June 21, 2005
New Mexico Public Education Department
300 Don Gaspar
Santa Fe, NM 87501-2786

Jennifer Chavez
Public Information Officer
(505) 476-0393
jchavez@ped.state.nm.us

New Mexico Indian Education Advisory Council Elects Officers

( Santa Fe, NM)— The New Mexico Indian Education Advisory Council (NMIEAC) elected officers at its second quarterly meeting of 2005 on April 15, 2005. The new council leaders were elected as follows: Dr. Larry W. Emerson, Chairperson; Dr. Benjamin Atencio, Vice-Chairperson; and Ms. Zelda Yazza, Secretary. Their terms of office are for two years.

Dr. Larry W. Emerson, is one of four Navajo Nation representatives on the Council. He has been an educator since 1979, when he served as the Executive Director of Shiprock Alternative School, Inc., and as a Board of Regents member for Diné College. He is a former member of the New Mexico Commission on Indian Affairs and served as an executive staff assistant to the Navajo Nation President (1989-91). Currently he is an education consultant working from his home community of Shiprock, New Mexico. Dr. Emerson has a Ph.D. in Education through a Joint Doctoral Program, San Diego State University/Claremont Graduate University, California ; and a Masters of Arts in Counseling, San Diego State University, California ; and a Bachelor of University Studies from the University of New Mexico.

Dr. Benjamin Atencio , fills the position of Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) representative to the Council, and is currently an Education Line Officer/Superintendent of Education at the Southern Pueblos Agency, BIA, in Albuquerque, NM. His experience includes local and national work in Indian Education beginning in 1981 when he worked for Bernalillo Public Schools as assistant principal, first at Santo Domingo Elementary/Junior High schools, and later at Bernalillo Middle School. With the BIA he served as a national coordinator on special projects such as the White House Conference on Indian Education before taking on his most current role in agency leadership. Dr. Atencio has a Ph.D., in Education Administration and Supervision, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona; and a Masters in Education Administration, Planning and Social Policy, from Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts; he also attended Stanford University in 1977, Political Science; Social Science, Stanford, California.

Ms. Zelda Yazza continues as the representative from the Mescalero Apache Tribe to the NMIEAC. Her commitment to the Mescalero community and the NMIEAC, ensures the stability of long term efforts that led to the legislation of the Indian Education Act (IEA). This landmark legislation resulted in the establishment of a new advisory council, on which she serves. Ms. Yazza has been a vital part of her community in a non-traditional education role by working with the tribe and local institutions of higher education to the Mescalero Apache history and culture. The knowledge and experience gained from this work benefits not only the Mescalero, but also the state as she advises PED on the implementation of the IEA and Native Language and Culture certification. Ms. Yazza attended New Mexico State University and continues to educate students on the Mescalero culture, public awareness, religion, and traditional practices of Apache people from past to present.

For more information on this meeting or other New Mexico Indian Education Advisory Council meetings the public is asked to contact Velma Sanchez, Indian Education Division, at (505) 827-6679.