Taos Woman

Women of Impact: Debbie Lujan, Community/Nonprofit Leadership


What is your current occupation and for how many years?

I have been co-coordinator of the Taos Pueblo Pow Wow for 11 years. Prior to that, I was a volunteer for several years doing a variety of tasks before, during, and after the pow wow and learning on the job with every year. I have a gallery at the pueblo where I sell my landscape photography of Taos Pueblo. Being self-employed enables me to dedicate the long hours that are needed to get the Taos Pueblo Pow Wow up and running administratively

How did you get where you are today, and who/what helped you along the way?

Richard Archuleta, who helped to create the Taos Pueblo Pow Wow in 1985, is the primary coordinator of the celebration. He has taught me a lot, especially about diplomacy and staying positive despite no matter the situation. After being a volunteer for a few years and seeing how things were laid out, I felt I had a varied enough skill set to help administratively with the pow wow. We make a great team and can very nearly anticipate each other’s thoughts as to what needs to be done. My parents are also a huge influence. I am so fortunate that my parents live close by, and I consider them to be my foundation in so many ways. They know how limited my time can be on that last stretch to the pow wow weekend. They do not hesitate to come out to the pow wow grounds to help pick up trash or help with the physical labor since sometimes we lack volunteers.

If you could go back in time and tell your 18-year-old self-anything, what would it be?

I would tell my eighteen year old self that there is no time table to achieve your life’s goals. Expand your skill set, but do something that makes you happy.

How do you achieve work-life balance?

Work life balance is based entirely on family, the importance of my cultural life here at Taos Pueblo, and taking care of my health and well-being. Living and working at Taos Pueblo enables me to be fully ensconced in my community and culture which is essential to who I am and keeps me grounded. I go to High Altitude Health & Fitness several times a week to lift weights in addition to running. I started running a few miles every week a couple years ago because I was looking for a challenge. Thankfully, I discovered that running helps to alleviate stress and clear my head. My life and work revolve around the Taos Pueblo Pow Wow for a portion of the year, but I am also a photographer.

How do you motivate yourself and stay motivated?

Knowing that I have deadlines and this huge task of getting all these people in one spot at the same time is a huge motivator. If I get the opportunity, I like to attend other pow wows to see how they function. In fact, any large event is fascinating to me.

What’s an accomplishment that you are proudest of?

I am proud of the success of the Taos Pueblo Pow Wow and the awards I have accumulated for my photography from the various juried Native American art shows that I do nationwide. Oddly enough, I never have enough time to photograph at the pow wow!

As an invisible mentor, what is one piece of advice that you would give to readers?

Volunteers are always needed to keep our community activities active and afloat!

  Meet all of the Taos Woman 2020 Women of Impact:

Debbie Lujan: Community and Non-Profit Leadership
Michele Hunt: Educator
Jacquelene McHorse: Entrepreneur
Yvette Ortega: Restauranteur
Catherine Strisik: Literary Artist
Ernestina Cordova: Community Volunteer
Lisa Abeyta-Valerio: Athletics
Nikki Ross: Children's Creative Opportunities


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