Black Mesa Water Coalition


Who We Are

  • Jihan GearonExecutive DirectorJihan picture
  • Roberto NutlouisGreen Economy CoordinatorRoberto picture
  • Wahleah JohnsBlack Mesa Solar Project ManagerWahleah picture
  • Marshall Johnson Field Organizer with To Nizhoni AniMarshall picture
  • Tony SkrelunasBoard ChairJihan picture
  • Enei BegayeBoard Vice ChairRoberto picture
  • Caitlin SislinBoard SecretaryWahleah picture
  • Louise Benally Board MemberMarshall picture
  • ClaytonThomas-Muller Board MemberMarshall picture
Go to Advisory Council
Jihan Gearon(Diné) - Executive Director

Jihan is Diné (Navajo) and African American. She is Tódích’ií’nii (Bitter Water) clan, and her maternal grandfather is Tl’ashchí’í (Red Bottom People) clan. Jihan’s family is from the community of Old Sawmill and she grew up and went to high school close by in Fort Defiance, located on the eastern part of the Navajo reservation in Arizona. She is a graduate of Stanford University with a Bachelors of Science in Earth Systems and a focus in Energy Science and Technology. Throughout her career Jihan as worked to build the capacity and collective strength of Indigenous communities throughout North America who are impacted by energy development and climate change first in her position as Coordinator of the Native Energy & Climate Campaign at the Indigenous Environmental Network, and now as Executive Director of the Black Mesa Water Coalition. She is a board member of smartMeme and has served on the Coordinating Committee of the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, the Steering Committee of the Environmental Justice & Climate Change Initiative, and various other climate justice alliances. In these roles, Jihan has led broad coalitions of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities and organizations in connecting the issues of energy development in Indigenous communities to larger social justice movements and common strategies. Email her.

Roberto Nutlouis(Diné) - Green Economy Coordinator

Roberto is Dine (Navajo) from the community of Pinon, AZ. He is of the Todichinii (Bitter Water) clan, born for To' Tsoni (Big Water) clan. Roberto has been active for many years on environmental justice, food security, energy efficient housing and indigenous youth leadership development through his involvement with Native Movement, Indigenous Youth Coalition of Pinon, Black Mesa Water Coalition and Indigenous Community Enterprises. Roberto received his Bachelors of Science in Applied Indigenous Studies from Northern Arizona University (NAU) in 2005, and he is currently pursuing a Masters of Arts in Sustainable Communities from NAU. In his spare time, he likes to work on food security issues and traditional knowledge in agriculture with local Native youth, and he enjoys hiking, river rafting, camping, and reading. Email him.

Wahleah Johns(Diné) - Black Mesa Solar Project Manager

Wahleah comes from the Navajo (Dine) Nation and the community of Forest Lake, one of several communities atop Black Mesa. She is a founding member of BMWC as well as its longest lasting employee. In her several years at BMWC she has played various roles, all which have led to groundbreaking legislative victories for groundwater protection, green jobs, and environmental justice. In her most recent position as BMWC’s Black Mesa Solar Project Coordinator, Wahleah is working out of the bay area in California to gain organizational expertise and support for transitioning Black Mesa’s reclaimed mining lands to solar farms. Email her.

Marshall Johnson(Diné) - Field Organizer with To Nizhoni Ani

Marshall is Dine (Navajo) originally from Forest Lake, Arizona. He is a co-founder and current organizer with To Nizhoni Ani (TNA), based out of Black Mesa on the reservation. TNA is a sister organization to BMWC that focuses on community education and engagement atop Black Mesa. Email him.

Tony Skrelunas(Diné) - Board Chair

Tony is the Native America Program Director for the Grand Canyon Trust (GCT), based out of Flagstaff, AZ. In this role Tony coordinates GCT’s work with tribes, communities, and non- governmental organizations on conservation and sustainable development projects. Tony has spent over 20 years working on sustainable economic development on the Navajo Nation. He not only served as Executive Director of the Navajo Nation Economic Development Division and Government Development Office, but he was also a partner in Horizon Springs Partnership. Currently a partner in Southwest Tradition Log Homes, Tony is Board President for the Navajo Nation Shopping Centers, Inc., a $40M realty management company. In addition, he chairs the Native American Community Development Corporation, a nonprofit affiliate of the Native American National Bank. He successfully combines his traditional Navajo upbringing with a western education that includes a B.A. and MBA from Northern Arizona University.

