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2006 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award

Finalist: Tawna Sanchez

Tawna Sanchez
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Tawna Sanchez is an honored 2006 Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award finalist for her steadfast commitment to help Native women and children lead lives free of violence and abuse. She has also worked on peace and social justice issues on an international level. Sanchez is currently the Family Services Director and the Program Coordinator of the Healing Circle Domestic Violence Program at the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA Family Center). She resides in Portland, Oregon.

Sanchez is highly respected by the domestic violence response system locally and statewide as well as by the survivors she works with. She spearheaded a co-advocacy agreement between local domestic violence providers and shelters, allowing advocates to share resources and more effectively extend them to clients. Sanchez has facilitated and led training workshops in culturally appropriate services, domestic violence, drug and alcohol prevention, diversity and internalized racism issues.

As the Family Services Director of NAYA Family Center, Sanchez has worked tirelessly to both provide and improve services to Native women who have experienced domestic violence. Sanchez helped to develop the NAYA Family Center?s Healing Circle Domestic Violence Program to fill the void of culturally specific domestic violence services. The NAYA Family Center?s Healing Circle has helped to increase the average stay of Native women fleeing domestic violence in the local shelter system.

In another effort to increase safety and shelter time for Native women, Sanchez spearheaded the Domestic Violence Video Project. This internal video tour of local domestic violence shelters is a helpful tool for women preparing to go into a shelter and is currently available in four languages. Sanchez also works with services providers on cultural competency issues for Russian, Vietnamese, and Latino women as well as Native women.

Sanchez serves on the Oregon Domestic and Sexual Violence Services Advisory Committee and is a member of the Tri-County Domestic and Sexual Violence Intervention Network. Sanchez currently chairs the Attorney Generals Sexual Assault Task Force's Indian Country Work Group that addresses sexual assault of Native people in the State of Oregon. From 1994 to 1997, she worked at the American Indian Family Healing Circle in Oakland, California where she provided counseling to individuals and families. Sanchez worked as a night case manager from 1991 to 1994 at the Bradley Angle House women?s shelter in Portland, Oregon.

As a volunteer, Sanchez's focus on peace and justice issues reflects both her commitment to traditional values and contributing to the world through service. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Peace Development Fund, the International Indian Treaty Council and the Anpo Spiritual Camp. Sanchez took five NAYA Family Center clients to St. Petersburg, Russia in 2004 for the International Non-Violence and Conflict Resolution Conference.

Sanchez attended the University of California at Berkeley Extension Program and received a Certificate in Drug and Alcohol Studies. She also has an Associates Degree in Business Administration from Merritt College in Oakland, California.


2006 Honorees


Harold Gatensby

Ilarion (Larry) Merculieff

Tawna Sanchez

Chief Judith Sayers


Learn More

About Tawna Sanchez:

Urban youth find more than just tutoring in an after-school program
NW Education, Spring 2004

Native American school opens door to new lives
The Oregonian, September 15, 2007


Astrid Scholz
tel: 503.467.0758
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Jason Pretty Boy
Indigenous Resilience Fellow
tel: 503.467.0803


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