Montana 2015 Fellows

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Pete Bolenbaugh, Director of Major Gifts, Rocky Mountain College

	Pete	Bolenbaugh	Pete Bolenbaugh joined Rocky Mountain College as Director of Major Gifts in May 2014. His experience working as a fundraiser for non-profit organizations, combined with the skill set acquired as a quantitative analyst for a small futures trading firm, have led him to oversee the planned giving program at RMC. He enjoys explaining the economic benefits of philanthropy, while always keeping his sights on the truly powerful and emotional impact that such gifts have.

After completing his B.A. in physics from the University of Montana, he moved back to his hometown of Billings, Montana. His background in math and physics is what led him to the financial industry. However, he felt that he could do more for his community by shifting his focus to a career in philanthropy. In his spare time, Pete enjoys volunteering his time to teach grade school children about topics like magnetism and simple machines. Above all else, he enjoys spending time with his wife and two children.


Jake Brown, Lobbyist, Montana Public Interest Group

	Jake	Brown	Jake Brown has always had a passion for politics and good governance. Hailing from Billings, Jake has had the fortune to grow up in one of the most amazing places the world can offer, Montana. That, coupled with a passion for making the world a better place through policy, has taken Jake where he is today. Jake began his journey into activism from an early age, volunteering for political campaigns when he was only 14. From there he attended the University of Montana, studying Political Science and Arabic. Having experience with campaigns, it was only natural that Jake continued in that line of work. Jake worked with an environmental group, Montana Conservation Voters, helping organize a summer canvass, and legislative endorsement committees. On top of that, he also worked closely with a city council campaign in 2013, successfully electing a progressive candidate. The most recent campaign Jake has is from spending countless hours in 2014 state-wide elections, where he worked tirelessly as a field organizer for the democratic candidates. It's safe to say that Jake has experience with working to accomplish progressive goals or electing progressive candidates.

Currently Jake lives in Helena working as a lobbyist for the 64th Legislative session. He is the conservation and clean energy lobbyist for the Montana Public Interest Research Group. In his free time, Jake enjoys spending time outdoors in the places he loves.


Erica De Forrest, Program Coordinator, Women's Opportunity and Resource Development

	Erica	De Forrest	Throughout Erica's career, she has held numerous leadership positions. While attending college in Denver between 2009-2012, she held office in many student organizations including the Student Marketing Association, Students of Business, Student Leadership Association, Commencement Committee and Homecoming Committee. During this time Erica also started the Fuse Music Community, an organization dedicated to providing musical instruments to children whose families could not otherwise afford them, as well as ran her own, not-for-profit music promotion company. After moving back to Montana in 2012, Erica continues her education at the University of Montana in Organizational Communication. She also coordinates the Parents as Leaders program at Women's Opportunity & Resource Development, a parent education program aimed to prevent child abuse and neglect. Through her time with WORD, she has become certified to facilitate Love and Logic classes and has positively impacted the lives of many parents.

As a single parent, Erica has faced many of life's obstacles. Through this she has discovered the power of a positive mental attitude. She believes in the importance of maintaining focus on the positive occurrences to endure and overcome life's challenges. She is currently working on two projects outside of her day job, one of which is a positivity campaign called The Four Letter Word Project and the other as a Executive Director for a start up non-profit, Blessings. In her free time, Erica enjoys exploring the world with her son and new puppy, creating art and soaking up the wonderful beauty that is Montana.


Jill Feldhusen, Legislative Assistant, Montana Audubon

Jill is a recent graduate of the University of Montana where she studied Political Science, International Development Studies, and WomenÕs and Gender Studies. Before graduating, Jill fulfilled a lifelong dream of working abroad and moved to Phnom Penh, Cambodia for five months, where she interned with Holt International and the Cambodian Organization for Children and Development. These experiences not only shaped her future career goals, but also challenged her in a way that was beyond expectation.

After graduation Jill took a job as a Field Organizer with the Montana Democratic Party where she worked tirelessly trying to get progressive leaders elected to the U.S. Congress. Most recently, Jill has begun working for the Montana Audubon as a Legislative Assistant for the 64th Legislative Session. Jill loves reading, spending time with any dog, coffee, travel, and taking advantage of the great lifestyle Missoula, Montana offers.


