The Institute brings together acclaimed Diné writers and authors to serve as faculty mentors. We also collaborate with institutions like the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the Northern Arizona University to bring non-Diné writers and authors to campus. EDWI participants study with these faculty mentors in poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, journalism, song writing, and much more. Faculty mentors also include Diné medicine people who share cultural stories.
2021 EDWI Faculty Mentors and Visiting Writers
Damon Begay is Tótsohnii born for Naakai Dine’é; his maternal grandparents are the Naaneesht’ézhi Táchii’nii and his paternal grandparents are the Tsénjíkiní. Originally from Shiprock, New Mexico, he now resides in Phoenix, Arizona with his wife and cat. Begay grew up watching WB kids cartoons every Saturday morning, playing with Yu-Gi-Oh cards, and creating superhero comic universes with his friends under an imagined comic company they called Danger Comics, the real DC. As an independent comic artist, Begay continues to draw and post comics on his Instagram. He is currently experimenting with webcomics.
Jolyana Begay-Kroupa is Táchii’nii born for Tsinaajinii; her maternal grandparents are the Tł’ááshchí’í and her paternal grandparents are the Yée’ii Dine’é Táchii’nii. She is from Ts’iłdiilyesiitah (Rabbitbrush) near Fort Defiance, Arizona. She honorably served as the 50th Miss Navajo Nation (2001-2002). She currently resides in the Phoenix-Metro area where she is a Director of Development for Phoenix Indian Center specializing in language and culture revitalization and prevention programs. She has a Master of Arts in Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education with an emphasis in American Indian Education Policy and a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education with a Navajo language endorsement, both from Arizona State University. In addition to her work at Phoenix Indian Center, she currently teaches Navajo language classes at Arizona State University and Stanford University. She has also taught for Harvard University and Yale University. Language learning is her passion and she is an advocate on the importance of language revitalization. She is married and has three beautiful children.
Esther Belin is Tł’ógí born for Tódích’íinii; her maternal grandparents are the Kin Łichíi’nii and her paternal grandparents are the Táchii’nii. She was born in Gallup, New Mexico, and raised in the Los Angeles area as part of the legacy following the U.S. Indian relocation policy. Belin has degrees from the University of California-Berkeley, the Institute of American Indian Arts, and Antioch University. Her 1999 poetry collection, From the Belly of My Beauty, won the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation. Her second book, Of Cartography, was published in 2017. In addition to writing, Belin is a multimedia artist, and her art is featured on her two book covers.
Kevin Belin is Tódích’íinii born for Tł’ógí; his maternal grandparents are the Ta’neeszhahnii and his paternal grandparents are the Chishí. He is director of the Diné Bizaad Institute, a Navajo language teacher at Navajo Preparatory School, an adjunct instructor with Diné College’s Navajo Cultural Arts Program and owner of Hashké – Hozhó Design and Collaborative. Belin has been in the education field for nearly a decade working with fellow teachers, consultants, and language instructors to perpetuate the Navajo language and culture through curriculum building, trainings, and presentations. Belin has been featured on Native America Calling, American Indian Republic, 21st Century Native Leaders podcast and Indian Country Today as a cultural representative and is a Billy Mill’s Running Strong Dreamstarter.
Will Cordeiro teaches creative writing workshops and interdisciplinary seminars for Northern Arizona University's Honors College. Will's work is published or forthcoming in AGNI, Bennington Review, Cimarron Review, The Cincinnati Review, Copper Nickel, The Threepenny Review, THRUSH, and elsewhere. Will’s collection Trap Street won the 2019 Able Muse Book Award. Will is also co-author of Experimental Writing: A Writers' Guide and Anthology, forthcoming from Bloomsbury. Will co-edits the small press Eggtooth Editions and is grateful for a grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts. Will received an MFA and Ph.D. from Cornell University.
