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Native women entrepreneurs begin 1-week training program on Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Project DreamCatcher is a collaboration between Freeport-McMoRan, Thunderbird School of Global Management at ASU

Women seated in an audience smiling.

Twenty-seven Native American women entrepreneurs graduated from the September 2023 cohort of Project DreamCatcher on Sept. 15. Photo courtesy the Thunderbird School of Global Management

October 10, 2023

Since 2015, the Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University, in partnership with the Freeport-McMoRan Foundation, has been empowering Native American women entrepreneurs through the no-cost business development program Project DreamCatcher.

On Oct. 9, Indigenous Peoples’ Day, the program kicked off its latest session with participants from Arizona and New Mexico tribal communities. The one-week program is designed to build the capacity of Native women business owners and is taking place at the headquarters of the Thunderbird School of Global Management on ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus.

“Our October session starts as we wrap up our hugely successful September cohort," said Dinora Gonzalez, senior project manager at Thunderbird School of Global Management. "More than 180 women have graduated from Project DreamCatcher since the program began in 2015, and it has fostered the creation and success of over 80 businesses. With the support of Freeport-McMoRan, we have empowered Native women to pursue their dreams, arming them with the skills they need to succeed.”

This year's September cohort saw 27 women graduate from Project DreamCatcher. During the one-week program, they participated in graduate-level classes taught by Thunderbird faculty, coaching and advising sessions with business professionals, and networking activities designed to impart new skills and the confidence to start or grow a business.

“We are proud to support female Native entrepreneurs with Thunderbird through the DreamCatcher program,” said Ondrea Barber, manager of Native American relations at Freeport-McMoRan. “The experience these women have at Thunderbird is valuable because they learn from each other and feel supported by people who have shared life experiences. The interpersonal relationships built during these cohorts are just as valuable as the business skills they are developing.”

The women in the cohort have a vast array of experiences — from technology and procurement to health services, wellness and counseling; fashion, design and art; culinary ventures; and various forms of business management. What they all have in common is the desire to grow their business, keeping their culture and community at the forefront. Many are taking on these challenges while being caretakers and completing their education at the same time.

All program costs, including classroom instruction, lodging and meals, are free of charge, which is made possible due to the support of the Freeport-McMoRan Foundation in partnership with Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University.

Group of Native American women who are graduates of Project DreamCatcher.

The graduation ceremony for the September 2023 cohort of Project DreamCatcher was held Sept. 15 on ASU's Downtown Phoenix campus. Photo courtesy the Thunderbird School of Global Management

Graduates of the Project DreamCatcher September 2023 cohort are:

Angelena Johnson-Calderón (White Mountain Apache)
Angelita Casale (Pascua Yaqui Tribe)
Cassandra Enriquez (Navajo)
Ciara Minjarez (White Mountain Apache)
Daili Lister (Hopi)
Dawn Manuelito (Navajo)
Dorthea Litson (Navajo)
Emma Hughes (San Carlos Apache)
Francesca Lester (San Carlos Apache)
Jacquelyn Aranda (Navajo)
Jolee Taylor (Tohono O’odham)
Kaitlyn Newman (San Carlos Apache)
Karissa Owens (Navajo)
Kayla Cromwell (White Mountain Apache)
Kelly Cassadore (Navajo)
Leann Lewis (Navajo)
Leigh Ramon (Tohono O’odham)
Matilda Joe (Tohono O’odham)
Myriah Cypriano (Tohono O’odham)
Nicolette Gomez (Pascua Yaqui Tribe)
Page Mull (San Carlos Apache)
Polly Walker (White Mountain Apache)
Rantrivia Tsosie (Navajo)
Rose Ann Littleman (Navajo)
Shannon Clark-Holiday (Navajo)
Shawna Jones (Navajo)
Shekira Beach (White Mountain Apache)
Sophie Hungrywolf (Tohono O’odham)
Storm Tso (Hopi)
Tina Gomez (Tohono O’odham)

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