Nikki is of the Diné (Navajo) Nation and resides in Northern Arizona. Nikki received her Bachelor’s and Master’s of Forestry (emphasis in ecological restoration and traditional ecological knowledge) from Northern Arizona University (NAU). For her undergraduate and Master’s studies, she has worked extensively with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina. In addition, she is the first Diné woman to receive a commercial river guide license to work on the Colorado River-Grand Canyon and San Juan River, and was the first Native American President and Vice-President of the Grand Canyon River Guides Association (GCRG). She is very passionate about advocating for and educating about the protection and preservation of the environment and its resources. Nikki fluently speaks her Diné language and studies her culture, and is committed to encouraging people to continue the path of holistic respect and knowledge towards the care of our relatives on Mother Earth and Father Sky.
Professionally, she works as the co-manager of ITEP’s Tribes & Climate Change Program and interim assistant director of ITEP, whose goal is to strengthen tribal capacity and sovereignty in environmental and natural resource management through culturally relevant education, research, partnerships, and policy-based services. She works across the continental US and Alaska on outreach and trainings related to climate-change adaptation, mitigation, and resilience planning with Tribal/Indigenous partners to assist Tribal Nations in addressing and preparing for climate change impacts. ITEP works in partnership with various federal, nonprofit, academic, and community entities. In addition, she serves as an author on the Human Health Chapter for the upcoming fifth National Climate Assessment (NCA) and was most recently featured as a speaker for the 2022 The Climate Reality Project training founded by Vice President Al Gore.