Stacie Denetsosie is Todích'íí'nii born for Naakaii Dine’é; her maternal grandparents are the Tł'ízí lání and her paternal step-grandparents are Bilagáana. She is from Kayenta, Arizona but currently resides in Logan, Utah. She works at Utah State University, where she holds two degrees: a B.S. in English with a Creative Writing Emphasis and M.A. in English and Literature Studies. Stacie recently graduated with her M.F.A in Fiction from the Institute of American Indian Arts. Stacie is a member of Saad Bee Hózhǫ́: Diné Writers’ Collective. Her work has appeared in Yellow Medicine Review, Phoebe Magazine, and Blossoms as the Cliffrose: Mormon Legacies and the Beckoning Wild via Torrey House Press. Stacie is at work on a short-story collection titled The Indigenous Odyssey.
Julie Fiveash is Kinyaa’áanii born for Naakai Dine’é. Their maternal grandfather’s clan is Táchii’nii and their paternal grandfather’s clan is Bilagaana. Julie’s pronouns are they/them/theirs and they identify as non-binary. They are from Yuma, Arizona and currently reside in Los Angeles. They received their B.A. in Studio Art from Dartmouth College. Their experience in college creating zines and publishing comics in the college newspaper encouraged them to keep making comics and they moved to San Francisco shortly after graduating. There, they managed a comic book store while traveling to sell their work at zinefests and comic festivals. Their work has been featured in two Dirty Diamond comic collections and has been a featured artist on the “Baylies.” They’ve moderated panels at the Queer Comics Conference in 2019 and was recently featured in “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, & Quarantine: Recipe Comics for Social Distancing.” They just finished their MLIS degree at UCLA’s Department of Information Studies and continues to make art and comics.
Nia Francisco is Tł’ááshchí’í born for ‘Áshįįhí; her maternal grandparents are the Kinyaa’áanii and her paternal grandparents are the Ta’neeszahnii. She has published two books of poetry: Blue Horses for Navajo Women (1988) and Carried Away by the Black River (1994). She has also co-edited with Anna Lee Walters “Navajo Traditional Knowledge” in The Sacred: Ways of Knowledge, Sources of Life (1977). Francisco has received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts as well as recognition from the Arizona Commission on the Arts. She has taught at the Navajo Community College in Shiprock, New Mexico, served as an educator around the Navajo Nation, and worked in Tribal Family Services, Division of Social Services, for about twelve years.
Danielle Geller is Tsi’naajinii, born for Bilagáana. Her first book, Dog Flowers, was published by One World/Penguin Random House in 2021. Winner of a 2016 Rona Jaffe Writers’ Award, her work has appeared in Guernica, The Paris Review Daily, The New Yorker, Brevity, and Arizona Highways. She teaches creative writing at the University of Victoria and is a faculty mentor for the Institute of American Indian Arts.
Veronica Golos is the author of four poetry collections: A Bell Buried Deep (Story Line Press, winner of the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize), Vocabular of Silence (Red Hen Press, winner of the New Mexico Book Award), Rootwork (3:A Taos Press), and Girl (Awarded the Naji Naaman Honor Prize for Poetry, Beirut, Lebanon). Golos is the founding co-editor of the Taos Journal of International Poetry & Art, former poetry editor for the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, faculty for the Tupelo Press Writers Conference, and Acquisitions Consultant for 3:A Taos Press. She lives in Taos, New Mexico with her husband, David Perez.
Stephanie G’Schwind is editor-in-chief of Colorado Review and director of The Center for Literary Publishing at Colorado State University. She is also editor of the nonfiction anthologies Man in the Moon: Essays on Fathers & Fatherhood and Beautiful Flesh: A Body of Essays.
Lawrence Lenhart studied writing at the University of Pittsburgh and holds an MFA from the University of Arizona. He is the author of the essay collections The Well-Stocked and Gilded Cage (Outpost19), Of No Ground (WVU), and Backvalley Ferrets: A Rewilding of the Colorado Plateau (Georgia). He is the co-author, with William Cordeiro, of Experimental Writing: A Writer's Guide and Anthology (Bloomsbury). He is Associate Chair and Associate Professor of English at Northern Arizona University, where he teaches fiction, nonfiction, literary editing and publishing, and climate science narratives in the MFA Program. Lenhart is editor-in-chief of Carbon Copy, reviews editor of DIAGRAM, and President of the Northern Arizona Book Festival.