Miranda Fox, Executive Director, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital Up 'til Dawn

Miranda is currently studying Marketing and Psychology at the University of Montana with plans for graduate in May of 2015. She also serves as the Executive Director of the University of Montana student organization Up 'til Dawn; a student-led, student-ran philanthropic program dedicated to building awareness and funds for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. This past fall, Up 'til Dawn participants at UM raised over $35,000 for the kids at St. Jude. Miranda also serves as the president to the BOD for Fact & Fiction and the University of Montana Bookstore. In 2013, Miranda completed an internship with United Way of Missoula County. Stepping outside of the university district and into Missoula county offered an opportunity to learn more about the vast capacity of programs Missoula offers, as well as, a true understanding of community. Miranda also served as a Marketing/PR committee chair for Give LOCAL Missoula's first annual fundraiser.

Since her childhood, Miranda has been passionate about sex education reform in the public school system. She hopes to one day write a memoir of her personal experiences on the topic. Aside from school and community work, Miranda enjoys spending as much time as possible outdoors - skiing, biking, and (still learning) fly-fishing. She lives in Missoula with her 3-year-old miniature Australian Shepherd and 4-year-old Holland Lop rabbit.



Maria Kendra, Development Coordinator, Garden City Harvest

	Maria	Kendra	Maria Kendra is the Development Coordinator at Garden City Harvest. She holds a degree in Spanish from the University of Montana and a certificate in Nonprofit Administration and Leadership from the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance. She has traveled the world and completed a year of service as an AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteer in Service to America) at Camp Fire in Austin, Texas.

Maria is passionate about protecting and preserving the environment, educating and empowering youth as well as women's and migrant/immigrant rights. She has been involved with a variety of organizations as a volunteer including: Montana Wilderness Association, Austin Youth River Watch, and the YWCA of Missoula / GUTS! (Girls Using Their Strengths) program. In her spare time she enjoys spending time outdoors, traveling, reading and getting involved in creative endeavors.


Peter Knox, Communications & Outreach Manager, University of Montana

After living abroad in New Zealand and then completing his MA in Media Communications in the UK, Peter returned to Montana to serve as the Communications & Outreach Manager for the Phyllis J. Washington College of Education and Human Sciences at the University of Montana. His responsibilities include planning, organizing, and directing the operations of the communications and marketing programs within the College, as well as creating, developing, and managing the overall College online presence. Peter also plays a key role in assisting with development and donor stewardship responsibilities.

Interested in media and public relations, communications, and marketing, Peter is also passionate about education, LGBTQ issues and advocacy, and public health policy. Apart from this, Peter is keen on all public media, travel, skiing, hand-crafted beer, and any activity involving water. When he isn't in the office, he is hitting the slopes, volunteering for a public radio/tv pledge drive, swimming, or getting lost in another country.


June Noel, Web Designer, Washington Corporations

	June	Noel	Originally from the Philippines, June moved to the US in 2004 where she attended and later graduated from the University of Montana. June has been working for the Washington Corporations as a Web Designer. She serves as the USA liaison for WIMLER, a non-profit organization in the Philippines whose mission is to send underprivileged children to school. Most recently, through partnering with Child United, a small non-profit in Seattle benefitting the Phillippines' Typhoon Haiyan victims, June organized the Montana relief effort called Big Sky Big Heart, helped them obtain a $35,000 grant used for roofing supplies to rebuild homes, and traveled with them on a relief mission. She's the co-owner of Treats on a Trike, a local business that sells Paleo popsicles and treats. She's had the opportunity to be one of the panelist of UM's International Women's Day and a speaker at MACH1 Missoula and Big Sky Dev Con.

June has been selected as one of the Missoulian's Top 20 Under 40 young business professionals for 2014. She's also getting her Master's in Information Technology through Harvard Extension School. In her spare time, June enjoys mountain biking, cycling, fishing, hiking, reading, learning how to hang glide and crossing something off her bucket list. She also meditates daily and practices mindfulness.


Amanda Opitz, Communications Coordinator, YWCA Missoula

	Amanda	Opitz	Amanda Opitz currently works as the Communications Coordinator at YWCA Missoula, an organization that is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. The YWCA lives out this mission by working to end domestic and sexual violence in Missoula, changing lives by providing homes for homeless families, and transforming the community by empowering the next generation of women leaders. Before joining the YWCA staff in 2013, Amanda served two terms with AmeriCorps VISTA; first with Montana Public Radio and then as VISTA Leader with the Montana Campus Compact.

