With Love and Gratitude: Nathana Bird

Our beloved associate director Nathana Bird (Ohkay Owingeh and Kewa Pueblo) will complete her work with Tewa Women United on August 22, 2022, and then step into a new position as the Director of the Native American Center at Northern New Mexico College.

We are sad to see Nathana leave but also know she is following her heart’s calling, and we are certain that our whole community will benefit from her extraordinary leadership and skills.

Nathana’s history with Tewa Women United is long and filled with many contributions and joyful moments. She first became involved with the organization in 2007 as a board member. Even before this official engagement, though, she crossed paths with TWU earlier as a youth organizer in Northern New Mexico and regionally through various youth organizations, focused primarily on environmental justice issues and education.

In 2014, Nathana transitioned to staff as the Coordinator of the A’Gin Healthy Sexuality & Body Sovereignty Project and was later promoted to the position of Program Manager for the Women’s Leadership and Economic Freedom Program. She has been TWU’s Associate Director since 2019, working closely alongside Executive Director Dr. Corrine Sanchez to support staff and strengthen the organization’s infrastructure. Nathana has brought many gifts to this position: analytical and organizing skills, compassion, a strong grounding in community and culture, and a deep commitment to young people and their development.

We invited Nathana to reflect on her time with Tewa Women United. She wrote:

“I am most proud of being able to implement the A’Gin Healthy Sexuality & Body Sovereignty Project in local schools across Northern New Mexico serving over 500 youth since 2014. This project allowed me to work with amazing teams of facilitators who showed up consistently for Indigenous youth. I helped to refine processes and procedures that ensure we serve the youth with the best skills and knowledge and created learning experiences with the young people that they will hopefully carry with them as they walk their journey of life. This project helped to create conversations in the community and families that we often shy away from, breaking the silence on sexual health education, intergenerational trauma and community healing.

I also appreciated being able to successfully host summer programs with staff for local youth. These are moments in my life where I felt that I was able to build connections with the youth, share my knowledge and ensure they had spaces where they felt safe to be themselves.”

In her new position at Northern New Mexico College, Nathana will be instrumental in guiding the development of the Native American Center, advocating for Indigenous studies, shaping services to Native American students, and engaging our Pueblo communities in a more active role within the structure of the college. It’s hard to imagine anyone better suited to this role. Nathana reflects,

“TWU has provided me with an abundance of growth and nourishment of my mind, heart, and spirit over the years of my life. It is through this growth that I have come to a place where I recognize the work that enlivens my spirit and that’s working with students.

In my new role at Northern New Mexico College, I will serve as the Director of the Native American Center. In this capacity, it is my hope to continue building the support and knowledge systems that our Native students of NNMC need to fully live out their best lives. Elder Kathy Sanchez has taught us that each of us are pillars in our community and though I am not a TWU Staff member, I will still be in the community upholding my responsibility to being a pillar to support our community.”

We will greatly miss Nathana but know that she is not far from us and that she will continue to be a guiding light in our community. We’ll leave the last words for her:

“I am honored to be able to work alongside such powerful and inspiring community members, who are dedicated to the community and give their heart in all the work they do. I am also thankful for the friendships and connections that have been created out of my role with TWU over the years. It is my hope to continue to nourish these relations in my new role. We need each other to continue the ‘heart work’ as Kathy and Corrine would say. That’s how a community works. 

It has been a true honor to be able to serve and contribute to Tewa Women United and I carry with me the teaching and knowledge as I take this new path in my life. Kuu’daa woe haa and much appreciation for the relational-tivity that all TWU staff, TWU board members, the Saa’yaa-ing (Circle of Grandmothers), youth and community members have given me over the years.”

– Nathana Bird