Connections Spotlight — CCC&Y Executive Director Virginia Watahomigie honored with the Marcia Stanton Award by the Arizona ACEs Consortium

Dec 21, 2021 | CCC&Y Info & Events

Virginia Watahomigie.

By the Coconino Coalition for Children & Youth

Virginia Watahomigie, executive director of the Coconino Coalition for Children & Youth, was presented with the Marcia Stanton Award on Dec. 16 by the Arizona ACEs Consortium at the 8th annual statewide ACEs summit.

The Arizona ACEs Consortium is a collaboration of more than one hundred individuals, state, county, private organizations and professionals from all walks of life, united by a desire to help Arizona’s children. It promotes a greater understanding of the impacts of toxic stress and trauma, and supports efforts to address and prevent them.

“The Marcia Stanton Award was established in 2018 and pays homage to the original leader of the ACEs movement, Marcia Stanton. It is awarded to an individual who displays a commitment, perseverance and dedication to spread the awareness of Adverse Childhood Experiences and someone that leads action in their community to decrease the prevalence and effect of ACEs on both children and adults,” said Angie Burleson, executive director of the consortium. “This Award honors excellence in leadership, collaboration and the advancement of the PACEs movement in AZ.

“This year, the award goes to an individual in the high country. This individual has spearheaded her organization to refine its vision to one where every person lives in peace and is supported by a thriving and resilient community. To do this, she has led her organization to practice and spread the awareness of a critically important, but yet not often practiced, concept of self-care, holding mindfulness opportunities for staff and community members. Using a collective impact model, she has nurtured partnerships with multiple organizations across her county and facilitates community networking groups. This individual has gone over and beyond to put into a reality self-healing communities and has done so by authentically connecting and partnering with community members. Even through this pandemic, this person worked hard to carry the torch, providing virtual opportunities to learn more about ACEs and historical as well as present-day trauma, and Positive childhood experiences,” Burleson said.

The nomination stated in part:

“Virginia Watahomigie, M.ADM. is a strong leader fueled with passion! She is a state expert on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), promoting how we as a collective can move beyond ACEs. Virginia has vision and know-how but, even more importantly, recognizes the most significant lever is the collective voice of local communities.

Virginia has extensive experience in foster care and behavioral health. She also holds a degree in Leadership. A few short years ago, Virginia became Executive Director for Coconino Coalition for Children and Youth (

Virginia’s leadership inspires me! First, Virginia compiled a needs and assets report summarizing local and state data to ensure our priorities were data-informed. Then, with renewed focus, Virginia and the Executive Committee refined our vision and mission statements. We imagine a world where every person lives in peace and is supported by a thriving, resilient community. We are on a mission to ignite collective action that creates better lives for children and families.

As a farsighted humanitarian, Virginia holds systems remediation as a long-term vision for the Coalition. However, she knows this extensive work can’t happen unless we practice self-care as individuals and professionals. Therefore, the Coalition provides mindfulness opportunities for youth, schools, professionals, and the community.

Leading the Coalition from a true collective impact model, Virginia has nurtured multiple organizational partnerships across our vast county, including Native Americans for Community Action, Northland Family Help Center, North Country Health Care, Flagstaff Unified School District, Williams Elementary School District, Page Unified School District, and many more. In addition, under her leadership, CCCY continues to facilitate and engage in community networking groups across the county. …

Virginia introduced Coconino county, and potentially Arizona, to the concept of self-healing communities. Kevin Campbell, an international child advocate, was a two-time CCCY conference speaker. …

Virginia recognizes community is key to informing efficient, effective, and comprehensive systems. The community must share the same language around trauma and resiliency. Virginia developed virtual opportunities throughout the pandemic to ensure our communities increased knowledge of ACEs and the impact of historical and present-day trauma. …

Virginia knows that to move beyond ACEs requires authentic relationships. So, in 2019, Virginia approached the Board to invest in an engagement consultant to focus attention on developing ongoing, reciprocal relationships with individuals and organizations countywide. The Board approved, and the expansion of relationships and our collective impact continues.”

About the Coconino Coalition for Children & Youth — 

  • Our Mission: Igniting collective action to cultivate, honor & empower resilient, thriving communities.  
  • Our Vision: We envision a holistic community where all children of Coconino County are increasingly free from trauma experience and all have equitable opportunities that build resiliency.