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A pilot group of rural community builders began work on doctoral degrees through the Rural Development Leadership Network. They enrolled in a non-campus-based doctoral program at the Union Institute. Michelle Landsowne completed the degree.


Michele Lansdowne is head of the Business Department at Salish Kootenai College in Pablo, Montana, where she founded the Tribal Business Information Center and developed the bachelor's degree in Business. She holds an M.B.A. from Western Washington University and a Master's in German Literature from the University of Washington. In the RDLN/Union Ph.D. program, she completed her degree Indian entrepreneurship, and her participation is supported by the Theodore R. and Vivian M. Johnson Foundation in Albany, CA.

Julie Moss has been elected Treasurer of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, where she has been Director of Federal Programs. She earned her master's degree from Antioch University through the RDLN program. Part of her Ph.D. tuition has been paid with an award she received as a former VISTA Volunteer. She has represented the interests of rural women at international meetings and is currently assisting the Native Women's Cooperative Project to develop their organization, products and markets in cooperation with RDLN's Rural Women's Product Development & Marketing Venture..

Rufus Lee Smith, executive director of Affordable Home Ownership Corp. (AHOC) in Jacksonville, Florida, is a licensed real estate broker and developer who earned a bachelor's degree from Edward Eaters College and studied in the Master of Divinity program at the Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia. He recently participated in a seminar on community development at the Harvard Divinity School. The focus of his Ph.D. work is economic development with emphasis on a nearby brownsfield area.

Two additional Ph.D. candidates joined the program during the winter of 2000/2001:

1) Lisa Little Chief Bryan, who was on the faculty of Sinte Gleska College on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota when she joined the program. She completed all but the diseritation.

2) Jorge Botello, Executive Director of the Community Council of Southwest Texas in Uvalde, Texas.