Chen-Chow Bear Down Scholars Program Enables Eller’s Native Students to Attend American Indigenous Business Leaders Conference

Aug. 3, 2022


On July 14-15, two founding members of the Eller College of Management’s American Indigenous Business Leaders (AIBL) student chapter attended the American Indigenous Business Leaders Conference in Palm Springs, California, through a grant from the Chen-Chow Bear Down Scholars Program. The conference is a flagship event of American Indigenous Business Leaders organization, which seeks to increase the representation of American Indians and Alaska Natives in business endeavors through educational opportunities, mentorship, networking, and leadership experiences.

The two-day event was filled with workshops, student speakers, elevator pitch and business plan competitions, and inspiring keynote presentations by nationally recognized leaders Sam McCracken, brand manager of Nike’s N7 Indigenous-inspired product line, Jarvis Sam, Nike’s Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, and Holly Cook Macarro, who served in the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.

Eller undergraduate students Paige Begody and Mikal Gene, who attended the conference, described their experience as helping them gain new perspectives.

“The conference’s premise is to help Indigenous people gain education and experience within the business world; this is exactly what I saw,” says Begody. “Speakers came and spoke about their successes and failures and how they have used their work to benefit themselves and their community.”

Gene echoes this sentiment. “It was an amazing experience and I networked with so many people,” he says. “My favorite part was meeting with all the various guest speakers, including the general manager of Nike N7.”

“We are fortunate to have the support of the Chen-Chow Bear Down Scholars Program that allows our students to attend transformative events such as AIBL Conference,” says Dr. Bill Neumann, MIS Professor of Professor of Practice, who joined the AIBL students as their faculty advisor. “As I shared this experience with our students, I was able to see first-hand how the Eller College’s commitment to diversity and inclusion fosters opportunities that open doors to exciting business-related careers for our community of Native students.