Our Dream Team
Committed to the Cause
Dr. Alta Piechowski
Spiritual and Cultural Affairs
Dr. Alta Piechowski-Begay (she/her/hers) is Diné (Navajo) of the Edgewater clan, born for the Red House clan. Her maternal grandfather is of the Honeycomb clan and her paternal grandfather is of the Towering House clan. Dr. Piechowski currently resides in Fort Defiance, Arizona and is a school psychologist. Having worked in the mental health field in the Diné Nation for over 30 years, she is able to integrate traditional Diné healing practices taught by her elders with the western models of therapy. Dr. Piechowski understands the impact of intergenerational traumas which affect American Indian communities and the healing required to heal these emotional wounds. This healing within Diné communities requires positive relationship building (i.e. K’é), effective communication, and overall health and wellness (i.e. Hoózhó – a balanced life). She envisions the Hozho Center as an intentional community that integrates traditional and contemporary Diné knowledge, practices, and philosophy to heal and sustain future generations.
Tara E Roche
Navajo Sheep Project
Tara E Roche has been raising Navajo-Churro since 2011. She is a member of the Mentor Flock Program, providing animals and expertise in Navajo-Churro breeding and health management to Dine’ and Latinx shepherds on the reservation and surrounding areas. Tara has served as President of the NSP since March of 2016. She is a strong believer that education and community outreach are of vital importance for the sustainability and continued success of the Project. Since joining the board, Tara has considered a permanent home for the Project and the revitalization of its nucleus flock breeding program to be of utmost importance. The rare opportunity provided by the Hózhó Center at Borrego Pass would fulfill this dream. Centrally located and with a strong history, it presents a unique prospect to be home for a new nucleus flock, instrumental in the preservation of the Navajo-Churro sheep and its genetic variability. Tara knows these sacred sheep are instrumental to the principles of Hózhó and K’e’ and is deeply moved to be a part of this important work. She likes to say, “I came for the sheep, but I stayed for the People. There is a spirituality in the relationship between Navajo-Churro and the Dine’ shepherds that raise them that one cannot fully comprehend or appreciate until it is witnessed.”
Yá’át’ééh, Diné shik’éíí. Nanabah Foguth dashi jiní. My name is Nanabah Foguth. Shimá éí Charlotte Kahn wólyé. Shizhé’é éí John wólyé. Dooné’é nishłínígíí éí Tó’áhéedlíínii nishłí. Táchii’nii iii báshishchíín. Bit’ahnii dah shicheii. Biligáanaa dah shinálí. Lók’aach’égaidí shiyaahoo’a’. I grew up in Lukachukai, Arizona. I am speaking from Houck, Arizona. I currently support the development of the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program, a global Baha’i-Inspired educational program aimed at the moral empowerment of its participants; within the context of rural Navajo Nation. In the last decade working with the Navajo Nation’s young people and their families brings me the greatest joy to see agents of change emerge at the level of the family. My ultimate goal is to spread the conviction that, even if one felt like they didn’t go to a “good primary school”, one possesses the intellectual ability and the spiritual resilience can make up for lost time and advance in a process of spiritual and moral empowerment. My biggest aspiration is to collaborate with indigenous populations on how to enhance capacity to contribute to the transformation of society.
