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Ms. Sandra Begay

SandraBegay_HeadshotChair, UNM Rainforest Innovations Board of Directors
R & D Researcher—Principal Member of the Technical Staff, Sandia National Laboratories


BS – Civil Engineering, UNM
MS – Structural Engineering, Stanford University

Business/Research Background

Ms. Begay is an R & D Researcher—Principal Member of the Technical Staff at Sandia National Laboratories. In 1992, she joined Sandia as a Principal Member of the Technical Staff and head of Sandia’s technical efforts in the Renewable Energy Program to assist Native American tribes with renewable energy development. In 2019, Ms. Begay took a special leave of absence from Sandia to serve as Mayor Keller’s former Director of the Environmental Health Department for the city of Albuquerque. A former UNM Regent, she was also appointed in 2019 by Governor Lujan Grisham to the Board of Regents. Prior to this, she worked at Lawrence Livermore Laboratories and at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Particular Knowledge and Skills

Ms. Begay is a former Executive Director of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES), former chair of the AISES Board of Directors, and the recipient of the AISES Lifetime Achievement Award. The mission of AISES is to substantially increase the representation of American Indians and Alaskan Natives in STEM studies and careers. Recently, she received the 2020 Indigenous Excellence Award from AISES for her substantial and impactful work to advance programs and opportunities for Indigenous students and professionals in STEM education and careers. Recognized by WEPAN (Women in Engineering Programs & Advocates Network), she has served on its national Board of Directors. In 2003, Ms. Begay was awarded the Women of Color Emerald Honor for Community Service during the Third Annual Women of Color Research Sciences and Technologies Awards Conference. In 2000, Ms. Begay was the recipient of the Stanford University 2000 Multicultural Alumni of the Year Award. Other honors and awards include the Alumni Circle Award from the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME) for her lifetime contributions to the advancement of Native American students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and careers; and the Governor’s Award for Outstanding Women from the New Mexico Commission on the Status of Women. Ms. Begay is a former site mentor at UNM-Gallup for the NM Rainforest University Center program.