Suzanne Benally is Navajo and Santa Clara Tewa. She grew up in the community of Shiprock, New Mexico on the Navajo Nation.
Suzanne is the Executive Director of the Swift Foundation, a foundation dedicated to protecting biocultural diversity, regenerative land practices, local economies, and advocating for systemic changes to address the root causes of our ecological crisis.
Suzanne has worked in higher education and the non-profit sector for 35 years. She served as the Executive Director of Cultural Survival, an international Indigenous rights advocacy organization that works to support and advance Indigenous Peoples’ rights, self-determination, land, language, culture, and political resilience. Formerly, she served as the Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs at Naropa University, and was a core faculty member and previous chair of the environmental studies department. Her extensive experience spans positions devoted to social justice, diversity, and equity.
Suzanne currently chairs the International Funders for Indigenous Peoples. She is a cohort member of the Rothko Chapel’s Spirituality and Social Justice initiative to further contemporary understandings about spiritualty and social justice.
Deeply committed to social, environmental and climate justice, her work, passion, and interests center on relationships and interconnectedness between land, spirituality, culture, and people as reflected in narratives and stories past and present. In her work, she draws on her professional experience and cultural background advocating for transformative practices that address issues of racism, equity, justice, and Indigenous Peoples’ rights; and, most importantly, engaging work that draws hope now and for new generations to come. Suzanne lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.