In September 2023, the world lost a dedicated and passionate advocate for public health, JB Kinlacheeny. As the Public Health Advisor – Alcohol and Substance Abuse (ASA) National Lead for the Indian Health Service (IHS), JB Kinlacheeny played a pivotal role in addressing the critical issue of alcohol and substance abuse within the American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) population. With an unwavering commitment to improving the health and well-being of his community, Kinlacheeny’s contributions to public health were both remarkable and inspiring. In this article, we celebrate the life and legacy of JB Kinlacheeny.
JB Kinlacheeny, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, dedicated his career to serving the AI/AN population and advocating for their health. The Indian Health Service (IHS), a division of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, is the primary provider of federal healthcare for AI/AN individuals, and JB Kinlacheeny’s role within the Office of Clinical and Preventive Services (OCPS) was crucial. In particular, he was responsible for leading the administration of the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Program within the Division of Behavioral Health (DBH).
The ASA Program was designed to address the unique challenges and health disparities faced by AI/AN communities regarding alcohol and substance misuse. JB Kinlacheeny’s leadership in this program aimed to reduce the incidence and prevalence of substance abuse, making a profound impact on the health and well-being of his fellow community members.
JB Kinlacheeny’s journey to becoming a prominent public health advisor was marked by dedication and perseverance. He earned his Master of Public Health degree at the University of Kansas Medical Center, equipping him with the knowledge and skills necessary to tackle complex public health challenges.
Prior to joining the federal government, Kinlacheeny served as the Behavioral Health Epidemiologist at the Navajo Epidemiology Center. In this capacity, he provided critical technical support to the Navajo Nation, addressing a wide range of behavioral health issues. His close collaboration with federal, state, and tribal leaders demonstrated his commitment to fostering partnerships and working collectively to improve health outcomes.
JB Kinlacheeny’s legacy extends far beyond his professional accomplishments. His dedication to his family and community was unwavering, and it is clear that his heart resided within the Navajo Nation. As a loving husband and father, he cherished his role as a provider and protector of his family.
In the wake of JB Kinlacheeny’s passing, his family faces a significant financial burden associated with bringing him back to the sacred lands of the Navajo Nation, where his heart truly belonged. To support his family during this challenging time, a GoFundMe page was established by Rayetta Redhouse on behalf of Revaline Yazzie-Tate.
This fundraising effort reflects the deep love and respect that JB Kinlacheeny’s friends, colleagues, and community members had for him. It is a testament to his lasting impact on the lives of those he touched.
The passing of JB Kinlacheeny is a profound loss to the field of public health and the AI/AN community he served with dedication and compassion. His role as the ASA National Lead for the Indian Health Service showcased his commitment to addressing the critical issue of alcohol and substance abuse within his community. Moreover, his journey from the Navajo Nation to becoming a respected public health advisor is a testament to his unwavering dedication and passion for improving the health and well-being of the AI/AN population.
JB Kinlacheeny’s legacy will endure through the positive changes he brought to his community, the partnerships he fostered, and the lives he touched. As we remember him, let us continue to work towards the betterment of public health and honor his memory by carrying forward his commitment to serving those in need.