October 27, 2021
Victim Witness Services for Coconino County (VWS) and Utah Navajo Health System, Inc. (UNHS) are pleased to announce a partnership to serve victims of crime on the Navajo Nation.
With the approval and support of the Navajo Nation Council, starting January 1, 2022 VWS & UNHS will provide victim services on the Navajo Nation for victims of all crimes. In early 2021, Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty spearheaded efforts to form a working group of community stakeholders to collaborate in developing a victim services plan for the Navajo Nation. The partnership between VWS and UNHS is the result of this working group. A Resolution of the Naabik’íyáti’ Standing Committee of the 24th Navajo Nation Council was approved and signed by Honorable Seth Damon, Chairman of the Navajo Nation Council, on April 13th, 2021; recognizing Utah Navajo Health System, Inc. as a Navajo Nation authorized designee for the purpose(s) of applying for the “Office for Victims of Crime FY 2021 Tribal Victim Services Set-Aside Formula Program” and the “2021 NCAI Fund Victim Services Micro-Grant Program.” Subsequently, the applications were successful. The Tribal Resolution authorizes UNHS to contract with Victim Witness Services of Coconino County to provide services in Arizona. The project will also include services in New Mexico. VWS and UNHS have been planning, coordinating, and partnering with Regina Yazzie, Department Manager III, in the Navajo Nation Division of Social Services, in order to support, complement and not duplicate victim services across the Navajo Nation.
Services will be free, confidential and available to all victims of crimes, including domestic violence, sexual assault, families of our missing relatives, simple and aggravated assault, kidnapping, homicide and all other crimes. Victim advocates located throughout Navajo Nation will provide victim and court advocacy, case management, crisis response, safety planning and other services tailored to each client and situation.
UNHS and VWS continue to meet with the working group and Delegate Crotty to ensure that planned services meet the needs of the community. Both agencies are looking forward to starting this new initiative to provide survivors of crime across Navajo Nation with the resources and services they need to heal from the physical, emotional and mental trauma they have experienced.
Inquiries on this project may be directed to:
Jennifer Runge (Executive Director, Victim Witness Services): firstname.lastname@example.org; 928-856-7676
Sarah Young Patton (Director of Development & Programs, Victim Witness Services): email@example.com; 928-856-7676
Laurelle Sheppard (Navajo Nation Victim Services Program Director; Victim Witness Services): firstname.lastname@example.org; 928-255-8823
Leslie Gilmore (President of the Board of Directors for Victim Witness Services): email@example.com; 928-890-4658
Rick Hendy (Behavioral Health Director, Utah Navajo Health System, Inc.): firstname.lastname@example.org, (435) 651-3731
Jessica Holiday (Victim Services Program Manager, Utah Navajo Health System, Inc.): email@example.com, (435) 459-1201
Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty, firstname.lastname@example.org, 928-871-6380
Based in Flagstaff, AZ, Victim Witness Services for Coconino County (VWS), an independent, 501(c)(3) non-profit agency, has been serving victims of crime for 37 years. In addition to its main office in Flagstaff, VWS has satellite offices in Grand Canyon Village, Williams, Page and Tuba City, and served 1,798 victims of crime over the last year. VWS has a staff of 21, including 12 Victim Advocates who provide 24/7 crisis response, victim advocacy, court advocacy, case management and aftercare services, such as support groups, trauma sensitive yoga and crisis/trauma counseling. VWS’ most popular advocate, by far, is Fanta, a K-9 Advocate who provides emotional support and is trained to accompany victims, especially children, to court. She is able to help victims remain calm and feel safe when they are in the same courtroom as their abuser. All services are free and confidential to victims of crime and crisis.
In addition, VWS does community education and awareness raising for issues such as Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, provides training for community groups, and has strong internship and community volunteer programs. In 2019, the Arizona Attorney General’s office awarded the entire staff of Victim Witness Services with their Distinguished Service Award for Victim Services.
Utah Navajo Health System (UNHS) is a 501(c)(3) private not-for-profit corporation registered in the state of Utah that functions under the direction of a 100 percent Navajo Board of Directors. Given the rural location and the medically underserved population they serve, UNHS is proud to be a federally designated 330e Community Health Center system. UNHS began in 2000 as a single service corporation providing medical and dental care needs with one community health center located in Montezuma Creek, Utah and has grown to include three other health center sites located in Blanding, Monument Valley, Navajo Mountain, and one dental site in Monticello, Utah. UNHS is not part of the Indian Health Service (IHS), but maintains a working relationship with IHS via a contract created under P.L. 93-638, Title V. UNHS has made quality health care a reality for the residents of the northern strip of the Navajo Nation and southeastern Utah.
The UNHS Victim Advocacy Program began in 2016 with on Victim Advocate and is housed in the UNHS Behavioral Health Department. This program now has four Victim Advocates that serve all four UNHS health center sites. The program serves victims of crime and survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault with services such as: safety planning, court advocacy, victim advocacy, case management, crisis intervention, emotional support, and aftercare services. The program also has a 24/7 Victim Advocacy Hotline that is staffed by UNHS Victim Advocates. The Utah Navajo Health System Victim Advocacy Program was awarded the 2020-2021 Federal Bureau of Investigation Director’s Community Leadership Award. The program was also recognized by Navajo Nation Council Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty at the 2021 Navajo Nation Council Session.
Amber Kanazbah Crotty, Council Delegate – 24th Navajo Nation Council
Council Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty is a member of the 24th Navajo Nation Council and serves on the Budget and Finance Committee and Chairwoman of the Naabik’íyáti’ Sexual Assault Prevention Subcommittee. Delegate Crotty has worked diligently in strengthening responses to sexual violence, exploring data sharing and cross-deputation with outside agencies, strengthening sexual assault laws, and addressing any other issues related to sexual assault crimes on the Navajo Nation. Through the leadership of 24th Navajo Nation Council member Council Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty, a working group was created comprised of subject-matter experts from an array of Navajo programs, local sexual assault and domestic violence coalitions, and community members, tasked with developing a framework for a proposed Missing & Murdered Diné Relatives (MMDR) data institute and to create a missing persons community toolkit to empower Navajo communities to be proactive in prevention, awareness, and mobilization to recover missing relatives and provide support to families of MMDR.
Amber is of the Kinyaa’áanii Clan and her maternal grandfather is Deeshchii’nii. She is originally from Tó Halstooí (Sheep Springs, NM), and comes from a long legacy of female leaders, strong weavers, tenacious sheepherders, and loving grandmothers. As a leader, mother, and community member, Amber advocates for Navajo Citizens who have little to no political agency such as domestic violence victims, sexual assault survivors, vulnerable children, LGBTQ2Si, mental health issues, homelessness, and ICWA children/families. Amber is a firm believer in “Ałchíní bá a’nít’á – Do it for the Children.”