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Biden nominates Navajo IHS Director Roselyn Tso as head of the federal agency

Roselyn Tso
Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice President
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Navajo Area Indian Health Service Director Roselyn Tso (center) with Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez (right) and Navajo Department of Health Executive Director, Dr. Jill Jim (left). President Joe Biden has nominated Tso as director of the IHS, which oversees health care for 2.5 million tribal members and Alaska Natives in 37 states.

President Joe Biden has announced the nomination of Navajo tribal member Roselyn Tso as director of the Indian Health Service. She’s worked in tribal health for decades and is the current director of the Navajo Area IHS.

Tso’s career with IHS stretches back nearly four decades and she’s led the Navajo Nation branch of the agency since 2019. Tso previously served in various roles in the Portland area working with urban health programs and the implementation of the Indian Education and Self-Determination Act.

If Tso is confirmed by the U.S. Senate she’ll oversee health care for 2.5 million tribal members and Alaska Natives in 37 states with more than 600 hospitals, clinics and health stations. The IHS has an annual budget of nearly $7.5 billion.

Navajo Nation officials applauded Tso’s nomination. President Jonathan Nez says her leadership and expertise have helped save lives on the reservation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The National Congress of American Indians says it’s pleased the administration has made a nomination for the IHS director position, which has been vacant for more than a year. Zuni tribal member and Donald Trump appointee Rear Adm. Michael Weahkee was asked to resign last January by the incoming Biden administration.

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a frequent contributor to NPR.