UM’s Native American Business Leaders Named Chapter of the Year

UM’s American Indian Business Leaders chapter was recently named the best in the country. Pictured are (left to right) Chapter President Millie Bearleggins, Councilor Dr. Larry Gianchetta and Vice President Omaste-win Foster.

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

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

“We couldn’t be prouder of our Indigenous business students,” said Larry Gianchetta, BLLI Advisor and former Dean of UM’s College of Business. “They have 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 the AIBL regardless of race, academic major, or career goals. AIBL has grown steadily since its inception and welcomed 15 new chapters in 2022.

The Conference Chapter of the Year competition highlights the unique and dedicated work of BLII 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, Vice President of UM’s AIBL Chapter of Rosebud, South Dakotacompiled 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, President of the UM AIBL Chapter of Burnishing. By winning two of the conference’s three contests, the UM chapter won $2,000 in prizes.

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

In addition to competing at the conference, attendees heard from speakers like Nike N7 Division Founder Sam McKracken, participated in workshops, and networked with other chapter members.

For more information about AIBL, visit


Contact: Larry Gianchetta, Dean Emeritus of the UM College of Business and UM AIBL Advisor, 406-243-6196, [email protected]


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