MUSKOGEE, OKLAHOMA – November 10, 2020

One of Bacone College’s own – an alumnus and a vice president – was named as a Native American 40 Under 40 by the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development Center on Tuesday.

Dr. Nicole Been, a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation originally from Okemah, Oklahoma, is the college’s vice president of strategic initiatives and special projects. She is a graduate of Bacone College, Baylor University, and Oklahoma State University. Been is also the co-founder of the Been Foundation, a non-profit organization that targets youth with socioeconomic challenges.

Been joins two more Bacone College administrators who have been named as a Native American 40 Under 40: William Lowe and Mary Jo Pratt. Lowe is the college’s human resources director, also a Bacone College alumnus, who was honored in 2011. Pratt is the chief financial officer and vice president of finance who was honored in 2016.

“I’m humbled and honored to join a group of phenomenal Native American and Alaska Native leaders,” Been said, “and I am thankful to have this opportunity to represent my family, my tribal town, and the Muscogee (Creek) Nation .”

The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development Center says the 40 Under 40 winners “have exemplified leadership, initiative, and especially during COVID-19, resiliency, and dedication towards their communities and businesses.” *

Bacone College President Dr. Ferlin Clark says Been’s successes and contributions to Bacone College’s path toward becoming a tribal college are especially appreciated.

“Dr. Been has been instrumental in our tribal relations and special projects which move us closer to becoming recognized as a tribal college,” he said. “We congratulate her on this much-deserved award.”

Been’s primary focus at the college is on the vision of moving the school to public Tribal College status and serving as the tribal liaison working closely with the college’s five chartering tribes to provide distance learning to their citizens and employees. In addition, she is an associate professor of sports and recreation management at Bacone College, and has served as the Dean of the Division of Indigenous Online Teaching and Learning, Interim Athletic Director, and Title IX Coordinator. She works diligently for betterment in all areas of academics and athletics at Bacone College.

Been has dedicated much of her professional career to the world of sports and education where she has experience with the Orlando Magic of the NBA, Baylor University Lady Bears basketball program, Oklahoma State University Athletic Department, Big 12 Conference women’s basketball tournament championships, and Langston University Athletic Department.

Been’s community service includes the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Scholarship Foundation Executive Committee, Special Olympics of Oklahoma, Big 12 Conference women’s basketball youth clinics and championships, Mvskoke Aesthetic, the Miss Bacone College Indian Scholarship Pageant. She has graduate faculty status at Oklahoma State University.

She has supported and/or served a number of organizations including the Oklahoma Recreation and Park Association (executive director and vice president of recreation Victory Youth Counseling Services Board Member, Carter and Logan County Communities of Excellence Coalition Board, Langston University McCabe Scholar Research Project Committee Member, and Westwood Elementary.

She recently received her Ph.D. in health, leisure, and human performance at Oklahoma State University where she examined the utilization of leisure, including traditional forms, as a coping mechanism for depression in Native American women survivors of domestic violence.

Been is a three-times published author and her additional research interests include youth development, sports in Native American culture (particularly Native Americans’ absence in collegiate athletics), strategies to address the educational achievement gap of Native American students, and economic development and financial literacy in rural and tribal communities. Been is a recipient of the 2019 Thlopthlocco Community Member of Excellence Award and was named the 2020 Mvskoke Women’s Leadership Professional of the Year.

For more information or to request an interview, please contact the Bacone College Relations Department at [email protected] or 918-360-3866.