served as the Town Manager for the Towns of Snowflake and Pinetop-Lakeside and Finance Director for Pinetop-Lakeside and the Town of Eagar.  He received his A.A. degree from Mesa Community College and his B.S. in Accounting from Brigham Young University.  He has and continues to serve on numerous boards and committees representing economic development and tourism in the White Mountain region, northern Arizona and the State of Arizona.  

ERIC DESCHEENIE

Advisory Committee Member

Since 2004, Eric has held appointments with the Arizona Governor’s Office of Equal Opportunity, Arizona Department of Housing, Office of the Speaker – Navajo Nation Council, Navajo County Administration, and the Office of the President and Vice President – Navajo Nation. In 2017-18, Eric served in the Arizona House of Representatives – 53rdArizona State Legislature. Eric is Diné, originally from Chinle, Navajo Nation (Arizona). He is Ma'ii deeshgiizhinii (Coyote Pass People Clan), born for Kiyaa'aanii (Towering House Clan); his grandfathers are Bit'ahnii (Within His Cover Clan) and his paternal grandfathers are Honághááhnii (One Who Walks Around Clan). He is alumnus of Arizona State University, a facilitation consultant, and currently resides in Flagstaff, AZ.

©2019 by The Indigenous Peoples' Initiative