Enei Begaye(Diné) - Board Vice Chair

Enei is Táchii’nii clan and born for the Tódích’ií’nii clan. She is of the Diné (Navajo) & Tohono O’odham Nations. Enei grew up on the Navajo reservation. She is a recognized advocate of Indigenous Peoples rights, youth, and environmental justice. She is an experienced grassroots organizer and active speaker, strategist, and writer. Enei has been a long time leader locally, regionally and nationally for Indigenous Peoples rights, environmental and economic justice. Among other recognitions, Enei has been named one of Utne Reader’s “50 Visionaries Who are Changing Your World”. Enei recently resigned from over five years as the Executive Director of the Black Mesa Water Coalition, a non-profit Indigenous organization working to address environmental, climate and economic justice issues affecting the peoples of the southwest. She remains an active board member of the organization and a committed organizer towards building a better world.

Caitlin Sislin - Board Secretary

Caitlin is currently the North American Director at the Women’s Earth Alliance, based out of Berkeley, CA. In her career in public interest environmental law, Caitlin has worked with Natural Resources Defense Council; Earthjustice; the Center for Law, Energy and Environment; and Argentina's Center for Human Rights and Environment. As an Associate Attorney at the Law Offices of Stephan C. Volker, Caitlin oversaw the initiation of a lawsuit against the United States Environmental Protection Agency for violations of federal pesticide laws. As a law student at U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law, Caitlin chaired the Environmental Law Society and coordinated the first annual Environmental Justice Symposium. Her article “Exempting Department of Defense from Federal Hazardous Waste Laws: Resource Contamination as 'Range Preservation” was published in Ecology Law Quarterly, one of the nation’s foremost environmental law journals. Caitlin is a student of herbal medicine, and her poem entitled “The Nation Waits” appears in Imagining Ourselves, an anthology of women's art and writing published by the International Museum of Women.

Louise Benally(Diné) - Board Member

Louise is a Diné mother, grandmother, activist, educator and lifelong resister of relocation and coal mining at Big Mountain on Black Mesa. Louise and her family have been resisting relocation from Big Mountain since the late 1970′s and are well known regionally, nationally, and internationally as defenders of Mother Earth and advocates of environmental justice. Louise has been a member of BMWC’s Advisory Committee for most of BMWC’s existence and joined our Legal Board in January 2012.

Clayton Thomas-Muller(Cree) - Board Member

Clayton Thomas-Muller, of the Mathias Colomb Cree Nation also known as Pukatawagan in Northern Manitoba, Canada, is an activist for Indigenous rights and environmental justice. With his roots in the inner city of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada,Clayton began his work as a community organizer, working with Aboriginal youth. Over the years Clayton work has taken him to five continents across our Mother Earth. Based out of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Clayton is involved in many initiatives to support the building of an inclusive movement for Energy and Climate Justice. He serves on the board of the Global Justice Ecology Project and Canadian based Raven Trust. Recognized by Utne Magazine as one of the top 30 under 30 activists in the United States and as a Climate Hero 2009 by Yes Magazine, Clayton is the tar sands campaign organizer for the Indigenous Environmental Network. He works across Canada, Alaska and the lower 48 states with grassroots indigenous communities to defend against the sprawling infrastructure that includes pipelines, refineries and extraction associated with the tar sands, the largest and most destructive industrial development in the history of mankind.

BMWC Advisory Council
  • Kelvin Long (Diné) – Co-founder BMWC and founder of ECHOES – protecting sacred sites.
  • Louise Benally, (Diné) – Big Mountain resident of Black Mesa. Grandmother & long-time resister to Black Mesa relocation efforts.
  • Marie Gladue, (Diné) – Big Mountain resident. Grandmother & sustainable community planning graduate student.
  • Gloria Johns (Diné) – Black Mesa resident. Grandmother & retired Navajo educator; Navajo School Districts Principal.
  • Billy Parish – Founder of Energy Action Coalition – national network of students.
  • Candice Lomahaftewa (Hopi) – BMWC Co-founder and herbalist.
  • Bucky Preston (Hopi/ Male elder) – Longtime advisor and Hopi spiritual leader.
  • Leonard Gilmore (Diné) – Navajo community planner with current work in developing the largest wind farm in Arizona on the Navajo reservation.
  • Shonto Begay (Diné) – Local and nationally acclaimed artist, illustrator, writer and speaker.
  • Chelsea Chee, (Diné) – Youth Leadership Development Coordinator. University of Arizona graduate, current University of New Mexico Graduate Student in rural development and public administration, and long-time BMWC organizer.
  • Julius Badoni (Diné) – Participant in BMWC's 1st Southwest Indigenous Leadership Institute. Recent graduate of Arizona State University and community organizer in the Phoenix metropolitan area.