Navajo Times Editor wins leadership award

By Cindy Yurth
Tséyi' Bureau

WlNDOW ROCK, Nov. 7, 2013

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Candace Begody

Navajo Times Editor Candace Begody has been named one of the 40 outstanding Native American leaders under 40 years old by the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development.

With 39 other young Native leaders from across the country - including a 27-year-old who is vice president of his tribe -- she claimed the "40 under 40" award at NCAIED's 38th Annual Indian Progress In Business Awards Gala held at RES Arizona Oct. 24 at the Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino in Chandler, Ariz.

Fellow Diné Carlyle Begay, recently appointed to fill the unexpired Arizona state senate term of Jack C. Jackson Jr., was the master of ceremonies.

At age 25, Begody is the youngest-ever editor of the Times and the first woman to edit the tribe's weekly newspaper.

"I'm just very humbled," said Begody, who is Tsenj’kin’ born for To'dich'’inii and hails from Cross Canyon, Ariz. "I like to think that these awards show me I'm on the right path to my purpose in life."

Begody rose quickly through the ranks at the Times, starting as a sports writing intern in 2007. She graduated from the University of Arizona in 2010 and was hired as sports editor. She was promoted to editor in 2012.

She came to journalism through the back door, applying for the Times internship after her older brother died in a car accident and she felt the need to return to the reservation and be with her family. At the time she was majoring in chemistry, but went back to school in journalism after discovering a talent for it. At the U of A she founded a newspaper for Native students.

In 2010, her younger brother passed away and she again felt the need to come home.

"Looking back, I think this job is why I was supposed to come back," Begody reflected.

Being young and female, Begody faced obstacles in being perceived as a leader, but she never doubted she could be.

"The men in my life - my father and grandfather - always told me to dream big," she said. At the same time, "I knew it was going to be hard, and I always worked as hard as I could at everything I did."

Begody also jumped at every opportunity that came her way, including a Chips Quinn scholarship, which allowed her to work at the Detroit News and at the White House, where she helped plan the first Tribal Nations Summit of the Obama/Biden Administration.

She was a finalist in a collegiate reporting contest that took her to Japan and South Korea, where she developed an affinity and respect for the people of Asia.

In 2011, she interrupted her career for a month to do a service project with Imaginations Inc. in Thailand.

But possibly the biggest challenge and opportunity came two years ago when her son, Mason, was born.

It's not easy balancing motherhood and a demanding career, Begody said.

"There are days when I feel like I really should be at the office, and also like I should really should be at home," she admitted. "But when he does something new or learns a new word ... it's better than cake!"

Navajo Times Publisher Tom Arviso said he was 'quite proud' of Begody.

'She's not even 30 years old yet and she's already been selected for the 40 Under 40 award!' he said. 'Candace is doing a good job as the editor of the Navajo Times. She understands the importance of the work she does and the work that we all do as a team. Candace will be recognized by her peers many more times in her career, I am sure of that.'

Of course, no one rises to a leadership position by herself, Begody hastened to add.

"I just want to thank all of my family members and my mentors, those who prayed for me, including my staff," she said. "That's how I was able to do it."