AIBL Honors Founders’ Legacy for Training Native Business Leaders

American Indian Business Leaders (AIBL) honored its founding members on Saturday, April 28, 2018 PHOENIX  (May 1, 2018) – At the close of its annual leadership conference, American Indian Business Leaders (AIBL) honored its founding members on Saturday, April 28, 2018 by creating the AIBL Founders Scholarship. The endowment was established to honor Dave Archambault, Dr. Joe McDonald and Dr. Larry Gianchetta for their 24 years of dedication to empowering tribal business students.

“We are proud to announce a new scholarship endowment honoring the founders of the national organization, American Indian Business Leaders,” said AIBL Executive Director Prairie Bighorn. “One of the greatest needs our students have is scholarships. To be able to honor our founding board members and provide funding for our students is a win for all of us. AIBL is excited to partner with the AIGC team on this project!”

The $50,000 AIBL Founders Scholarship was created as a permanent tribute to honor the dedication and support of the three founding board members who have served AIBL since its creation in 1994. The annual scholarship will be for AIBL business students with a GPA of 2.5 or higher who demonstrate leadership skills, cultural involvement and community service.

The AIBL Founders Scholarship will be administered by the American Indian Graduate Center (AIGC) based in Albuquerque, NM.  AIGC and AIGC Scholars are the largest scholarship providers to American Indian and Alaskan Native students in the United States, providing more than $200 million since its inception in 1969. AIGC awards $15 million annually to deserving undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate students.

“These men are not only the founding board members of AIBL but also are three of the most influential leaders in tribal business education,” said Angelique Albert, AIGC Executive Director. “They have forged the way for many students, and through this endowment their legacy will continue to give to students into perpetuity.”

The AIBL Founders Scholarship was established with seed money from a golf tournament, a generous donation from Salish Kootenai College, and individual donations to honor these respected founders for their work while creating scholarship opportunities for current business students. The endowment was started with $17,500 and will be fully endowed once it reaches $50,000; donors are still welcome to contribute through AIGC.

Speaking to hundreds of business students and leaders at the AIBL awards ceremony, National Indian Gaming Association Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr. said, “It was a great honor to speak to these powerful young business leaders. We enjoyed a lot of good discussions centering around historical roles in leadership and being a warrior in business. I called on them to help educate America about the strength of our people and to encourage their peers down this path of leadership.”

For AIBL’s three founding members, the announcement of the endowed scholarship was a complete surprise. Dave Archambault said he wondered why his family from North Dakota suddenly appeared at the awards dinner.

“It is a very special honoring for me,” Archambault said. “AIBL is an organization that I really believe in. It’s an answer to poverty on reservations by training and invigorating the youth with business knowledge and development. I wrote the original ANA grant to start AIBL formally as a national organization. It has been a real struggle in the past to keep us going and we all have Larry Gianchetta to thank for finding us financing. My reward is seeing the student ideas and competition.”

Dr. Larry Gianchetta said, “I am delighted that this fund has been set up to help Native business students! It is an honor to have worked with Joe and Dave over the last 24 years to support the AIBL organization and our students.”

The American Indian Business Leaders organization was founded in 1994 with the goal of increasing the representation of American Indians and Alaska Natives in business and entrepreneurial ventures through education and leadership development opportunities. AIBL’s vision over the next decade is to become the pre-eminent national non-profit organization serving American Indians and Alaska Natives by providing business and entrepreneurship education, leadership development training, and the necessary support to help young men and women who aspire to pursue studies and careers in business, entrepreneurship, or related disciplines.

Bios for board members can be found at:

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Photo credit:  Joshua Tso

1 – American Indian Business Leaders founding board members Dr. Larry Gianchetta, Dave Archambault and Dr. Joe McDonald (not pictured) were honored by the establishment of $50,000 AIBL Founders Scholarship to honor their 24 years of service empowering Native business students. (l to r), AIBL Executive Director Prairie Bighorn, Dr. Larry Gianchetta, Dave Archambault, and AIGC Executive Director Angelique Albert.

2 – AIGC Executive Director Angelique Albert, National Indian Gaming Association Chairman Ernie Stevens, Sr. (second from right) and AIBL Executive Director Prairie Bighorn (far right) congratulate Dr. Larry Gianchetta and Dave Archambault on the AIBL Founders Scholarship created to honor them.


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