Learn more about the desert-dwelling activists, community leaders, and big thinkers who will share their stories at Uplift.
Opening: JULIA BERNAL
Julia Bernal is an enrolled tribal member at Sandia Pueblo but is also from Taos Pueblo and the Yuchi-Creek Nation of Oklahoma. She currently works with a non-profit organization, Earth Force, which is an environmental education program that empowers youth to identify environmental concerns in their communities and how to address them through problem solving and civic action. She is also the Co-Director of Pueblo Action Alliance which is a grassroots community organization whose mission is to promote cultural sustainability by addressing environmental and social impacts in indigenous communities. Pueblo Action Alliance has participated in advocacy around protecting the Greater Chaco Landscape and other extractive activity that disrupts ancestral land, water and air.
keynote: KENDRA PINTO
Kendra Pinto is a Dinè woman living on the Navajo Nation’s Eastern Agency. Kendra is a witness, storyteller, and educator highlighting the impacts on people's health and communities brought on by natural resource extraction. She has been involved in appealing directly to the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C. to halt fracking infrastructure on Native Lands and recently testified before members of Congress about oil and gas development in her community. Kendra continues to voice her community's concerns to the Navajo Nation and US government.
Rylin Becenti is a multidisciplinary artist based out of the Navajo Reservation. She is currently pursuing her BFA in Santa Fe, New Mexico with concentrations in environmental sculpture, painting, print-making and indigenous studies.
Zaira has lived in Tucson, AZ since her family immigrated from Mexico in the early 90’s. She has organized around economic and immigration justice with immigrant rights action committee L.U.P.E., Jobs With Justice, and has recently founded People's Defense Initiative. Through these mediums, Zaira advocates for an end to repressive policies which put corporate profit before human need including: A just and humane immigration reform, an end to criminalization of immigrants and people of color, an end to border and police militarization, a national living wage, universal healthcare, and a strong and equitable public education system.
Klee Benally (Diné) is an Indigenous Anarchist, filmmaker, musician, writer, and artist from Flagstaff, AZ. Originally from Black Mesa, Klee has worked most of his life at the front lines in struggles to protect Indigenous sacred lands such as the San Francisco Peaks. He has also helped establish organizations such as Táala Hooghan Infoshop, Indigenous Action Media, Save the Peaks Coalition, Outta Your Backpack Media, Haul No!, and is currently the national coordinator for Clean Up The Mines!, an effort to address toxic contamination caused by thousands of abandoned uranium mines throughout the US.
Follow his work at:
Dr. PennElys Droz (Anishinaabe) is the mother of five and the director of Sustainable Nations, a Native led and staffed sustainable community development organization. She has worked in the Indigenous environmental field since she was 18 years old, with the vision of the re-development of thriving ecologically, culturally and economically sustainable Native Nations. She is also a writer and author of works on Indigenous engineering methodologies for resilient, culturally powerful nation-building.
Emily Arasim is a young farmer and aspiring educator and community organizer, born and raised on the Acequia Madre de Tesuque in Tesuque, New Mexico. Since 2014, she has served as the Communications Coordinator for the Women's Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) International, helping expand strategic platforms in media and storytelling, outreach, advocacy, and education. Emily is also active in her home region, where she is learning from the land, and working for the protection and continuation of traditional seed keeping, farming, and water stewardship practices. Emily is honored to be an El Puente Caucus Member and 2018 Los Sembradores Farm Apprentice with the New Mexico Acequia Association; a Youth Representative for Communities for Clean Water; and a 2017/2018 Spiritual Ecology Fellow.
Timoteio Padilla is a public health educator, organizer, and community activist working within the anti-violence movement, both on a grassroots and professional level. Timoteio organizes and engages men in social justice movements to end violence against women, and build solidarity with LGBTQ identified folks in dismantling systems of oppression, while considering intersections of privilege and power as they relate to masculinity.
Gabriel is the Colorado Plateau Representative for The Wilderness Society. He grew up in western Colorado, where his family has been in CO for 150 years. He is a Hispanic outdoor enthusiast and community activist. He used to be a chemical engineer for Haliburton but quit the oil field 5 years ago to finish college and find a career that he believed in.
Jessica Keetso is one of the organizer for Tó Nizhóní Ání (Sacred Water Speaks). She lives and works on Black Mesa, her ancestral homeland, where she farms, works on land restoration projects, trains horses, hunts with her dogs and hangs out with her humungous family. She received her degree from Northern Arizona University in Sustainability and Environmental Studies.
Nadine Narindrankura is an organizer for Tó Nizhóní Ání (Sacred Water Speaks). She has been a part of many actions and efforts to protect her homeland from resource extraction and exploitation and will continue to do so for the sake of future generations including her beautiful baby. Her style of organizing could truly be called "grassroots" because she works directly with impacted communities and prefers their involvement with issues over outside organizations.
Mikayla Johnson is an aspiring poet and writer. Her goals are to travel the world and write amazing stories. She is one of the youth volunteers for Tó Nizhóní Ání (Sacred Water Speaks), U.N.I.T.Y (United National Indian Tribal Youth) and the Tsedildoí Youth. She participates in many community-led events and has experience advocating for her home and the resources that will be necessary for her and future generations.
Nick Ashley is an organizer for Tó Nizhóní Ání (Sacred Water Speaks). He is currently collaborating with Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona campaign advocating for renewable energy and doing outreach on the Navajo Nation.