Manny Loley is ‘Áshįįhi born for Tó Baazhní’ázhí; his maternal grandparents are the Tódích’íi’nii and his paternal grandparents are the Kinyaa’áanii. Loley is from Casamero Lake, New Mexico. He holds an M.F.A. in fiction from the Institute of American Indian Arts and he is a current Ph.D. candidate in English and literary arts at the University of Denver. Loley is a member of Saad Bee Hózhǫ́: Diné Writers’ Collective and director of the Emerging Diné Writers’ Institute. He is also the program coordinator for Six Directions: Indigenous Creative Writing Program through Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver, CO. His work has found homes in the Massachusetts Review, the Santa Fe Literary Review, Broadsided Press, the Yellow Medicine Review, and the Diné Reader: an Anthology of Navajo Literature, among others. His writing has been nominated for Pushcart Prizes by Broadsided Press and the Santa Fe Literary Review. Loley is at work on a novel titled They Collect Rain in Their Palms.
Amber McCrary is Kin Łichíi’nii born for Naakaii Dine’é; her maternal grandparents are the ‘Áshįįhi and her paternal grandparents are the Ta’neeszahnii. She is from Shonto, Arizona. McCrary is a Diné poet, zinester, and feminist. She holds an M.F.A. in poetry from Mills College in Oakland, California. McCrary is the author of the chapbook Electric Deserts (Tolsun Books). She is the 2020 EDWI Lead Author and the core faculty for poetry.
Jade McLellan (she/her) is the Poetry Editor for the Santa Fe Literary Review. A Santa Fe Community College alumna, Jade began as an intern with the Review in 2017 and has been an editor since 2018. She is currently a senior at the University of New Mexico in the departments of Biology and Sustainability Studies. When not playing TTRPGs or nerding out about cheese, Jade can be found deep in a book, preferably with tea and her cat close by.
tanner menard is a poet & composer, a Louisiana Creole & a member of the Atakapa Ishak Nation. They have published ten albums of ambient music, a chapbook & have been three times nominated for a Pushcart Prize. In 2019, The Wire Magazine called their collaborative chapbook & album with Andrew Weathers an influential modern composition. They are an MFA Candidate at Northern Arizona University, an organizer for Equality Arizona & a Kundalini Yoga Instructor.
Jay Mercado (he/they) is a 2Spirit Piipaash and Quechan recording artist and poet, and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Community residing in Flagstaff, Arizona. In February 2021 they released their debut EP of recorded music entitled Dysphoria. Jay is a 2020 graduate of the MFA in Creative Writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts.
Chael Moore is Ts’ahyisk’idnii, born for Honagháanii, her maternal grandparents are To’ahaní, and her paternal grandparents are To’aheedliinii. She is an undergraduate student at Arizona State University studying Creative Writing with a focus in fiction. Her work is inspired by her identity as a contemporary Diné woman, Indigenous futures, Diné culture, and more. Moore’s work has been featured in ASUNow, Lux Creative Review, Turning Points Magazine, and is being exhibited at the Museum of Northern Arizona. She is originally from Crystal, NM on the Navajo Nation and currently resides on Akimel O’odham and Peeposh lands, also known as Tempe, AZ.
Sean Sam is Bilagáana born for Tsi’naajínii. Naasht'ezhi Dine’é is his paternal grandparent’s clan. He holds a M.S. in Professional Writing from Towson University. He is an editor and founder of Ligeia Magazine, a literary website based out of Baltimore. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Malahat Review, The Westchester Review, Salt Hill, RED Ink, and Potomac Review, among other places. He currently resides in Maryland.
Jake Skeets is Tsi’naajínii born for Tábąąhá; his maternal grandparents are the Táchii’nii and his paternal grandparents are the Tódík’ózhí. Skeets is from Vanderwagen, New Mexico. He is the author of Eyes Bottle Dark with a Mouthful of Flowers, winner of the 2018 National Poetry Series. He holds an M.F.A. in poetry from the Institute of American Indian Arts. His honors include a 92Y Discovery Poetry Prize and 2020 Whiting Award. He is a member of Saad Bee Hózhǫ́: Diné Writers’ Collective. Skeets is an Assistant Professor and teaches at Diné College in Tsaile, Arizona.
