UNM Rainforest Innovations

The tribal liaisons serve as navigators, dedicated mentors, and connection points for entrepreneurs within tribal communities across the state. They support entrepreneurs by identifying barriers and seeking solutions through resources within the state’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. They conduct assessments, support the development of strategic efforts for entrepreneurial training, and work with community partners to facilitate the reimagining of entrepreneurship in tribes based on their indigenous roots. 

Connect with a Liaison

Connect with a tribal liaison to fill out an intake form and get started on growing your business!

Zachariah Ben

Owner, Bidii Baby Foods, LLC


Zach is a member of the Navajo Nation, a sixth-generation traditional farmer and sand painter in Shiprock, New Mexico. He is of the “Giant People,” born for the “Red Running into Water” clan. His maternal grandfather’s clan is the “Red House People,” and his paternal grandfather is of the “Salt People.” Zach has over 10 years of experience in traditional farming and is the owner and founder of Bidii Baby Foods, LLC, a Navajo-registered business that sells organic, indigenous baby foods. In addition to working as a Tribal Liaison, he is a member of the state-led Family Leadership Council where he works with other families to address early childhood issues through action and advocacy.

Heather Gomez

Owner, Big D Flooring and Dulce Base Tipi AirBnB


Heather is an enrolled Jicarilla Apache Nation member who resides on the Jicarilla Apache Nation reservation in Dulce, NM. She graduated from San Juan College with her AAS degree in Digital Media & Art Design before attending the Southwest University of Visual Arts for her BA degree in Graphic Design, with a minor in Advertising and Marketing. She was the Editor of the Jicarillo Chieftain newspaper. In March 2022, Heather joined NPR’s Next Generation Radio as a Digital Editor and that same year she started a small flooring business operating in rural areas of Northern New Mexico called Big D Flooring LLC. She lists a tipi on Airbnb; has worked for Tribal Tech LLC on contracts with the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) and the Administration of Native Americans (ANA); and she is a Tribal Content Developer with the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA).

Mytegia Lee

Executive Director, Southwest Native Assets Coalition


Mytegia has a long history working in the commercial banking and financing services industry providing credit analysis, financial education as well as small dollar loan origination and servicing throughout Western New Mexico. Her diligence, attention to detail, and commitment to customer service reflect her sincere interest in helping rural households secure optimal economic opportunities and outcomes. Ms. Lee is bilingual and a skilled silversmith, rancher, and mother of three. She enjoys traveling, physical fitness and photography. She is from the community of Manuelito, New Mexico and is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation.

Scott Tafoya

Owner, Truth Dancer Coaching, LLC


Growing up in Santa Clara Pueblo, Scott graduated from Española Valley High School and was an active member of the Baptist Mission in Santa Clara. Majoring in Psychology and Music, Scott later completed Seminary and pastored in his home church for 6 years before moving on to pastor in other Native communities. Scott was bi-vocational and took on jobs including Director and Business Manager of a Halfway House, owning a mobile auto-glass business in two cities, teaching and directing in branch locations of seminaries and his college alma mater, and driving a school bus. Scott completed his Doctor of Ministry degree in 2010 and the experience inspired him to become a professionally trained coach and establish Truth Dancer Coaching to focus on Native American Leadership Coaching and Training in both secular and church arenas.

Joseph Toledo

Owner, Smash N Crispy Burgers and Project Manager, Smart Tribe 275


Born and raised in Los Angeles, Joseph is a part of Jemez Pueblo and he grew up visiting Jemez and participating in the cultural events and dances. He has taken on many entrepreneurial pursuits over the years, starting a Farmers Market organization with colleagues called Enriched Farms; in 2019 he started Native Harvest Events Inc., a farmers market and special events organization; and then in 2021 he started a successful smashburger company called Smash N Crispy Burgers operating out of Orange County, CA. He currently lives in Jemez Pueblo and works as a Project Manager for an electronic manufacturing company called Smart Tribe Technology. Their goal is to employ Native Americans and have them earn a competitive wage on the reservation. His personal mission is to unite my culture with opportunities to bring prosperity to our Pueblo.

Entrepreneur's Journey Interview Series

More Stories

Check out our YouTube channel to watch more interview videos with Native entrepreneurs and business owners. 


If you would like to learn more or discuss potential opportunities for collaboration with our program, please contact the Program Manager:

Cecilia Pacheco

Program Manager, NMTEEP

UNM Rainforest Innovations


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