The goal of NavajoYES is to promote community wellness, lifelong fitness and youth empowerment in families, schools and communities across the Navajo Nation.
Tom Riggenbach, the Director of NavajoYES and lead guide on most treks, has over 30 years experience in the backcountry of the Southwest. He has led over 300 youth wilderness outings, including backpacking, mountain biking and hiking adventures throughout the region. Tom has a passion for running, has ran Boston four times, and has completed marathons in all 50 states and on all seven continents.
George is the head of Beclabtio CERT. He and his team are an integral part of the Dine' Bike Project and the Navajo Parks Race Series, to which they donate hundreds of manhours each year. Beclabito Baptist Church serves as the base of the Dine' Bike Project, which aids in the distribution of hundreds of bikes across the Nation each year.
Our course coordinator for the Navajo Parks Race Series is Rygie Bekay of K'aabizhii nahastl'ah, who oversees all race day operations across the Nation. He is also a backcountry trip leader and a member of our trail crew. Rygie, who is Wilderness First Aid-certified, is also an avid hiker, backpacker and runner.
Irene has been a supporter of the Tour de Rez since her first children were part of the Tour experience in 1995. She and her daughters and granddaughters are part of the food team at many NavajoYES events. She lives in the Shonto community near Black Mesa, where she oversees her family's cattle and sheep ranch.
Sharon Nelson, RN, FNP worked in Navajo Nation healthcare for eight years at Inscription House, Dennehotso and Chilchinbeto and currently lives in Duluth, Minnesota where cold is the new cool. Ms. Nelson has helped to bring significant growth to the organization during her time at the helm and continues to provide major leadership in program development.
Irvina Ellison of T'iis Nazbas has been involved with NavajoYES since her sons became involved with Tour de Rez in their childhood. She is an active volunteer with Navajo Parks Race Series events, where she serves as registration coordinator. She and her family live in T'iis Nazbas.
Since 2005, Kimberly Keith of Shonto has been involved in outings and projects of NavajoYES. She currently is a trip leader on Grand Canyon and Rainbow Bridge treks, serves as an aid station volunteer on NPRS events, works on the summer trail team and provides medical/first aid support at events. Kim is Wilderness First Aid-certified and brings to the organization an awesome personality, music skills and passion for Dine' Bikeyah.
Betty (in lime jacket above, with family, as always), hails from White Mesa, near Chilchinbeto. She has been an active NavajoYES volunteer and board member since the 1990's. She and her kids - and now grandkids - have grown up with the organization over the past two decades. In recent years, she has assumed a large role with the Navajo Parks Race Series and Tour de Rez Cup Series.
Chase experienced the great outdoors with NavajoYES as a child backpacking to Rainbow Bridge; the passion for the outdoors and fitness has stayed with him. After returning from a stint with the United States Marine Corps, Chase returned to Kayenta and is now a board member and very active volunteer with NavajoYES. He is an all-around athlete, with a special interest in weights, running and Spartan races.
Klara is an archaeologist who serves as a board member and cultural resource consultant for trail projects across the Navajo Nation. She and her husband David are regular volunteers at NavajoYES events, and have a strong love of the outdoors, climbing and backpacking.
Nealsa is an avid runner and has taken part in all of the Navajo Parks Races Series events, as well as trail races across the Southwest. She is a member of the NavajoYES board and is an active volunteer. Originally from Tonalea, she resides with her four children in Page, Arizona.
The NavajoYES Board President Sharon Sandoval hails from the community to To'ko, near Shiprock. Sharon is an active NPRS volunteer and helps to host the Dine' Bike Project in her home church, Beclabito Baptist Church. She leads an active lifestyle, and takes part in multiple races throughout the year.
An EMT and diabetes educator with the Utah Navajo Health System, Bernadine is based in Monument Valley. She is a board member of NavajoYES, and is a very active volunteer with the Navajo Parks Race Series and the Tour de Rez Cup Series. She takes part in races and events around the Nation, and she won the 2019 Tour de Rez Cup. Bern is an avid cyclist and runner.
Troy became familiar with the NavajoYES and the Navajo Parks Race Series by taking part in the series, through which he has experienced all the tribal parks. As an avid runner, Troy appreciates the beauty of Dine' Bikeyah and offers legal insight and advise for the board. He is the president of the Navajo Bar Association and is a partner with Greenberg, Traurig, LLP.
As the Director of the Division of Natural Resources, Bidtah was instrumental in the creation of the Navajo Parks Race Series, the year-round series that highlights the Navajo tribal parks. Bidtah is now associate attorney for NTUA and lives with her family in Fort Defiance.
Jim has been an active participant in NavajoYES programs for over a decade. His first encounter with the organization was through NavajoYES backpacking treks with his students in Grand Canyon. He currently serves the program as event registrar for NPRS and Tour de Rez Cup events.
The Navajo Nation First Lady has worked with Dine' College for many years and has served as a board member of NavajoYES since 2010. She brings a unique perspective and skill set to the organization. She and her husband, President Jonathan Nez, live in Window Rock with their two sons.