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American Desert


IYA AFFO pic.webp

Iya Affo
Executive Director (Acting)

Ms. Iya Affo is a Culturalist and Historical Trauma Specialist who earned Western Certification as a Trauma Specialist. Iya is Certified to facilitate Dr. Bruce Perry's Neurosequential Model for Caregiving, and Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI). She is a Certified Trauma & Resilience Life Coach, a Certified Adverse Childhood Experiences Trainer and has completed Certification for the Native American based Fatherhood is Sacred/Motherhood is Sacred program.

Iya's ancestors hail from the Sacred City of 41 Mountains in West Africa, Barbados, Jamaica and the Bahamas. From the age of 5 years old, she showed compassion and love for people in need, which was fostered by time spent in nursing homes massaging residual limbs for elders affected by limb loss, with her mother. The first part of Iya's life was focused on physical healing and she pursued education in Nutrition, Massage Therapy and eventually Chiropractic, all the while participating in a variety of indigenous healing practices. Iya has worked with clients in search of healing for 35 years.

With an eye on indigenous healing practices, Iya has visited more than 30 countries around the world and has spent extended time living and studying in Native American, Yoruba, Buddhist, Hindu and Taoist communities in various countries. While on pilgrimage in West Africa, she studied with Medicine Men and Women to learn the ways of the Shaman and understand the truth about the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. In China, she lived in the Shaolin Temple, the cradle of Zen Buddhism, and immersed herself in Chinese culture. While in China, she also lived among the Taoist in Kunyu Shan. After a spiritual calling to India, Iya sojourned in an ashram (Hindu spiritual community) and lived a minimal lifestyle while imbuing Hindu customs and ideology. She is an Adjunct Faculty member at the Arizona Trauma Institute\Trauma Institute International, is the founder of Phoenix Rising to Resilience virtual community on the PACEs Connection platform and was recently appointed to the Gilbert Community Engagement Task Force to advocate for people who have been disempowered.

Iya advocates for the harmonization of Traditional Medicine and Western Medicine to facilitate holistic healing.  Serving Navajo Nation, Salt River Indian Community, Gila River Indian Community, Ho Chunk Indian Community, and Chemehuevi Indian Community, Iya found a home among the egalitarian, indigenous people of North America. 

Roberta Ward

Roberta Ward, DNP, CNM
Board Co-Chair



Dr. Roberta Ward is passionate in improving the health of women in our country, especially Alaskan Native/Native American (AN/NA) women. Dr. Ward has spent most of her professional career in the service of AN/NA women.  She has worked in Alaska, Utah, and Arizona providing care for women in a variety of settings. 


Dr. Ward attended school while raising her family of 5 children and working as an RN. It took many years, but her motto was "one foot in front of the other."  Currently, Dr. Ward works in a clinic only for a tribal agency. However, when practicing as a Nurse Midwife, she was happy to have helped bring over 1000 babies into the world in attendance of women and their families.

F. Hunter Remake

Fredricka Hunter, LCSW 

Board Co-Chair

Amskapi Piikuni (Blackfeet)


Fredricka Hunter is a member of the Amskapi Piikuni (Blackfeet) Tribe of Montana. She received her bachelor’s degree in health and human performance from the University of Montana and her master’s degree in social work from the University of Utah.  Fredricka has devoted her career serving Native Americans in the areas of suicide prevention, higher education, foster care, community development and women and infant wellness.

Tashina C. Racine, RN 

Maternal/Child Health Nurse/Board member

Amskapi Piikuni (Blackfeet)


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