UM Names First Director of S.E.A. Change Initiative to Advance Gender Equity

University of Montana alumna Twila Old Coyote has been named director of the S.E.A. Change Initiative, a new UM program focused on advancing equity for all.
Twila Old Coyote
Twila Old Coyote has extensive experience working with students.

MISSOULA – The University of Montana is pleased to announce that Twila Old Coyote has been named director of the S.E.A. Change Initiative, a new program focused on advancing equity for all. Through this initiative, UM fosters an environment that is safe for women, one that uniquely empowers all women to reach their full potential while accelerating them into careers of impact.

A recent fellow of UM’s Women’s Leadership Initiative, Old Coyote is an enrolled member of the Apsáalooke tribe and a member the White Clay Nation. Her wealth of experience in creating equitable educational practices and in developing pathways into higher education has earned her a reputation as a respected partner to many communities and as a talented builder of relationships.

“Twila Old Coyote brings not only a deep commitment to building a more equitable future for all, but also an admirable ability to connect and inspire people to join her in this work,” said UM President Seth Bodnar. “I am excited about the future she will build for the S.E.A. Change Initiative.”

Old Coyote has extensive experience working with high school and university students to promote access to higher education, especially for students who come from historically marginalized populations. For the last seven years, she has served as the director of TRIO-Upward Bound, a program that builds a college-going culture among underserved and underrepresented high school students.

“We are thrilled to welcome Twila as the S.E.A. Change Initiative’s inaugural director,” said UM Chief of Staff Kelly Webster. “An impressive UM alumna, she brings to the position a long-standing personal and professional commitment to addressing disparities across gender, and a wholehearted devotion to lifting up all people. We are very lucky to welcome her into this leadership role.”

Made possible by a generous seed gift from Dennis and Gretchen Eck, the S.E.A. Change Initiative prepares students to be change-drivers who champion gender equity. Program participants will develop the skills necessary to understand, navigate and change systemic biases as they seek to become influential professionals and leaders fostering allyship across all gender identities. These students will become part of a cohort of UM students who support gender diversity and who are committed to inspiring positive change for themselves and others.

UM students who participate in the program will have the opportunity to become paid mentors to high school and middle school students and will run a S.E.A. Change summer camp on the UM campus.

Contact: Kelly Webster, chief of staff, Office of the President, 406-243-2470,