As a child, I grew up with many teachings from my parents. My father would say, “look around the circle, there’s not another one in this world that looks exactly like you. The spirals on your fingers and on top of your head is how the Diyin Dine’e (Holy People) know who you are and no one has the same. That’s how sacred you are.” This teaching resonates within the Suicide Prevention and Youth Empowerment and Health initiatives that allows me to incorporate those teachings while supporting the youth and imprinting a seed of strength and resiliency as they persevere through life’s challenges and continue their journey Walking In Beauty.
Shardai Pioche, a member of the Dine Nation, is Naakai dine'é (Mexican Clan), born for the 'Áshįįhi (Salt Clan). Her maternal grandpa is of the Táchii'nii (Red Running Into Water Clan) and her paternal grandpa is Spanish. Shardai joined the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health in October of 2016. Shardai works as a Research Associate on the Dine (Navajo) Nation in Shiprock, NM and is involved in implementation, coordination, and evaluation of the Center’s behavioral health programs that include NativeVision, Sust-AIns, and the Honoring Life Suicide Prevention program. She has also assisted as an Independent Evaluator for the Family Spirit Nurture program and as a Vaccine Verifier with the Infectious Disease Pneumococcal 15 Vaccine trial. Shardai works collaboratively with colleagues, community partners and stakeholders to provide community based approaches that contribute to understanding community and individual health factors that contribute toattaining Hózhó
Prior to joining the Center for American Indian health, Shardai has worked largely in Experiential Education and Outdoor Recreation Programs for over 15 years. During this period she had the opportunity to work with Native American populations promoting health and wellness. It was in this capacity that she developed a passion for working in community health to address health disparities and create health initiatives to improve the health of Native communities.
Shardai’s educational background includes Bachelor of Art degrees in Public Health and Psychology from Fort Lewis College. A Master of Social Work from the University of Denver and has completed the Public Health Training Certificate for American Indian Health Professionals through Johns Hopkins University. She is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Behavioral Health from Arizona State University.