MISSOULA – Blackstone LaunchPad at the University of Montana, the Montana Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs and the Women’s Foundation of Montana will kick off the second session of the Pursue Your Passion program on Monday, Feb. 22, in the Payne Family Native American Center at UM.

            The event will take place in the Bonnie HeavyRunner Gathering Place from 4:30 to 7 p.m. and will include mentor matching, as well as inspiration to help participants discover their passion. Child care also will be provided in an adjacent room.
            The keynote speaker for the event is Kali Lindner, the owner of Oula Fitness. Lindner will discuss her passion and how she used it to build a successful career.
            After Lindner’s presentation, mentors and participants will meet in a speed-dating-style activity. Participants will identify which entrepreneurs and innovators will enable them to realize the true potential of their idea.
            The program, which continues throughout spring semester, is open to both current students and community members who have an interest in developing a business or nonprofit idea. The program is open to all genders, with many of the workshops emphasizing women in business and leadership roles.
            “We want to create a space for women to feel inspired, empowered and supported by one another in their creative and entrepreneurial endeavors,” said Paul Gladen, UM Blackstone LaunchPad director and Montana Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs CEO.
            Some topics for the workshops during the semester include:
·         “How-to Guide: Achieve Your Passion,” led by Morgan Slemberger and June Noel.
·         “How to Avoid Common Startup Pitfalls with Money,” led by Diane Smith and Liz Marchi.
            Those interested in participating in PYP during the spring 2016 session can register online at http://www.umt.edu/passion/.
            Blackstone LaunchPad helps UM students, alumni, faculty and staff turn their ideas, skills and passions into real-world businesses and nonprofit organizations. The organization is a cocurricular, experiential, campus program designed to introduce entrepreneurship as a viable career path and develop entrepreneurial skills and mindsets through individualized coaching, ideation and venture creation support.
            The Montana Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs promotes and projects the spirit of entrepreneurship to all UM students and Montana entrepreneurs through educational opportunities and special events. MADE is an affiliated program of the UM School of Business Administration.
            The Women’s Foundation of Montana advances economic independence for Montana women and creates a brighter future for girls.