MISSOULA – American Indian Business Leaders is the only nonprofit organization solely dedicated to empowering Indigenous business students across the United States. And the nonprofit’s top chapter in the nation resides at the University of Montana College of Business.

UM took home Chapter of the Year honors for 2022 in the University Division of the recent 28th Annual AIBL Leadership Conference in Rancho Mirage, California.

“We couldn’t be prouder of our Native business students,” said Larry Gianchetta, the AIBL adviser and former dean of UM’s business college. “They demonstrated that their business acumen ranks among the best nationally.”

AIBL programs are designed to engage students in activities that stimulate, enhance and expand educational experiences beyond traditional academic methods. All students are encouraged to participate in AIBL regardless of race, academic major or career objectives. AIBL has continued to grow since its inception and welcomed 15 new chapters in 2022.

The Chapter of the Year competition at the conference highlights the unique and dedicated work of AIBL chapters through a short video summarizing past and present activities, leadership activities, integration of Indigenous Culture, community service projects and fundraising efforts. Omaste-win Foster, UM’s AIBL chapter vice president from Rosebud, South Dakota, compiled the winning UM submission.

In addition to winning Chapter of the Year, UM AIBL also won first place in the Business Pitch Competition at the national conference. The winning pitch was made by Millie Bearleggins, the UM AIBL chapter president from Browning. By winning two of the three competitions at the conference, the UM Chapter took home $2,000 in prize money.

Both competitions were separated into three divisions: high school, tribal college and university.

Along with competitions at the conference, attendees heard from keynote speakers like Sam McKracken, founder of the Nike N7 division, participated in workshops and networked with other chapter members.

- UM News Service -

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