Jessica Tanck lives and writes in Salt Lake City, where she is a Vice Presidential Fellow and doctoral student in poetry at the University of Utah. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Blackbird, Colorado Review, DIAGRAM, the Los Angeles Review, Meridian, New Ohio Review, and elsewhere.
Dr. Laura Tohe is Tsénahabiłnii born for the Tódich’inii. She grew up at the base of the Chuska Mountains in Crystal, New Mexico. Dr. Tohe earned her B.A. from the University of New Mexico and her M.A. and Ph.D. in creative writing and literature from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. Dr. Tohe is the author of Making Friends with Water; No Parole Today (named Poetry Book of the Year by the Wordcraft Circle of Native American Writers and Storytellers); Sister Nations: Native American Women Writers on Community, co-edited with Heid Erdrich; Tseyí Deep in the Rock, in collaboration with photographer, Stephen Strom (received the Arizona Book Association’s Glyph Award for Best Poetry and Best Book); and Code Talker Stories. The Phoenix Symphony commissioned her to write the libretto for “Enemy Slayer, A Navajo Oratorio,” which made its 2008 world premiere as part of the Phoenix Symphony’s 60th anniversary. A compact disc recording of “Enemy Slayer” is on the Naxos classical music label. It received rave reviews by the Arizona Republic and was called “a triumph” by Opera Today. Her other awards include the Dan Schilling Public Scholar Award by the Arizona Humanities. Dr. Tohe is professor emeritus for Arizona State University and she is the current Navajo Nation Poet Laureate. Dr. Tohe was also named a 2020 Poet Laureate Fellow by the Academy of American Poets.
Harry Walters is a scholar, archaeologist, historian, Diné cultural consultant, teacher, and former director of the Diné College Historical Museum, which he held for 35 years before retiring in 2008. He attended the Institute of American Indian Arts, the Kansas City Art Institute, and the College of Santa Fe. Walters is from Cove, Arizona.
Dr. Jennifer Wheeler is Yoo’í Dine’é born for Kin Yaa’áanii; her maternal grandparents are the Kin Yaa’áani and her paternal grandparents are the Tó Dích’íí’nii. She is originally from Many Farms, Arizona, but resides in Window Rock with her family. Dr. Wheeler has been an educator of Navajo language, English, Humanities, and American Indian Studies for over twenty years. She earned her B.S. degree in Secondary Education with an emphasis in English and Navajo from Northern Arizona University, and both M.A. and Ph.D. in English from Arizona State University. She is Interim Dean of Graduate Studies at Navajo Technical University. Dr. Wheeler is a former Miss Navajo Nation 1990-91.
Tanaya Winder is an author, singer/songwriter, and motivational speaker who comes from an intertribal lineage of Southern Ute, Pyramid Lake Paiute, and Duckwater Shoshone Nations where she is an enrolled citizen. She is a 2016 National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development “40 Under 40” list of emerging American Indian leaders recipient. Winder co-founded As/Us: A Space for Women of the World, a literary magazine publishing works by BIPOC women. Winder’s poetry collections include Words Like Love and Why Storms are Named After People and Bullets Remain Nameless. Her specialties include youth & women empowerment, healing trauma through art, creative writing workshops, mental wellness advocacy, and “heartwork.”
Brian Young is T’áchiinii born for Ta’neeszahnii; his maternal grandparents are the T’ódích’íinii and his paternal grandparents are the T’ódik’ǫzhi. He is from Tséhootsooí (Fort Defiance, AZ) and he currently lives in Brooklyn, NY. An author and filmmaker, Young is a graduate of both Yale University with a Bachelor’s in Film Studies and Columbia University with a Master’s in Creative Writing Fiction. An enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, he grew up on the Navajo Reservation but now currently lives in Brooklyn, New York. As an undergraduate, Brian won a fellowship with the prestigious Sundance Ford Foundation with one of his feature length scripts. He has worked on several short films including Tsídii Nááts’íílid – Rainbow Bird and A Conversation on Race with Native Americans for the short documentary series produced by the New York Times. Brian is currently working on his second book with Heartdrum, an imprint of HarperCollins.