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The Navajo Nation Has a New EPA Director

February 18
08:08 2021

New Navajo EPA Director Named

By John Christian Hopkins

Valinda Shirley

The Navajo Nation Council confirmed Valinda C. Shirley as the new executive director for the tribe’s Environmental Protection Agency.

She was confirmed by a 22-0 vote.

“On behalf of the Nez-Lizer Administration, we thank the honorable members of the 24th Navajo Nation Council for their support in confirming the appointment, and we thank Council Delegate Kee Allen Begay, Jr. for sponsoring the bill, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said.

With her upbringing, education and professional experience, he is confident that Shirley will do a great job leading the Navajo Nation EPA, Nez said.

“Her traditional upbringing combined with her formal education in biochemistry provides for a unique and very knowledgeable perspective on many issues related to protecting our environment for generations to come,” Nez added.

Shirley resides in Rock Point, Ariz., with her husband and children. She is Táchiinii and born for Tł’ízÍ łání. Her maternal grandfather is Bit’ahnii, and her paternal grandfather is Ta’neeszhahnii.

Before her appointment, she served as the Senior Remedial Project Manager for the Navajo Nation EPA Superfund Program, coordinating on-site environmental cleanup or remediation projects to ensure compliance with Navajo Nation and federal environmental laws, standards, and regulations, and requirements, including Diné Fundamental Law

Shirley earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Biochemistry from the University of New Mexico and graduated as the valedictorian from Rock Point High School.

“Her appointment is a prime example of a Navajo Nation employee who worked hard and worked her way up within the division to reach this point. Shirley has proven to be a strong leader in the previous work she has done for the Nation,” Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer said. “She has extensive experience in bridging partnerships and opportunities between the Nation and federal EPA. We look forward to the new direction she will provide for the Navajo Nation EPA.”

Shirley has been acting EPA director since December.

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