23. Taos and Jemez pueblos. Traditional seed saver, organic farmer and youth coordinator.
Reyna Banteah is from the Pueblo of Zuni in New Mexico. She started her journey in agriculture through a farmer training program called Grow the Growers in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This year she has started her own farm/business called Ts’uyya Farm which means hummingbird in Zuni language. She is focusing on using sustainable farming methods, saving native seeds adapted to the Southwest, and providing the local community with healthy food. Her goal is to help create thriving, self-sustaining agricultural communities both in Albuquerque and among our Native communities with more young entrepreneurs/farmers.
Nicole Horseherder is Dine (Navajo) activist and organiser in her community on Back Mesa. Nicole is focused on protecting the water sources of Black Mesa which has expanded into work transitioning the Navajo Nation off of Coal. Translating information on hydrology, geology, mining regulation and other technical data is an achievement Nicole is most proud of.
Tyler has been working in various forms of art, education, and activism to encourage others to consider other perspectives and connect the dots between different issues to see how they are often inter-connected. He has extensive experience in popular education, through the Common Ground Collective, the Beehive Collective, and most recently with Mutual Aid Disaster Relief, leading the "Building the Movement for Mutual Aid" Training Tours.
Payton is a Black and proud, 24-year-old abolitionist organizer living in Michigan. He likes talking about alternatives to police and prisons, while making space for festivals of resistance with his community. He spent two years traveling the west coast after dropping out of college. Off grid in rural Washington, he learned about permaculture and mutual aid, and, since then, has focused on nurturing organic relationships back home.
He’s recently celebrated having a few trumped up charges dismissed after demonstrating on Inauguration Day in DC, when over 200 people were mass arrested and threatened with life sentences for rebellion.
Leah Ayer is an anarchist, activist, photographer and documentarian. She helped form the group West Street Recovery in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and is interested in different strategies for building solidarity and how they can be leveraged towards revolution during disaster.
Olivia Nicole is a Chicago activist, community organizer, and educator interested in cultivating resilient communities capable of caring for each other and fostering collective experiences of joy and growth. From organizing marches, conducting skillshares, and supporting anti-resource extraction camps, to teaching and learning from people of all ages, Olivia is committed to seeking social and environmental justice for all people.
Diego, son of a Mexican migrant, is a first generation Chicano who has been able to call Tucson, Arizona his community and home. Diego has navigated through the spaces of being a scholar-activist focused on environmental and climate justice, energy justice, and racial justice. Diego received a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies and Geography and the University of Arizona where he is now working towards a Master’s of Art in Geography & Development. Focusing on how Latinx communities engage with critical questions of social justice, Diego’s work has been informed by his organizing, passion, and critical perspectives into the climate movement.
Olivia hails from Salt Lake City, UT as Latinx Community Organizer at the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. There, she is living out her passion for the natural world by working to amplify the voices of people of color in public lands conservation. She graduated wiht Honors from the University of Utah in 2017, where she studied Peace and Conflict and first experienced redrock wilderness and mudbathing in the San Rafael Swell with fellow students on a fall break service trip. She enjoys camping with her family, loud music, playing in the snow, yoga, and gazing at cryptobiotic soils.
LAURA schmidt & AIMEE LEWIS-REAU
LaUra Schmidt is a graduate of the University of Utah's Environmental Humanities program where she created the structure for the Good Grief Network's 10 step program. She and cofounder Aimee Lewis-Reau, who is a certified yoga instructor and holds an MFA in creative writing, offer workshops to help build community and psychosocial resilience in the face of unprecedented systemic challenges.
Anthony Smith is Navajo/Diné from Farmington, New Mexico the Land of Enchantment. His family is from Kimbeto, New Mexico. He has a Master in Social Worker from the University of Utah and has been a practicing Therapist for the American Indian populations for 25 years and other underserve population, plus he is a Practitioner in traditional ways. He has worked with all age groups in the local communities from Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. His area of expertise is working with children and families to stabilize, set goals to be achieve and for healing and to recognize and embrace their own cultural identities. His personal passion is to help families to be proud of who they are, to be proud, humble, and kind people and to take care of our own people by supporting families to achieve their goal to become happier people in this world, the total healing of themselves and their spirituality. Anthony has been a Sundance for 27 years and conducts sweat lodge and healing ceremonies plus is knowledge about traditional medicines and remedies and has an awareness about the natural environment.
Cali Bee lives, dances, organizes, and heals on the Colorado Plateau in Moab, Utah [Dine and Ute territory] with their puppet, Moose n Bootz. They enjoy resisting through building community and creating collaborative art.
Rebecca Sobel is the Senior Climate and Energy Campaigner at WildEarth Guardians and the Principal of the non-profit strategic consulting firm Action Oriented. Currently, Rebecca is working on the national Keep It in the Ground campaign to end federal fossil fuel leasing and supporting frontline and Indigenous activist networks across New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and Montana. With more than a decade of organizing experience, Rebecca has worked with Greenpeace, 350.org, and a variety of local and regional environmental and social justice groups including a stint as the Executive Director of the New Mexico Coalition for Clean Affordable Energy. Originally from Philadelphia, Rebecca has moved to the Southwest three times, gratefully calling Santa Fe, New Mexico home.