Congratulations to the 2022 Indigenous Resilience Leadership Awardees

Nov. 7, 2022
Collage of headshots for each of the award recipients

Dr. Otakuye Conroy-Ben
Dr. Timian M Godfrey
Sixth World Solutions, Janene Yazzie and Kern Collymore

This prestigious new honorary award recognizes outstanding individuals making a positive impact in tribal communities to create healthy environments. An award ceremony was held at the 2nd Annual Tribal Leaders Summit: Advancing Tribal Health in Phoenix, AZ on November 4th. IRes Director, Dr. Karletta Chief, presented these awards at the Resilience Award luncheon. The vision of IRes is that we see a world in which Indigenous communities are thriving and adaptable to meet environmental and societal challenges. IRes is supported by the University of Arizona Institute for Resilient Environments and Societies, and the Agnese Nelms Haury Program in Environment and Social Justice. IRes aims to position UArizona as a world leader in Indigenous resilience research, education, and outreach.

Dr. Otakuye Conroy-Ben headshot

Dr. Otakuye Conroy-Ben​​​

Assistant Professor, School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

Dr. Otakuye Conroy-Ben Assistant Professor, School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering Bio Otakuye Conroy-Ben (Oglala Lakota) is an assistant professor in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Build Environment at Arizona State University. Conroy-Ben received a bachelor's degree in chemistry from the University of Notre Dame, a master's degree in analytical chemistry from the University of Arizona, and a doctorate in environmental engineering from the University of Arizona. Her research focuses on the biological effects of polluted water. Her research interests include environmental endocrine disruption, metal and antibiotic resistance in bacteria, and wastewater epidemiology. Conroy-Ben is advisor to the ASU chapter of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES).

Reason Selected for Resilience Leadership Award
Dr. Otakuye Conroy-Ben is a nationally recognized engineer in wastewater epidemiology and developed tools to understand COVID-19, opioid misuse, and water quality disparities in Native American communities. With her team, she developed a new method to quantify proteins of the coronavirus and created the Wastewater-Based Epidemiology Tribal Coordination Center and COVID-19 dashboard. Her work centers Indigenous data sovereignty and tribal research ethics while training Native American students and professionals. Tribes who were hard hit with COVID-19 impacts were able to use the results from Dr. Conroy-Ben’s laboratories to make informed and quick decisions during a public health emergency potentially saving lives for communities that do not have equitable access to data, health or research.

Dr. Timian Godfrey headshot

Timian M Godfrey, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC

Assistant Clinical Professor

Dr. Timian Godfrey is a member of the Navajo Nation and belongs to the Red Bottom clan with her maternal grandfather being from the Salt clan. Dr. Godfrey graduated from the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing Doctor of Nursing Practice-Executive program in 2019, and simultaneously attained certification in American Indian Health from the Center for Indigenous Health at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. Currently, she is an Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of Arizona College of Nursing in the Family Nurse Practitioner-DNP program. Dr. Godfrey has more than 19 years of health care experience working in the capacities of a certified nursing assistant, emergency medical technician, registered nurse, and now as a nurse practitioner. In addition to her work in academia, Dr. Godfrey also works as a nurse practitioner with TribalHealth, an emergency medicine leadership company that works exclusively with government and tribal health programs. A primary motivation to pursue a nursing career is her personal conviction in Hózhó , a Navajo holistic belief that health and well-being for all living things results in physical and spiritual beauty, harmony and goodness. It is often said that one must "walk in beauty." Dr. Godfrey believes this statement aligns with the mission of nursing.

Reason Selected for Resilience Leadership Award
Dr. Timian M Godfrey has been part of the effort to get legislation passed for tribal communities and has put together pathways for native students pursuing nursing. She is committed to tribal health and opportunities for native students to excel and support their communities. For Dr. Godfrey, academia provides a unique opportunity to develop innovative strategies that promote academic equity. She is a strong advocate for increasing the presence of underrepresented peoples in health science professions. To achieve this goal, her primary focus is creating equitable academic opportunities for students from historically marginalized populations. At the University of Arizona, she is the current PI for two federal grants aiming to diversity the nursing workforce and increase the presence of Native American nurses working in tribal communities. Dr. Godfrey stated that she believes, “…collaborative efforts with our communities are the way to address many of the nation's most pressing health issues. She is deeply honored to be recognized by the Indigenous Resilience Center and takes this as a call to action to continue advocating for health equity.”

Sixth World Solutions logo

Sixth World Solutions

Sixth World Solutions is a non-profit organization that takes a systems-based approach to develop socio-economic solutions for Indigenous Peoples, Nations, and communities. They center community leadership and rights-based approaches for regenerative, place-based solutions. Sixth World Solutions is guided by Indigenous principles of kinship, community, environmental responsibilities, traditional principles of leadership, and strategic planning modeled after seventh-generation philosophy.

Reason Selected for Resilience Leadership Award
Sixth World Solutions has been supporting Indigenous communities by piloting SNF nanofiltration units across the Navajo Nation. They work closely with community members to co-design the units to meet their water and energy needs. Sixth World Solutions centers community leadership and rights-based approaches for regenerative, place-based solutions. Sixth World Solutions work has supported tribal health that has been impacted by issues such as COVID and long-term drought.

Janene Yazzie headshot

Janene Yazzie

Janene Yazzie (She/Her/Hers), NDN Collectives Southwest Regional Director, is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation. She has over 12 years of experience as a community organizer and human rights advocate deeply rooted in local community issues. Beginning from her community Tsé si’ áni, in Diné Bikéyah, she has worked on the intersections of climate change, water security, food security, energy development, and nation building with Indigenous communities and Indigenous-led organizations in the US, Canada and Latin America. Working at the local, national, and international levels of governance, she has built expertise in advancing Indigenous Peoples rights through policy and facilitating rights-based approaches to development through holistic, place-based solutions. She has a background in International Policy and Human Rights. Janene is a co-founder of Sixth World Solutions.

Kern Collymore headshot

Kern Collymore

Kern Collymore is Afro-Caribbean from Trinidad and Tobago. After graduating from Columbia University he co-founded Sixth World Solutions and has worked on land restoration, water security and food sovereignty for over a decade. He developed the Community Leadership Program for the first Navajo Nation community-led watershed project called the Little Colorado River Watershed Chapters Association (LCRWCA). Recently, Kern has focused his efforts in developing solar water filtration, rainwater catchment systems and other forms of sustainable development for Diné producers to deal with the dual impacts of COVID and long-term drought. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Sustainable Communities at Northern Arizona University (NAU). As an activist Kern has been on the frontlines advocating for the rights of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), helping to facilitate teach-ins, engaging in policy advocacy, assisting with mutual aid and creating a network of support amongst BIPOC communities.