She has a B.A. in journalism from the University of Montana and is currently pursuing a post-baccalaureate certificate in Non-Profit Administration. In her spare time, Amanda loves to fly fish, hike, and snowshoe. She lives in Missoula with her husband Micah and dog, Annabelle.


Rachel Pauli, Organizer, Planned Parenthood of Montana

	Rachel	Pauli	Rachel Pauli joined Planned Parenthood of Montana in 2010 as a volunteer and college student, and these early experiences sparked her budding career in activism. She is now a Navigator for PPMT and Organizer for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Montana. As a Navigator Rachel helps Montanans understand and access health insurance through the Affordable Care Act Marketplace. As an Organizer Rachel engages and empowers college students and other community members in the reproductive justice movement, educates voters, and advocates for policies that protect Montanan's right to privacy and access to health care. As an advocate for young people's involvement in progressive movements, she also serves on the Board of Directors for the Forward Montana Foundation.

Rachel lives with her partner in a tiny house in Missoula. She studies wine, dabbles in humble homesteading, and adores her backyard chickens.


Stephanie Ralls, Assistant Director, Sustainable Business Council

	Stephanie	Ralls	An Oregon native, Stephanie came to Missoula to attend the University of Montana and stayed because of her love of the beautiful city, its community, and the surrounding mountains. Working towards her marketing degree she enrolled in a class at the university that addressed sustainability issues from a business perspective and realized something that really excited her: businesses can be the driving forces of change in communities and address both societal and environmental issues. With this new mindset she pursued an internship with the Sustainable Business Council, a nonprofit working in Missoula to advance a vibrant local economy built on sustainable practices. Upon graduation, she was brought on as Assistant Director at the Sustainable Business Council. In this position, Stephanie has had the opportunity to hone her skills in a variety of areas, including fundraising, programming, sales, CRM system management, design, advertising, and website maintenance. While some projects are more challenging for Stephanie than others, she enjoys the diversity of the job as she builds experience.

In addition to building her professional skill set, Stephanie is inspired to learn and create a new local economy that is prosperous for all. She believes all businesses should operate using triple bottom line practices that consider the people in a community, our planet we inhabit and of course, profit. Stephanie would one day like to start her own sustainable business, but is still waiting for the inspiration to strike. As a NLC Fellow, she is excited to develop a deeper knowledge of political issues and connect with others who have the same beliefs. As a young professional, Stephanie is eager for guidance as she looks towards the future she hopes is filled with meaningful work and service. In her off time, Stephanie can be found on nearby mountain trails running, skiing, climbing or biking. She is especially stoked when she can do these things with other women, from which she experiences a great camaraderie and empowerment like no other. It is her passion for the outdoors in general that has motivated her to work towards a world where businesses and consumers alike act responsibly, and future generations can enjoy the same inspiration that she has discovered in nature.


Micah Sewell, Recruitment Coordinator, Ecology Project International

	Micah	Sewell	Micah Sewell works for Missoula-based Ecology Project International and originally hails from the great state of Michigan. Always interested in creating a wilder, more equitable future for all, he's worked on organic farms, organized field science excursions for high school students, traveled through Scandinavian ecovillages with a film crew, and directed the FLAT, a sustainable demonstration house affiliated with the University of Montana.

He is currently striking a balance between travel-based exploration and sending down deeper roots at home in Missoula. An avid bike tourer, Micah's most recent solo tour, 1800 miles from Amsterdam to the northern edge of Norway, was a great success, and he's exploring ways to combine his twin loves of travel and his hometown. When he's not on a bike, you'll probably find him twanging a banjo, writing, fermenting something in his experimental kitchen-lab, or tending a garden.


Jillian Whelan, Administrative Assistant, Sullivan Financial Group 

Jillian was born and raised in Central California, and received her BS in Graphic Communication from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in 2009. After spending a year traveling abroad and 2 years in the Bay Area, she settled in Helena, MT in 2012. She served as an AmeriCorps VISTA for Disability Rights Montana from 2012-2013, and has been working in the legal and financial world since her VISTA term ended.

Jillian is also the co-owner of Pigment Project, where she makes, markets, and ships earrings all over the world, especially throughout Montana. Jillian spends her down time with her husband and dog-child, Grace. She enjoys being creative, swimming, doing yoga, cooking, and traveling.