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Del E. Webb School of Construction honors outstanding alum

Jeff Begay

Jeff Begay (at right) is pictured attending a Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community Veteran’s Pow Wow. At left is Stephen Tahmahkera, son of Gary Tahmahkera, a microbiology laboratory coordinator in ASU’s School of Life Sciences.

Jeff Begay, a member of the Navajo Nation who has worked for decades to improve business and living conditions in Native American communities, is the 2010 Del E. Webb School of Construction Outstanding Alumni of the Year.

Begay graduated with a degree in construction management in 1974 and now is manager of business development for Kitchell Contractors Native American Division. Through his division’s work, Begay has helped lead efforts to bring quality construction services to Indian lands. The impact he’s had on Native American communities prompted his nomination for the alumni award by colleagues in the industry and the Native American community.

He sees his job as “a mission and a passion. We are helping to build nations, to make them prosperous and healthy. It’s fabulous that Kitchell hires people, like me, who understand this culturally unique segment of America and also strives to provide quality service, with integrity and respect.”

Among his efforts beyond construction business, Begay has been instrumental in organizing Kitchell’s Cultural Sensitivity Seminars, has worked as a general contractor and been a consultant to the Gila River Indian community, assisting in the development of governmental facilities, infrastructure and community housing programs.

Begay was born and raised in Teesto, Ariz., on the Navajo Indian Reservation. He served in the U.S. Army, including a tour of duty in Vietnam in 1967 and 1968. He later went to ASU on the GI Bill and earned a scholarship from Kitchell Corp. which helped him earn his degree at ASU.

He is a former president of American Indian Council of Architects and Engineers and former president of the American Indian Veterans Memorial Organization.

Begay continues an active involvement in the Schools as a founding member of the executive committee of Del E. Webb School’s Construction in Indian Country organization and the founder of the Native American Construction Management Endowment. He gave the first gift that established the Native American Construction Management Grant in 2005. The grant has awarded $42,900 in total grants over the last six years. Eight students have graduated in the program since 2006.

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