Indigenous Communicators & Journalists Join PRSA Phoenix for virtual round table

Updated: Aug 5, 2020

Learn more from our discussion on race and current events

PHOENIX - On Wednesday, July 22, PRSA Phoenix hosted another panel discussion as part of its “Wednesday Wisdom” series. This virtual roundtable discussion featured members of our Indigenous communications community and focused on a wide range of issues facing the community, as well as how we as communicators can better represent all members of our community.

The panel of journalists, communicators and community leaders shared their life experiences, expertise and valuable resources with participants. Topics included recent Supreme Court rulings and how they affect Indian Country, COVID-19 and its impact on Native businesses, as well as the Native Vote and the U.S. Census. The evening ended with a conversation surrounding the changing of the name and mascot of Washington’s football team.

Candace Hamana moderated the event. Hamana is Hopi from the Badger clan and the owner and Founder of Badger PR. She has more than a decade of experience in strategic public relations. She is a member of our PRSA Phoenix chapter and a former board member. Panelists included the following journalists and communicators:

Alia Hauter is an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Community and brings more 18 years of marketing, public, media and intergovernmental relations knowledge to the table. Her experience includes tourism, event management, brand development, campaign development and strategic partnership.

She currently sits on the Board of Director for the Wild Horse Pass Development Authority, the economic development entity for Gila River Indian Community. Hauter joined PRSA in her role as the Director of Communications for The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development.

Aliyah Chavez is a reporter and producer at Indian Country Today's Phoenix newsroom. Her reporting covers a wide range of topics from the coronavirus pandemic to the 2020 presidential election. She has interviewed presidential candidates, tribal leaders and congressional representatives. In September, Chavez was the first reporter at Indian Country Today to have a story published in the Associated Press. She has previous experience working with the Times Media Group, Peninsula Press and NBC’s Today Show. Chavez is an alumna of Stanford University where she holds a bachelors and master’s degree. She is from Kewa Pueblo, one of the 19 pueblos located in New Mexico. Twitter @AliyahJChavez

Debra Utacia Krol is an Indigenous affairs reporter at the Arizona Republic, where she reports on the intersection of climate, culture and commerce, and is supported by the Catena Foundation and the Water Funder Initiative. Krol, an enrolled member of the Xolon Salinan Tribe has more than two decades of expertise in reporting on Native issues for publications large and small, with an emphasis on environmental and science issues, and has been a contributor to two books on native traditions. Her two latest awards: Best Beat Reporter – Environmental from the Native American Journalists Association and second place in Best Food Feature from the Society for Features Journalism. Twitter @debkrol or email

Kris Beecher is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, is a graduate of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and holds a JD/MBA joint degree. He has served as Vice President of the ASU Native American Law Students Association and is an O’Connor Merit Scholar, Cobell Scholar, and Chief Manuelito Scholar. He also holds a BA degree in Political Science from ASU where he graduated summa cum laude.

Originally from Tuba City, AZ, Beecher volunteers his time speaking to Native American youth via the Pipeline to Law Initiative, which encourages them to seek out careers in Law and to become the next generation of Tribal lawyers, judges, and leaders.

In June of 2017, Beecher was sworn in as a member of the Navajo Nation Bar Association and spent the summer working at the Office of the Chief Prosecutor of the Navajo Nation. Additionally, Beecher was appointed to the Navajo Housing Authority’s Board of Commissioners in May of 2017, and recently completed a 3-year term as Chairman of the Board.

Jaynie Parrish (Diné) is a citizen of the Navajo Nation and grew up in Kayenta and Window Rock, Arizona. Parrish is currently the Director of Navajo-Hopi Campaign for the Navajo County Democratic Party and previously served as the Social Media Manager at EMILY’s List and was responsible for the social media messaging to elect pro-choice Democratic women to public office. She taught American Indian Studies and Women and Gender studies at the University of North Dakota.

She has worked with Intertribal Sports, the National Indian Gaming Association; Rock the Vote, and Arizona State University Office of the President. She joined the Denise Juneau and Hillary Clinton campaigns and then started her own digital practice, Parrish Digital, where she specializes in expanding social and digital networks for tribes and organizations. Parrish is an alum of Arizona State University and the Harvard Kennedy School.

TW: @jaynieparrish IG: @parrish_digital and for Northeast AZ Native Dems FB @neaznativedemocrats TW/IG: neazNativeDems

Simon Moya-Smith is an Oglala Lakota and Chicano writer and journalist. He has a Master of Arts in Political Journalism from Columbia University in the City of New York. His new book, "Your Spirit Animal is a Jackass," will be available in 2021. Follow him on Twitter @SimonMoyaSmith.

Additional conversations included topics focused on how media can do a better job representing Indigenous people in their stories, focusing on the positive aspects of stories, and not sensationalizing things like poverty and violence.

PRSA Phoenix is dedicated to the promotion of diversity and inclusion and are hopeful this will be the first of many events that include our Indigenous community members.

“Through its Wednesday Wisdom series, Phoenix PRSA, recognizing the importance of dialogue on diversity, equality and inclusion, has given its members the opportunity to participate in conversations with leaders from various communities, representing a wide variety of cultural and ethnic populations,” said Abbie S. Fink, PRSA Western District Chair and vice president/general manager at HMA Public Relations. “Not only are these sessions timely and extremely relevant, but are a great first step in continuing to raise awareness within the communications field on our role to further promote DEI within our organizations.”

PRSA members should mark their calendars for the next “Wednesday Wisdom” event August 19. To stay up-to-date on events and news from the Chapter be sure to follow PRSA Phoenix on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.


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