To become the first lady

Parents’ words stay close to Shirley

Navajo Times | Ravonelle Yazzie
Former first lady Vikki Shirley speaks about her working life on Tuesday in Ganado, Ariz.

By Pauly Denetclaw
Navajo Times


Former Navajo Nation first lady Vikki Shirley always returns to the wise words from her parents that education was the way to success.

“I really wanted to get my education because of my father and mother,” Shirley, who is Kinyaa’aanii born for Ma’ii deeshgiizhinii, said. “They always told me to go to school and always learn as much as I can. To get as far as I could in my education.”

These were the words Shirley held onto the last two years as she worked through her master’s of business administration program at Grand Canyon University. She graduated with her MBA in January.

Shirley graduated from Chinle High and went to Diné College where she got her associate degree in accounting. Then she transferred to Northern Arizona University where she graduated with a degree in business.

She met Joe Shirley Jr. at her home where he was learning the Blessingway Ceremony from her father. They’ve been married for 28 years and have a blended family with six children. One of their daughters was tragically lost to a drunk driver in 2001.

“During those times after Diné College I started a family and started being a working mother,” she said.

After she got her degrees, she worked with Chinle Unified School District where she was an accountant and then later did some work with human resources.

Herbert-Nez wants to advocate

Navajo Times | Donovan Quintero
Phefelia Herbert-Nez, wife of candidate for president Jonathan Nez, speaks about the issues she would address if her husband is elected on Saturday in Window Rock.

By Arlyssa Becenti
Navajo Times


Second lady Phefelia Herbert-Nez knows exactly what the Office of the First Lady needs to promote and, after the office has been out of commission for the past four years, she’s more than ready to get it off the ground.

”It needs a lot of advocacy,” said Herbert-Nez. “There is so many topics and issues and I think it’s been a lot of people’s wish list of what someone could do with that office.”

As a wife of a politician, Herbert-Nez has identified issues that need to be addressed, and she believes that if her husband, Vice President Jonathan Nez, is elected president it will open a pathway for her to address these issues.

Her focus is plants, animals and children and, in a broader approach, she wants to improve libraries and literacy, adult education, and education in general from vocational education, STEM, home schooling, dual/concurrent enrollment, Navajo language and culture and cooperative extension education.

She also wants to work on outdoor recreation, tourism, parks and recreation, plant science, master gardening, teaching people how to take care of their animals, and range land management.

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Categories: Politics