Reno Charette, 59
Director, American Indian Outreach
Northern Cheyenne Reservation
By Blair Koch, University Relations and Communications, 657-2269
Reno Charette knew early on she wanted a career that would include helping other Native American students achieve success.
It’s her work as Montana State University Billings’ director of American Indian Outreach for which Charette was named one of this year’s 20 Exceptional Women by the Billings Gazette. Reno and her cohort were honored during a luncheon on Thursday.
“Getting this award is quite exciting and unexpected,” she said.
There were about 450 area women nominated for the distinguished award, now in its second year.
Reno has worked at MSUB for nearly a decade and in the director of American Indian Outreach since 2009.
“My purpose on this earth is to nurture and develop successful adults,” Reno said. “That’s the approach I took as a parent. I’m not here to be your friend. I’m here to fulfill my responsibility.”
Then, cracking a kind smile Reno adds, “but it’s okay that they know I can be their friend.”
The hub of the campus’ American Indian Outreach program is a large room that students can gather and hang out on the second floor of the Liberal Arts building. Reno has strived to make it a safe and comfortable area; she even has a pancake griddle with all the supplies necessary for a quick breakfast snack.
It’s just one of the ways Reno is an advocate for MSUB’s Native American students.
“As an undergraduate and student myself I started analyzing the university system and the common obstacles we faced how I would do things differently,” Reno said.
Reno, who grew up on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation and is a member of the Crow Tribe in Crow Agency, Montana, has leaned on her desire for education and lessons learned as a single mother of three to mentoring young Native American students.
“My favorite conversations I have are the ones where we find solutions,” she said. “Coming from a disadvantaged background, every student has a different story and needs a different toolbox.”