Kathleen Sanchez | Wan Povi | Tewa

Kathy Wan Povi Sanchez is a spirit-rooted, Tewa-speaking social activist, community educator, and a third-generation traditional potter from the San Ildefonso Pueblo in New Mexico. 

In 1989 she co-founded Tewa Women United, a collective effort of Native women concerned by the very personal, traumatic effects of colonization. Together the women created a safe space to empower one another to reclaim their power in the face of domestic violence, addiction and other challenges. Inside the protected circle created by Tewa Women United, the women shared their grandmothers’ teachings about the sacredness of women and the responsibility to carry on the Pueblo-Tewa way of being.

“It was a back and forth and fluidity coming to our center to uncover the strength we had as women and girls – and also our ties with Mother Earth,” said Kathy about their founding principles. “We knew we had our strength.”

Today the social justice organization has five innovative programs focused on supporting Indigenous women, families and beloved communities. This year, Kathy and Tewa Women United celebrate its 30th anniversary.

Still guided by her matrilineal wisdom bearers, Kathy coordinates the inter-tribal, multi-cultural Circle of Grandmothers who inspire the work of Tewa Women United. Her love of Mother Earth guides her as manager for its Environmental Health and Justice Program.

In her career, Kathy has developed a transformative tool for cross-cultural communications called the Butterfly Model of Two-World Harmony for transformative change. She conducts trainings on program development that is culturally appropriate from a Native women’s perspective. A fluent tribal speaker, Kathy is currently serving on the educational board in her community to help young people on their leadership paths. 

Last year, Kathy and her daughter, Dr. Corrine Sanchez, were recognized by the Pueblo governors and people for their lifetime contributions and achievements in their advocacy to sustain their Pueblo ways of life. 

Kathy is a builder of bridges, and a seeker of peace and justice. She uses the symbol of the Mother Corn as one of her teaching tools, eloquently describing how the feminine force within it provides nourishment for a healthy mind, body and spirit. In her graceful way, Kathy reminds us that “As long as we protect the seeds of life, we shall never perish.” 

Welcome, a living treasure from the Pueblos, Legacy Leader Kathy Sanchez.