W.E.L.L. Native Women Launch Program
About the Program
The Google.org Impact Challenge for Women and Girls commits $25 million to fund organizations creating pathways to prosperity for women and girls. This is an open call for applications, and selected charitable initiatives will receive up to $2 million, as well as opportunities for mentorship and additional support from Google. Native Women Launch, a W.E.L.L. program based out of MonTEC, was one of 34 organizations selected out of over 8,000 applicants globally.
The “Native Women Launch” project provides relevant and tribally diverse online courses focused on business ownership and personal finance. Courses will feature case studies of Montana native women and will be distributed through the existing channels of University of Montana, Salish Kootenai College, Blackfoot Community College, and the W.E.L.L. Women’s Business Center whose charge is to support urban, rural, and indigenous women across the state of Montana. Throughout the course of the grant, Native Women Launch hopes to develop further opportunities to deliver curriculum through tribal, economic development organizations, additional tribal colleges, and libraries.
The purpose of Blackfeet Community College is to provide the Blackfeet Nation and our “universal community” access to quality educational programs that prepare students for achievement in higher education, meaningful employment, basic skills instruction, and community education, while integrating the Blackfeet culture and language.
The mission of Salish Kootenai College is to provide quality post-secondary educational opportunities and support for Native Americans, locally and from throughout the United States, to achieve their academic and career goals. The College will perpetuate the cultures of the Selis, Ksanka, and Qlispe’ peoples. The College will impact its community through service and research.
WELL supports Montana women in order to create more equitable, prosperous, and collaborative futures for all.
Montana Technology Enterprise Center is a high growth, technology-focused business incubator and serves as University of Montana’s startup hub and workforce development vehicle. WELL hosts programming both at MonTEC and at UM.
Meet the Team
Diana Bigby, Manager, W.E.L.L. Native Women Launch, MPH, Nakoda from Fort Belknap Indian Community. She is the founder of the Fort Belknap Girls Society, which helps empower local Native girls while providing culturally relevant activities, as well as education about current health issues. Diana is married to her high school sweetheart and they have 5 children together. She is an alumnus of Harlem High School where she received her diploma with honors. She graduated with an A.A.S. in Allied Health from Aaniiih Nakoda College, formerly Fort Belknap College. Diana earned her B.S. in Health and Human Performance-Community Health from the University of Montana in 2013. While working as a program manager for her tribes, she earned a Master of Public Health from the University in the summer of 2020. Diana has committed her last 8 years of her career to working for her people and would now like to extend her work throughout Indian Country. Diana is an advocate for Native women and girls and considers herself as a voice for the voiceless. She was asked to describe herself in 6 words and she responded with, “On a mission to Empower Women!”
Email: email@example.com, Phone Number: (406)344-2102.
Rachel Andrews-Gould, MBA is the Dean of the Business Division at Salish Kootenai College.
Rachel has been with the college since 2014, starting as the Director of Human Resources and transitioning to the Business Division in 2019. She has a wide breadth of experience and knowledge not only in business but also as an entrepreneur herself. In addition to working with SKC, she also has a robust consulting business specializing in managerial development, HR analysis, and training. She has worked for numerous multi-national companies over the years, starting with S&K Technologies, one of the first multi-million dollar companies started by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, including Four Season Hotels and Resorts where she worked all over the world, Aman Resorts, and Ritz Carlton Properties. Rachel came back to her home reservation in 2010 to give back to her community and to be part of the vibrant native culture of her homeland. She and her husband Greg own a bed and breakfast in the Mission Valley where they welcome people from all over the world.
Marlene Doney has owned and run an operational ranch, overseen procurement management for the Blackfeet Tribe, served as the Director of the Blackfeet Tribal Credit Program overseeing six people and the loan program, and is a native woman landowner in Browning, Montana. Currently, Marlene is the Chair of the Business and Information Technology Division at Blackfeet Community College. She graduated with an A.S. Business Management from Blackfeet Community 2005 with Honors, then went on to University of Montana where she earned a B.S. Business Administration and BA in Native American Studies 2009, and then finished her esteemed academic career at Jones International University graduating with a Business Administration and Accounting Masters with Cum Laude Honors 2015.
Dacia: SKC business faculty, Dacia Whitworth, was a Native American woman entrepreneur whose work is committed to improving economic opportunities for Native entrepreneurs. Native American Woman, single mother, high school dropout with a master's degree, who is driven by her commitment to help others reach their full potential. In addition, she has successfully launched multiple businesses and has worked for successful tribal corporations and is known in her community as a leader.
Makenzi Skellengeris a recent graduate of Salish Kootenai College (SKC) and lives and works on the Confederated Salish Kootenai Reservation. She is a recent graduate of SKC’s Business Administration Program and is completing her MBA in American Indian Entrepreneurship at Gonzaga University.