To restore the sacredness of the Native American community by uniting people and animals.
Provide a variety of resources to support the Native American communities, such as animal health services, educational programs, behavioral health supports, and family resources that coincide with traditional values and core principles of First Nations communities.
Meet the Founder – Sheila K. Iyengar
Sheila has over 30 years of professional canine behavior and training experience. In addition to her work with NAGI Foundation, she is also the founder and owner of Lotus Dog Training and Reservation Rewards Animal Rescue.
As an indigenous woman herself, Sheila is passionate about giving back to First Nations Communities. In 2006, she founded Reservation Rewards Animal Rescue. This Arizona based 501(c) 3 non-profit was dedicated to supporting the Native American communities in the Phoenix metro area by finding homes for animals that community members could no longer care for. Throughout their first 10 years of operations, Reservation Rewards Animal Rescue experienced tremendous success and helped save the lives of over 4,000 animals through spay/neuter, medical treatment adoption and sheltering programs.
In 2015 Sheila developed a strategic partnership with the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. The NAGI Foundation launched at that time, with key goals designed to meet the needs of the Salt River Community: animal medical services, behavior training, humane education opportunities, and youth-based programs to enhance early childhood literacy outcomes and create opportunities for children and families to be strengthened.
Sheila is passionate about her work and prides herself on creating innovative and forward thinking programs to meet the needs of both people and their animals living in Tribal Land. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her family as well as outdoors, running and exploring the wealth of Arizona’s hiking trails, usually with her with her own faithful canine companion by her side.
Why Our Work Matters
Based on data available as of 2014 in the “Needs and Assets Report” there are roughly 7,000 people living in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. Nationally, on Tribal lands we see approximately 1-2 dogs per person, placing the estimated total number of dogs in SRPMIC at over 10,000.
The average lifespan of a dog living on Tribal Lands is 1-3 years. This shortened lifespan is mainly due to common but preventable illnesses, lack of access to care for more complex disease, and injuries.
NAGI Foundation is committed to providing support and community-based programs that bring services and solutions that will alleviate some challenges facing SRPMIC and to give back to this First Nations Community.
Board of Directors
Founder, Parent Support of Arizona
David Jefferson is the founder of Parent Support Arizona. He is also a parent of special needs children, an active member of the community and an advocate who provides support to families across the state of Arizona by ensuring children and young adults with disabilities are supported as they seek resources through the state education, behavioral health and developmental disability systems.
David has devoted the past 13 years of his life to supporting children and young adults with disabilities. David believes that all children deserve an opportunity to reach their full potential, and he works hard to offer families resources, support and advocacy to ensure their children can excel at home, at school and in the community.
Lawrence ‘D’ Pew
Phoenix Bankruptcy Attorney, Pew Law Center
Lawrence Pew is Managing Attorney for the Pew Law Center, one of the leading bankruptcy and tax law firms in Arizona.
He is an experienced bankruptcy, tax, and transactional attorney. Mr. Pew is a native Arizonan and graduated from Arizona State University and from the Barrett’s Honors College with a major in Finance and a minor is Sociology. He was nominated by his professors and peers for “Outstanding Graduating Senior.”
Upon graduation, Mr. Pew was recruited by IBM and relocated to Silicon Valley. He left his banking career at Bank One and his hometown for a new adventure. Working as a Financial Analyst, Mr. Pew controlled a Billion Dollar budget and was instrumental in saving IBM over $90 Million dollars in one year.
Looking for the next challenge, Mr. Pew then went to law school in San Diego. He focused his education on business planning, tax, contracts, real estate, and estate planning. During law school, Mr. Pew served as president of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society and the Federalist Society.
Director of Quality Management, Celebration Stem Cell Centre
Sara received a bachelor of science degree in nursing from Michigan State University in 1998. She has been a practicing Registered Nurse since that time in both Arizona and Michigan. Upon moving to Arizona in 2007, Sara focused on the area of Quality Management in order to ensure that patients received the highest quality medical care during their most vulnerable times. In 2014, she expanded her knowledge to the area of stem cell processing and banking in the East Valley. When not volunteering with the Nagi Foundation, Sara enjoys spending time with her daughter, husband, and 2 dogs.
Founder and Medical Director, DVM, San Tan Animal Hospital
Dr. Darger received a bachelor of science degree in Zoology from Arizona State University and a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Colorado State University. He has been practicing in the East Valley for 20 years and is dedicated to providing the best possible medicine and surgery to your canine and feline family members.
Charlene O’ Rourke
Counselor, Prevention Specialist, Consultant