Ann Marie Chischilly, Esq.
Vice President, Native American Initiatives
Office of the President
Ms. Chischilly serves in a dual capacity at Northern Arizona University (NAU) in Flagstaff, Arizona. In February 2022, she was named Vice-President of the Office of Native American Initiatives (ONAI). ONAI is tasked with advancing NAU’s strategic goal, ‘to become the nation’s leading university serving Indigenous Peoples,’ with initiatives focusing on Native American student retention, tribal leadership, environmental stewardship in Native communities, culturally responsive K-12 pedagogy, and Native mentorship.
Ms. Chischilly continues to support the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP). For the past 10 years, she has managed ITEP’s work with Northern Arizona University, state and federal agencies, Tribes, and Alaska Native villages. In 2022, ITEP celebrated 30 years of serving over 95% of all 574 Tribes and Alaska Native villages. ITEP remains the premier tribal environmental organization training Tribes and Indigenous Peoples.
Ms. Chischilly is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation (Diné). She earned her Juris Doctorate (J.D.) degree from St. Mary’s University School of Law and a Master’s in Environmental Law (LL.M) from Vermont Law School. She is licensed in Arizona and is also a member of the International Bar Association.
Ora Marek-Martinez, Ph.D.
Dr. Ora Marek-Martinez is a citizen of the Diné (Navajo) Nation and is of the Mountain Cove clan; her father was Nez Perce from Northern Idaho. As the Associate Vice-President of the Office of Native American Initiatives, Ora’s work includes supporting and ensuring the success of Northern Arizona University Native American and Indigenous students through Indigenized programming and services to meet the unique needs of our students. As an Assistant Professor in the Northern Arizona University Anthropology Department, her research interests include Indigenous archaeology and Indigenous Heritage management, including research and approaches that utilize ancestral knowledge and storytelling in the creation of archaeological knowledge. Other research interests include southwestern archaeology, Indigenous futurisms, and decolonizing and Indigenizing archaeological narratives of the cultural landscape on Indigenous homelands as a way to reaffirm Indigenous connections to land and place. Dr. Marek-Martinez is also a founding member of the Indigenous Archaeology Coalition. She serves as the Faculty Co-Chair for the Commission for Indigenous Peoples.
Kiara Weathersby MA IEd
Director, Building Manager of Native American Cultural Center
Kiara Weathersby is an enrolled citizen of the Diné Nation. She is Ta’neeszahnii (Tangle People), born for the Nahilii (African Americans) Chickasaw & Choctaw of Mississippi. Her maternal grandfather is Diné (Navajo), and her paternal grandfather is Nahilii. She was born and raised in Kinlaní (Flagstaff, AZ). She is the Director and Building Manager of the Native American Cultural Center for the Office of Native American Initiatives at Northern Arizona University (NAU). Her scope of work focuses on the retention and graduation of students at the university by supporting students in their academic journey through workshops, development of skills, and referrals when needed. Before transferring to NAU, she received her Associate of Arts (AA) degree from Coconino Community College (CCC). Kiara is a President’s Medallion recipient at CCC, Student Worker of the Year at CCC, and Student Employee of the Year for the State of Arizona. She earned two Bachelor’s degrees in Business Administration with an Emphasis in Management and Psychological Sciences from NAU. She is a recipient of the Gold Axe Award and the Theodore “Ted” Johnson Outstanding Senior Award at NAU. In 2020, Kiara earned her Master of Arts degree in Indigenous Education through Arizona State University’s School of Social Transformation via her Applied Capstone Project, “Indigenizing the Ways Student Affairs Educators Are Informed to Support Students in the Twenty-First Century and Beyond.” Kiara previously served as a co-chair for the Commission for Indigenous Peoples and as a Commissioner for the City of Flagstaff Indigenous Commission.
Shirley Conrad, M.A.
Program Manager, Office of Native American Initiatives
Shirley comes from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories in northern Canada (also known as Land of the Midnight Sun in the summer months and the most spectacular Northern Lights in the winter months). Shirley is Denesuline (Chipewyan) from the Yellowknives Dene First Nations. As the new Program Manager for the Seventh Generation Research & Services team within ONAI. Shirley’s post-secondary education includes a Masters Degree in Professional Communication (Royal Roads University, Victoria, BC), Bachelor’s Degree (Anthropology/Art/Management, University of Lethbridge), Certificates in Human Resources, Public Relations & Communications, Contract Administration (Mount Royal University, Calgary, AB). Prior to moving to Flagstaff, Shirley spent 16 years in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, working in various provincial and government sectors. Her last role was with Indigenous Services Canada for Indian Oil and Gas Canada as the Communications Officer located on the Tsuut’ina Nation Reserve, in the SW corridor of the city of Calgary. Feel free to stop by and chat with Shirley on anything relating to the Dene way of life in Canada’s north to post-secondary studies and anything regarding Indigenous cultural values.
Colin Ben, Ph.D.
