Wenona Benally Baldenegro, from Kayenta, Ariz., hopes to become the first American Indian woman to serve in Congress in continuance to help the Navajo Nation.
Baldenegro plans to run as a Democratic candidate for Congress in Arizona’s Congressional District 1, which the Navajo Nation is under, and is considering a run for the U.S. House of representatives.
“As the Navajo Nation faces possible elimination of crucial federal services and programs, the Navajo people need a candidate who will fight to protect jobs and services that are essential to our survival and development,” she said.
The candidate once worked as a health and cultural resource project specialist at the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, where she advised Congress and the federal agencies on health care needs of American Indians, and helped tribes protect cultural sites.
Baldenegro obtained a Master’s degree in public policy and a Juris doctor degree from Harvard University, a Bachelor of Arts degree in English at summa cum laude and an alumna of Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University, where she is the first Native student to graduate within the honors.
“For the past 10 years, I’ve focused my career on formulating policies and laws at the tribal, state and federal levels promoting economic and community development,” she said. “As the congresswoman for the Navajo Nation, I will advocate for legislation and policies supporting tribal sovereignty and rural development.”
Baldenegro is from the Tsi’naaajinii clan and born for the Honaghaanii clan. Grandfather is from the Ta’neezahnii and paternal grandfather from the Tabaahi clan. She is married to Salomon F. Baldenegro, a Mexican-American from Tucson, Ariz.
She was raised in a single-parent home and “motivated by her mother to attend college in order to seek a better life.”