Canku Ota

(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


June 30, 2001 - Issue 39



Helping to Break the Ceiling


 by John Stromnes of the Missoulian - June 17, 2001

Alice ChumrauPABLO, MT - Alice Chumrau says that "glass ceiling" metaphor is a pretty tired one. Nevertheless, she's devoted years to helping women advance in jobs that were not so long ago held almost exclusively by men.

Glass or not, there is some kind of social barrier there that women must overcome, she said.

"I am working with women to develop their potential - promoting them, getting their voices heard," she said in a recent interview from her office at Salish Kootenai College.

Chumrau helped start the tribal college in 1978, when she served as student services director - essentially the dean of students. Since then she has developed a child-care program to help students, especially women, to attend college, improve their job skills and raise their family.

She provides workshops for women employees on professionalism in the workplace, healthy lifestyles and has developed policies to increase awareness of sexual harassment.

She has also raised her own family - she has two sons, both grown and on their own. She formerly served as a guidance counselor at Missoula Vocational Technical Center, worked at Sentinel High School for a time and taught second grade early in her career.

Her current job is vice president for instructional programs at the tribal college in Pablo. But it is her continuing dedication to helping women that brought her to the attention of Montana Gov. Judy Martz, who recently honored her with a Montana Excellence in Leadership award at the Supreme Court Chambers in Helena.

"Alice provides excellent leadership in women working at the college and to the members of the student body," Martz said. "She has demonstrated a professional, friendly and caring way of working with students that leads them in developing good, healthy lifestyles and shows them when to be assertive and professional in all areas of their work."

Recipients of the award are chosen by the state Interdepartmental Coordinating Committee for Women from nominations across the state. She was nominated for the award by Joe McDonald, college founder and president.

"Alice leads by doing. She leads by her friendly and professional lifestyle. She has been a principal leader in the development of Salish Kootenai College," McDonald said.

Chumrau received her master's degree in guidance and counseling from the University of Montana. "I've worked in education most of my professional life, as a teacher, counselor and administrator," she said.

What is her advice to women trying to break through that invisible barrier to advancement - the glass ceiling - without getting cut by the broken glass? "Get your education, do your job as best you can and network with other women."

Map - Pablo, MT

Maps by Travel


Salish Kootenai College


Leadership Award
Governor Judy Martz gave out awards to three Montanans including one in state government, one in the public sector and one in the private sector.




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