President Barack Obama has announced his intent to appoint NAU Applied Indigenous Studies Professor Octaviana Trujillo to the Joint Public Advisory Committee of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation. The announcement follows a months-long vetting process by White House personnel.

The committee is made up of 15 people from the United States, Canada and Mexico, who work to promote ecosystem protection and sustainable economic development as part of the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation.

“The group was formed more than 20 years ago when NAFTA was passed, to make sure there was attention paid to the environmental impact of free trade commerce in North America,” Trujillo said.

Chairman of Applied Indigenous Studies, Chad Hamill, said Trujillo’s appointment will reflect well on NAU in the areas of global engagement, sustainability and commitment to Native Americans.

“For years, she has been a tireless leader on indigenous environmental justice within multiple spheres, including the United Nations, the EPA, the National Council for Science and the Environment, and the Global Diversity Fund,” Hamill said. “As the founding chair of the Department of Applied Indigenous Studies, Dr. Trujillo helped shape the global focus of our program, in which we–as students, elders, and faculty—apply what we know for the benefit of Indigenous communities worldwide.”

The presidential appointment is recognition of Trujillo’s standing as a scholar and leader, who is well informed about issues critical to indigenous peoples, said Karen Pugliesi, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

Trujillo has a head start in her new position. She’s been attending international meetings as a member of the Environmental Protection Agency Governmental Advisory Committee. She said she was asked to join the group because of the work she has done around traditional ecological knowledge as it relates to changing climates.

“It is an honor to selected by the White House for this position and I look forward to serving on the committee,” Trujillo said.