Meet the 2017 Montana Fellows
(back to NLC 2017 Fellows)
Jade Bahr, