Liz Ross is the Executive Director for the Southwest Colorado Small Business Development Center, hosted by Fort Lewis College (FLC). Prior to joining the SBDC, she was the director of the MBA Program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the Director of Rural and Outreach for Alaska.
Her experience includes being the CEO and Chairman of the Board of an Alaska Native Corporation, working in the tax department of Ernst & Whinney, as well as various community volunteer work.
Robert J. Harrison was the Chairman and Founder of Red Cloud Food Services, Inc. and Red Cloud Inc. Bob was born and raised on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota where he is an enrolled citizen.
Bob founded each company for a specific purpose. RCFS was founded in 1998 and was later certified as an 8(a) Company by the SBA. RCFS is a national and international manufacturer of food products.
John Turmell graduated in 1964 from The University of Montana with a bachelor’s degree in business, majoring in management. After graduation, he worked at his family’s auto dealership in Missoula and, a short time later, he enrolled in the General Motors Institute where he received a degree in Dealership Management.
John retired at the beginning of 2002, after 33 years of service. John continues to be active in the UM Alumni Association activities and is on several boards.
Mary Ellen Turmell is a graduate of The University of Montana. Following graduation, she taught school in Great Falls, Montana. She is a trustee emeritus of the University of Montana Foundation, and currently serves as President of the University of Montana Alumni Association.
She also serves on the board of the Flathead Lakers. She is a member of Alpha Phi Sorority, Daughters of the American Revolution, and PEO. She lives with her husband, John, in California and Bigfork.
After owning and running a number of businesses for 35 years, Don has spent the last 8 years dedicated to evolving the Owner-Contractor relationship specifically in Native Communities as it relates to long-term success in residential and commercial construction.
Tribal Building Solutions has developed, designed and completed residential & commercial projects ranging from $1.5M to $17M over the last few years.
Dean of the School of Business Administration at The University of Montana, received his Ph.D. in Mathematical Statistics at Texas A&M University in 1975. In the summer of 1990, Dr. Gianchetta attended Harvard University and went through their Management Development Program.
He was a visiting scholar at Nankai University in Tianjin, China, in the spring of 1992 and has also lectured at Toyo University in Tokyo, Japan.
Dr. McDonald, a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, was born in St. Ignatius, MT. His good family gave him self-confidence and other tools to become a role model in an increasingly divided world. Western Montana College recognized Joe’s potential early.
Joe previously served on the Board of the American Indian College Fund and the American Indian Higher Education Consortium.
David Leon Archambault, Sr. was born on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, a Hunkpapa or Sitting Bull flavored Lakota, and has received the Lakota name Itazipo Wakinyan /Thunder Bow. He graduated high school from Red Cloud Indian School in 1966, Black Hills State University in 1976 in Education, and has a Masters in Education Administration from Penn State in 1984.
Archambault has worked as an educator, administrator, and consultant at Indian schools and Tribal Colleges.
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Kathy graduated from Montana State University with a bachelor’s degree in English/Business Education, teaching, and from the University of Montana with a Master’s degree in Curriculum & Instruction.
Kathy has been an educator for 29 years, teaching in various districts in Montana, Alaska, and Arizona. She also worked two years for the Office of Public Instruction in Helena, MT– working onsite at both Hays/Lodgepole Schools and Heart Butte Schools as an Instructional Leader.
While working in Missoula’s School District in the Indian Education Dept., she served as the Title VII Indian Ed. Specialist and teacher. While in that capacity, Kathy became a co-advisor to two Missoula high school AIBL Chapters. She also started and co-advised AIBL Chapters at both Hays and Heart Butte Schools. Over the years, she has seen all the positive things AIBL has done for her students—it has been a tremendous opportunity for them and for future AIBL members. Now, it is truly inspiring seeing new AIBL Chapters evolve.
In her spare time Kathy enjoys gardening, hiking, reading, beading, and playing the piano.
Tessa Sayers grew up in Washington State on a small llama farm. She is a certified Native American artist with her tribe, Turtle Mountain Chippewa, a poet, holistic health enthusiast, and seeker of personal growth and healing. Her creativity is inspired by her indigenous roots encompassing three tribal communities; Chippewa, Cree, and Metis. In 2017, Tessa created the brand Soul Curiosity to inspire holistic healing through the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual elements of the Medicine Wheel. Through art, she uses a variety of mediums to tell stories empowering others to cultivate more love, embrace vulnerability, heal the shadow self, and live courageously.
While obtaining a B.A. in Sociology with a focus in Native American studies from Western Washington University, she was the co-director of the Native American Mentoring Program at WWU, spending time on the Lummi Reservation tutoring and mentoring youth. In 2005, she was accepted into the Native American Teacher Training Program, attaining an M.Ed. in Educational Psychology at the University of Utah and became a counselor at NAYA ECA, a Native American high school in Portland, Oregon. In 2010, Tessa transitioned to the Nike World Headquarters at Nike N7, a brand within Nike that inspires and enables Native and Aboriginal youth to be physically active. After meeting her husband in 2016, she moved back home to Port Orchard and oversaw marketing and business development for Wenaha Group, a Native-owned construction management company. With an opportunity to support her local community, Tessa joined Kitsap Regional Library as their marketing manager, overseeing nine branches that served 271,000 residents. Currently, she is the director of marketing and program development for the National American Indian Business Leaders. In this role, she empowers Indigenous youth business leaders with the experience necessary to lead tribal communities in economic development and entrepreneurship activities.
Besides working on her next creative venture, Tessa enjoys time with her parents and friends. She spends her evenings in the country with her husband, two dogs, Tule and Rollo, farm cat Boo, and 12 chickens.
Before joining AIBL she worked in Albuquerque, NM and Washington, DC for the Federal Government. She retired from the Federal government in June of 2019 after working 33 years as a Budget Analyst, Management Analyst, Program Analyst, and Health System Analyst with IHS, DOJ, SAMSA, and BIA. She is a certified Life Coach and yoga instructor and has a BS in Health Care Administration from Idaho State University. She is a member of the Cherokee Nation.
In her free time she enjoys hiking, snow shoeing, walking her dog Ruby, reading, refinishing furniture and making bath products. She is very passionate about inspiring others to be their best self. She believes in passing on her knowledge and life skills she has developed in her journey to others.