Originally published: Mar 10, 2022, 11:10 a.m.
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. – Dr. Patricia Nez Henderson, an enrolled Navajo Nation member from Teesto, Ariz., was recently elected president of the Society for Nicotine and Tobacco Research.
Henderson will be the first Navajo American to serve as the company’s president.
Henderson is Dził tł’ahnii (Mountain Cove Clan), born to Tótsohnii (Big Water Clan), his maternal grandfather is Tł’ááshchí’í (Red Bottom People Clan) and his paternal grandfather is Tséńjíkiní (Honey Combed Rock People). She is a former student of Holbrook High School.
“On behalf of the Navajo Nation, we congratulate Dr. Patricia Nez Henderson on her historic achievement,” said Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez. “Dr. Henderson’s contributions to public health are recognized and praised throughout Indian Country, including the Navajo Nation. His work and advocacy to protect the health of children and the elderly from commercial tobacco products has opened path to many tribal communities. We wish her well in her new role in society and thank her for being an inspiration to our young Navajo students.
The Society for Nicotine and Tobacco Research is an association dedicated to supporting researchers, academics, treatment professionals, government employees and other professionals working in the field of nicotine and tobacco research. The society consists of members from more than 40 countries.
In November, Henderson was instrumental in enacting the “Niłch’ Éí Bee Ííná – Air is Life Act of 2021”, which prohibits the use of commercial tobacco products in enclosed and indoor areas of the Navajo Nation.
“I express my gratitude to the other members of the society for the nomination and the nomination. It is an honor to serve in this capacity and to represent Indigenous peoples,” Henderson said. “There are many global issues regarding public health and commercial tobacco control; however, the diversity of society will work together to accomplish our priorities. I am grateful to my family, the community of Teesto, the Navajo Nation, my friends and my colleagues who have inspired me to be part of a movement to ensure the well-being of all citizens, including the Navajo people .
Henderson graduated from the University of Arizona in 1990 with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry.
In 1994, she earned a master’s degree in public health with a focus on health policy and resources from Yale University.
In 2000, she earned her medical degree and became the first Native American woman to graduate from Yale University School of Medicine. In her honor, the Yale School of Medicine created the “Patricia Nez Award” for medical students who are committed to improving the health of American Indians.
Henderson has received numerous awards and honors, including the Ely S. Parker Award from the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, the Henry Roe Cloud Award from Yale University, the Professional Excellence Award from the University of Arizona and many more.
“We congratulate Dr. Henderson on his appointment. She has remarkable experience that will bring value, knowledge and greater vision to advancing public health globally. We pray for Dr. Henderson and her family as she begins her new endeavors with the company,” Vice President Lizer said.