Shelly selects his new chief of staff

By Marley Shebala
Navajo Times

WINDOW ROCK, October 24, 2012

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N avajo Nation President Ben Shelly named Arbin Mitchell, the Division of Community Development Director, his new chief of staff on Wednesday.

Mitchell replaces interim chief of staff Isabelle Walker, who took over temporarily when Sherrick Roanhorse unexpectedly resigned on Sept. 21 after serving as Shelly's chief of staff since he took office in January 2011.

Roanhorse was also Shelly's executive staff assistant when Shelly was vice president to President Joe Shirley Jr.

Shelly stated in a press release announcing his appointment of Mitchell, "Mr. Mitchell has a great wealth of knowledge of how the Navajo Nation government works from the chapter level to Washington. He is bringing years of experience to take our government to new heights."

Mitchell, 53, has worked for the tribal government since 1995 and was a tribal presidential candidate when Shelly sought the presidency.

Mitchell stated, "As director of the Division of Community Development, this was pivotal, to know the communities and needs. I am able to address their needs and lend support to their initiatives, utilizing available resources."

He added that his community development work experience helps him understand local, federal and tribal laws and their application to different projects.


Mitchell, who is Todichiinii (Bitter Water clan) and Ashi'hi' (Salt People clan), was born in Ganado and raised in Wide Ruins by his parents, Robert and Fannie Mitchell. His grandparents are John and Kadeebah Lynch.

He is a lifelong rancher of cattle, horses and sheep.

Shelly stated that Mitchell will assume his duties as chief of staff on Monday, Oct. 22.

Shelly's Communications Director Erny Zah said that Shelly appointed former Council Delegate Leonard Chee (Birdsprings/Leupp/Tolani Lake) to take over Mitchell's position as director of the Division of Community Development.

Chee was serving as staff assistant to Speaker Johnny Naize (Blue Gap-Tachee/Cottonwood-Tselani/Low Mountain/Nazlini/Many Farms), and was assigned to the Navajo Nation Water Rights Settlement Task Force.

Prior to serving in the Office of the Speaker, Chee was working as a staff assistant for Shelly. And before working for Shelly, he was a staff assistant in the Office of the Speaker.

As a Council delegate, Chee was the Budget and Finance Committee chairperson and was treasurer of the Indian Gaming Association.

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