The CHOICE Navajo Nation team is addressing both economic and nutrition challenges by rekindling the spirit of traditional farming with community-led...
CHOICE Humanitarian closes work in the Navajo Nation
CHOICE Humanitarian has made the difficult decision to close our work in the Navajo Nation. We're honored to have worked with inspiring community members.
Memo from the Board of Directors:
As part of a business restructuring plan to financially stabilize CHOICE Humanitarian and best align our international development capabilities, CHOICE has made the difficult decision to close our work in the Navajo Nation, effective December 19, 2023.
During the three years that CHOICE has served Navajo communities in the former Bennett Freeze Area in Arizona, we have had the privilege of seeing incredible stories of resilience and perseverance. CHOICE first became involved in the Navajo Nation during the COVID-19 pandemic, which hit the Nation and its community members especially hard. Our relief efforts included delivering boxes of food and PPE supplies to community members’ homes. As a result of relationships formed during that time, CHOICE made the decision in mid-2020 to establish a Navajo Nation team. This allowed CHOICE to serve in an area that was geographically close, as well as provided a way for CHOICE’s history of effective development in countries around the world to be leveraged towards the Navajo Nation’s challenges in food security and economic opportunity.
Marilyn Reed served as the initial Navajo Nation country director for CHOICE; she established field programs, served the local communities, and built out the CHOICE Navajo Nation team. In summer 2023, Robert Black succeeded Marilyn, and he brought to the country director role 27 years of experience working with Navajo Nation and Chapter governments. Both these talented and passionate leaders oversaw the construction of over 30 hoop houses (a type of greenhouse) that were supervised by local managers. These agriculture projects grew nutritious food that was shared with community members.
Unfortunately, CHOICE is currently in extremely difficult financial circumstances. Residual impacts of reduced funding from the pandemic continue to affect us, along with other factors. For CHOICE to continue operating in the service of our mission, we must urgently reduce expenses and narrow our focus to where we can be most useful and effective. In some ways, CHOICE’s international development capabilities have provided value for the challenges that Navajo communities face. In other ways, the needs and our expertise have not been parallel. One of CHOICE’s values is to be problem-driven and solution-focused. Ultimately—and perhaps especially in difficult circumstances—this may mean stepping aside in recognition that our strengths are not best fit for the needs at hand.
As we close this area of work in the Navajo Nation, we express gratitude to all who have been a part of it. Generous donors, innovative corporate partners, passionate expeditioners, supportive Navajo Nation staff, and many more have contributed to CHOICE’s efforts. Most especially, we want to recognize and appreciate the community members that we had the honor of serving. Their examples of hope and determination have been inspiring. Ahéhee’.
As always, CHOICE will use every dollar we receive to try to have the greatest impact in disrupting poverty in the countries where we work. Our efforts and results in the field are strong, and we are hopeful that our 41 years of changing lives will continue. If you are able to help CHOICE at this crucial time as we restructure our business model and stabilize our revenue, please consider making a donation.