2020 Laureate Dr. Tarajean Yazzie-Mintz (Diné)
Founder and Principal Consultant at First Light Education Project
Dr. Tarajean Yazzie-Mintz (Diné) is the founder and principal consultant at First Light Education Project and previously served as vice president for program initiatives at the American Indian College Fund in Denver, Colorado. In this role, she oversaw Wakanyeja, “Sacred Little Ones,” Early Childhood Education Initiative, which is rooted and grounded in Indigenous knowledge and ways of knowing. This initiative emphasizes the sacredness of children within the Indigenous community and works to ensure that those who educate and care for them are trained and supported in ways that honor and respect cultural, social, and emotional strengths, families, and communities. This undertaking strengthens the preparation of early childhood educators and caregivers, using a culturally relevant, responsive, and asset-based approach. Under Dr. Yazzie-Mintz’s leadership and vision, this initiative positively impacted the lives of more than 3,975 children, 2,398 families, and 1,185 teachers across the nation.
Nominated by: Dr. Susan C. Faircloth