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BSU Business Alumna Makes History

Nov 7, 2012

Bemidji State University Business Alumna Carri Jones makes history as the first woman to be elected chair of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. She graduated in 2003 with a double major in accounting and business administration.

Perseverance, along with the knowledge she gained at Bemidji State, has helped Jones advance her career through a series of promotions as a financial officer with the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe - starting as a file clerk and culminating as the chief financial officer of the multimillion-dollar organization. She thought she could do more. So last year, she ran for secretary-treasurer, the band`s second-highest elected office. She lost, but her supporters encouraged her to run again, this time for the top spot.

In a series of firsts, the 32-year-old was elected chairwoman of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe on June 12, becoming the first woman and youngest person ever to hold the tribe’s highest office and lead the tribal council. By appealing to younger voters and promising more collaborative leadership, she defeated the incumbent by seven votes. She is also the youngest chair among the six bands that comprise the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, which for the first time has four seated chairwomen, including Melanie Benjamin, another BSU graduate, who leads the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.

Jones already is in contact with her fellow women leaders, and she hopes the foursome will help the bands work more closely together. While at BSU, Jones interned with the Mille Lacs Band and later became gaming controller for the Black Bear Casino with the Fond du Lac Band in Cloquet. The different bands `can learn from one another,` she said.

Congratulations Carri!