SACRAMENTO — Governor Gavin Newsom has appointed Bidtah N. Becker as Deputy Secretary for Environmental Justice, Tribal Affairs and Border Relations at California’s Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA).
Becker is one of the nation’s leading tribal water rights, energy and environmental justice practitioners. A member of the Navajo Nation, she has served as the head of the Navajo Nation Division of Natural Resources, overseeing 12 departments including agriculture, parks, forestry, land development, mine remediation, archaeological and cultural resources, and water resources, with a staff of more than 500. She is currently with the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority, where she was instrumental in advancing the development of the Navajo Gallup Water Supply Project, a $1.5 billion project that will provide clean, reliable water to tribal and rural communities.
“We are thrilled to welcome Bidtah to CalEPA’s leadership team,” said Jared Blumenfeld, California Secretary for Environmental Protection. “Her vision, brilliance and compassion will help California achieve our ambitious agenda of combatting environmental racism by empowering communities of color, rebuilding relationships with tribal nations, and helping champion environmental issues and tolerance on the US/Mexico border.”
Ms. Becker has served on the Water and Tribes Initiative in the Colorado River Basin where she co-chaired the Universal Access to Clean Water effort, on the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission, and on the Navajo Nation Water Rights Commission. She holds a B.A. in Foreign Service, School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University with a specialty in Latin American Studies and a J.D. from the University of New Mexico School of Law.
Ms. Becker is also a champion for Indigenous arts and artists. In 2012, President Obama appointed her to serve as a trustee for the Institute of American Indian Arts and Culture (IAIA). She and her husband are Sustainers of gallupARTS, a nonprofit arts council serving Northwest New Mexico and 2021 recipient of the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts in New Mexico. President Biden recently nominated her to serve as Member of the National Council on the Arts. Ms. Becker has also served two separate terms on the board for the Southwestern Association of Indian Arts, including one year as board chair.
–California’s Environmental Protection Agency