Senior Program Officer
Leiloni Begaye is a Diné womxn from Dinétah, the homelands of the Diné people, an Indigenous womxn who is a farmer and rancher. Based out of First Nations’ Albuquerque office, Leiloni joined First Nations in September 2019 as a Project Assistant, and was promoted to Program Officer in 2021 and Senior Program Officer in 2023.
Prior to joining First Nations, Leiloni worked as the New Mexico state lead for FoodCorps, where she supported farm-to-school initiatives, mentored 10 local FoodCorps service members throughout New Mexico, and developed and implemented a state strategy through an Indigenous lens and K’e (relationship-centered). She was a school garden coordinator with La Semilla Food Center in the Paseo Del Norte Region (Las Cruces and Anthony, New Mexico and El Paso, Texas), and an interpretative and education ranger and field paleontologist at White Sands National Monument.
Leiloni has a diverse background in natural resources (wildlife, forestry, and rangeland management) from Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute. She has a Bachelor of Science in agriculture, with an emphasis in rangeland management from New Mexico State University, and a Master of Arts in Native American Studies from the University of New Mexico.
Leiloni is one of the original Uplifters who seeks to empower and unite young leaders to address climate change on the Colorado plateau. She is a part of the New Mexico Farm to School Alliance, New Mexico Food & Agriculture Policy Council Governing Board, Diné Farm to School and Food Policy Board, and Albuquerque Public School District School Health Advisory Council (SHAC). She is a 2018 HERD fellow with Quivira Coalition, a Student Conservation Association alumnus, and an Uplift advisor.