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President-elect Buu Nygren announces key Executive Branch appointments


PHOTO: Navajo Nation President-elect Dr. Buu Nygren and Vice President-elect Richelle Montoya.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 9, 2023


WINDOW ROCK, Navajo Nation — Navajo Nation President-elect Dr. Buu Nygren named his top officials charged with leading the divisions and departments within the Executive Branch on Monday.


“We have chosen a team of executive directors that will carry out the fullest vision of building a more resilient and independent Navajo Nation. In selecting these leaders, we have not only secured their commitment and expertise in building solutions for the issues facing our people, but I have also committed my support for their immense wealth of institutional knowledge that will allow us to hit the ground running. Through our extensive interview and vetting process, we have given every person who applied our consideration of their background and their vision. This is the team that will lead us forward as a Nation,” said President-elect Nygren.


President-elect Nygren's naming of his full cabinet of experienced and vetted appointments ahead of the 2023 Navajo Nation Inauguration establishes an unprecedented commitment to the Navajo People to an uninterrupted transfer of power.


President-elect Nygren named the following appointees to his Navajo Nation Executive Branch division director positions, each of whom will start at noon on Tuesday, January 10:


  • Department of Justice Attorney General Ethel Branch

  • Division of Human Resources Executive Director Debbie Nez Manuel

  • Division of Public Safety Executive Director Michael Anderson

  • Division of Economic Development Executive Director Tony Skrelunas

  • Division of Natural Resources Executive Director W. Mike Halona

  • Navajo Department of Health Executive Director Kimberly Yazzie

  • Division of Community Development Executive Director Calvin Castillo

  • Environmental Protection Agency Executive Director Stephen B. Etsitty

  • Division of General Services Executive Director Shawnevan Dale

  • Division of Transportation Executive Director Garrett Silversmith

  • Division of Social Services Executive Director Thomas Cody

  • Washington Office Executive Director Justin Ahasteen

  • Navajo-Hopi Land Commission Office Executive Director Raymond Maxx

  • Telecommunications Regulatory Commission Office Executive Director Tico Charlee


All applicants were subject to a thorough background check process.


Additionally, President-elect Nygren named two key administrative appointments that will round out his cabinet:


  • Chief of Staff Patrick J. Sandoval

  • Chief Legal Counsel Bidtah Becker


"This historic effort to find the right people for these positions was driven by a clear and modern process that involved a call for applications, video conference interviews, and more than a hundred hours of follow-up work. Our team got it done and we look forward to finalizing this transition process and getting to work for the Navajo People," said Vice President-elect Richelle Montoya.


President-elect Nygren and Vice President-elect Montoya will take their oaths of office Tuesday, January 10, at the 2023 Navajo Nation Inauguration alongside the members of the 25th Navajo Nation Council, boards of education and election supervisors, and local governance commissioners.


More information on the 2023 Navajo Nation Inauguration can be found at: www.joinbuu.com/inauguration


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