Asst Dir Seventh Generation Indigenous Knowledge Center, Office of Native American Initiatives
Colin Ben is a citizen of the Navajo Nation. He is of the Water’s Edge clan (Tábąąhí), born for Red-Running-into-the Water people (Tachii’nii). His maternal grandfather is of Bitter water clan (Tódich’iinii), and paternal grandfather is from the Salt People (Ashiihí). Colin was raised in the community of Shiprock and as first-generation college student, Colin learned how to navigate higher education by identifying staff, advisors, and faculty who supported his educational journey. With the support of these individuals, Colin earned his B.A. degree in Southwest Studies from Fort Lewis College, M.A. degree in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona, and Ph.D. degree in Educational Leadership and Policy from the University of Utah. Dr. Ben’s dissertation, “Navajo students’ decision-making factors that influence access and persistence in doctoral education” is important because, as the number of Navajo students earning graduate degrees increases, the tribal skill set increases and simultaneously advances the efforts of tribal nation building.
Manley Begay, Ed.D.
Director, Tribal Leadership Initiative
Applied Indigenous Studies and Politics and International Affairs
In addition to faculty appointments in the Departments of Applied Indigenous Studies and Politics and International Affairs, Dr. Begay (Navajo) is affiliate faculty in the W. A. Franke College of Business at Northern Arizona University. Since 1997, he has also been co-director (with Professors Joseph Kalt and Stephen Cornell) of the award-winning Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, working for and with Indigenous governments, enterprises, organizations, and communities world-wide, providing research, advisory services, and executive education on issues of nation-building and economic development. Professor Begay is recognized nationally and internationally as one of the primary planners and designers of the now-accepted theory of how Indigenous nations and communities build nations that work.
Darold H. Joseph, Ph.D.
Director, Institute for Native- Serving Educators
Darold H. Joseph, Ph.D., is Paa-Is-wung-wa (Water Coyote Clan) from the Hopi Village of Lower Moenkopi. He is a son, brother, uncle, husband, father and grandfather to his family. His father’s family represent the Nuva-wung-wa or Snow Clan from the Village of Shungopavi. Dr. Joseph was raised on Hopi and graduated from the Tuba City High School. He received his dual bachelor’s degree in elementary and special education and his master’s in Educational Leadership with an emphasis in Disability Studies, both from Northern Arizona University. His career began with becoming an Assistant Director for a Developmental Disabilities Day Program serving adolescents and adults with disabilities in an urban setting. Soon after he returned home to Hopi and worked in K-12 Special Education settings as a teacher and administrator. Informed by his experiences, Darold was emboldened to address the systemic barriers and inequities existing in education particularly related to the Native American population and so he left the K-12 environment to pursue a PhD in Special Education with a minor in Language, Reading, and Culture at the University of Arizona.
Dr. Joseph is now an Assistant Professor within the department of Educational Specialties in the NAU College of Education preparing pre-service and in-service educators in the professions of Special Education and Elementary Education. He has previously taught as an adjunct faculty for the Applied Indigenous Studies department and also served as Tribal Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist for the National American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation Training and Technical Assistance Center. His current work is focused on examining the sociocultural constructs of educational systems that inform the inequities experienced by Indigenous youth to persist in educational settings. Additionally, he is part of multiple research projects that are thematically focused on the cultural well-being of Indigenous youth by developing practices and strategies that are culturally sustaining and responsive to the educational and behavioral health needs of students. Which one of those projects include being a research specialist with the Diné Institute. His history of experience has culminated and contributed to sustaining relationships with students, communities, and professionals within and outside the broader community of NAU supporting and leveraging the self-determination and sovereignty of federally recognized tribes, related to the education, health, and wellness of Indigenous youth. One such effort Dr. Joseph is honored to be a part of is, and on the behalf of the Hopi Tribe, is serving as the Chair of the Hopi School System Transition Team made up of school administrators, educators, school staff, and parents to lead the efforts with developing a new unified Hopi School system.
Senior Director of Development for Native American Initiatives
As Senior Director of Development for Native American Initiatives, Ron plans to help NAU strengthen its tribal partnerships “to become the nation’s leading university serving Native Americans.” Formerly, Ron served as District Director & Intergovernmental Relations for Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick in Arizona’s First Congressional District. Ron led a congressional staff located in seven district offices to provide constituent services, district-specific policy priorities and policy recommendations. For 8 years, Ron was owner and president of Native Policy Group, an independent political consulting firm that advocated for Arizona public schools located on Indian reservations, tribal colleges and universities, telecommunications and healthcare. Ron also served 6 years as Executive Director of the Arizona Commission of Indian Affairs to help the State of Arizona build better communications and relations with Arizona’s 22 Indian tribes/nations. Ron has 19 years of experience in public affairs, government and tribal relations, public policy and administration. Ron holds a BS from Arizona State University and an MPA from Northern Arizona University. He also served two-terms as Chairman of the Native American Advisory Board to NAU Presidents Cheng and John Haeger. Ron is Dine’ from the Navajo Nation and resides in Flagstaff with his family.