MISSOULA – The American Indian Business Leaders at the University of Montana represented business leadership well at the 25th National AIBL Leadership Conference, earning the “Chapter of the Year” award.
The conference took place on the campus of Nike World Headquarters March 28-30 in Beaverton, Oregon. Jimmy Gomez, a.k.a. “Taboo,” from the Black-Eyed Peas, who is an eight-time Emmy winner and of Shoshone and Mexican decent, was the keynote speaker for the event.
UM’s AIBL chapter won in the University Division at the awards banquet and took home $1,000, with the student members representing several different tribes and majors. The chapter presented their current activities, community service projects, fundraising efforts and more at the conference.
- Leo John Bird; vice president; Blackfeet, Haida and Tlingit; public health graduate student.
- Christian Ulibarri, secretary, Taos Pueblo, junior in business marketing.
- Ryan Longtime Sleeping, public outreach vice president, Blackfeet, freshman.
- Dominique Nault, fundraising vice president, Cree, junior in environmental studies.
- Jillian Leigh Topsky, marketing vice president, Cree, freshman in sociology.
- Chase Can, budget and finance vice president, Blackfeet, freshman in political science.
- Millie Bearleggings, public outreach vice president, Blackfeet, biology/pre-med sophomore.
- Craig L. Brown; president; Dine, Salish and Lakota; business senior in management information systems.
Brown, who has been involved with AIBL for the past two years, said that student involvement in organizations such as AIBL is important to college success, especially among Native students.
“Winning awards like ‘Business Plan of the Year’ at last year’s conference and ‘Chapter of the Year’ at this year’s conference is second to engaging Native and non-Native students involved with AIBL to make sure they achieve the success of returning to school each fall and graduating,” Brown said. “I’ll be back next fall with plans on graduating May 2020. I attribute that to that first AIBL meeting I attended and all the events that have engaged me to succeed.”
AIBL is a national organization that seeks to increase the representation of American Indians and Alaskan Natives in business and entrepreneurial ventures. It was founded as a nonprofit at UM in 1994. Today, there are more than 75 chapters nationwide.