Dr. Lyle McNeal
Founder of NSP
Lyle G. McNeal served as a 1st Lt. pilot and Squadron Operations Officer in the U.S. Air Force for 2848th MATS squadron for 3 ½ years, and received Honorable Discharge in 1961 and the USAF Airman’s Medal for Valor for a daring air rescue of crew from a downed aircraft. Ph.D. in Reproductive Physiology and Range Science from Utah State University, In 1977 he founded the Navajo Sheep Project, with plans to rescue from near extinction the original “churro” or “old type Navajo sheep” that was and still sacred and important for the Navajo traditions and culture. The Navajo Sheep Projectsucceeded locating “churro” remnants in various remote areas all over the Navajo Nation during the first 25 years of the NSP. Through his application of appropriate selection on the important genetic traits of the “churro” he increased numbers into the hundreds and started returning them to the Dine’ shepherds and weavers in 1982. In addition McNeal was asked in 1984 to assist and work with the Ramah Navajo Weavers Association, with their shepherds, flocks and artisan weavers. He also conducted shearing and wool classing schools there until 1990. In 1984 Lyle was kindly adopted into the Goldtooth and Mary Begay Family of Jeditoh, Arizona, which is one of the most wonderful blessings of his passion in serving the Dine’. In 1986 he was one who led to the founding of the National Navajo-Churro Sheep Association, which today has over 5,000 registered sheep in its books. His over 43 years of pioneering work in genetic conservation of domestic animals with the Navajo-Churro sheep, and outreach education in the Intermountain West and on the Navajo Nation has brought national and international recognition to that program. Dr. McNeal also imported the first number of South African Boer Goats into the United States. He took many of their offspring to assist with Navajo shepherds in order to implement improved grazing practices as well as a very important meat producer and alternative to harvesting the rare Navajo-Churro sheep. Lyle and his wife, Nancy have been married for 58+ year, have eight children (4 boys & 4 girls), a Navajo foster daughter and sixteen (16) grandchildren. Next to his wonderful and loving family, the words that “Extinction is Forever” is key to his life of respecting all species and breeds of domestic and wild animals.
Shawn is a Instuctor at the Navajo Technical University in Crownpoint, NM Shawn is a mechanic by trade but see this trade as a person who find solution to problems. Shawn commitment to Hozho center is networking and creating valuable connection in the community and advising Hozho center from his traditional beliefs system of conducting business with indigenous nations.
Dominique Daye Hunter
Dominique Daye Hunter (Black/Sappony/Irish/Polish descent) is the Hozho Center copywriting consultant. A community organizer and Indigenous peoples advocate, Dominique has a BS in Nonprofit Leadership Management with an emphasis in American Indian Studies from Arizona State University.
Film and Photography Director
Alex Piechowski (Diné) is a community advocate, cultural coach with Earth Guardians, and connects NSP with Indigenous youth leaders on environmental issues. Alex was an onsite supporter at Standing Rock, SD
Elder, Staff Support
Terrell (he/him/his) is a board member and dedicated supporter of the Navajo Sheep Project, Diné Be’ Iina, and the Hozho Center. Raised on a small family farm in Minnesota, Terrell has used this knowledge to work with the Navajo Nation and the Zuni Pueblo for forty years as a teacher, counselor, school psychologist and director of a Native cooperative. A father of six children and eleven grandchildren, Terrell brings his elder wisdom and experience to the Hozho Center.
Founding Member of NSP
Nancy (she/her/hers), co-founder of Navajo Sheep Project, is a writing specialist, art teacher, storyteller, and grant writer. Nancy currently assists the NSP board with community networking and public relations and remains an instrumental team member in sustaining the mission of the Navajo Sheep Project.
Digital Marketing Specialist, Raising Indigenous Leadership
Chamisa, a recent graduate of Fort Lewis College with a BA in Business Administration with a focus in Marketing, is the cofounder ot K'é Krew, a Covid-19 aid program to help struggling indigenous people. Chamisa brings her area of expertise in social media marketing to the Ho’zho’ Center. Chamisa is a Dine’ woman who is using her traditional and contemporary knowledge and skills to the development of the Ho’zho’ Cener.
Lar Thomas, attorney at law, is a consultant for NSP, a member of the New Mexico Environment Department taskforce arbitrator, and mediator and settlement facilitator for New Mexico judicial courts.
Bradley Kuluris is an NSP Executive Mentor with expertise in executive leadership, development and strategy, conflict resolution, and executive team building. As a franchise owner of a $40 million business, Brad has a plethora of entrepreneurial experience which includes investment banking, business consulting, and real estate development.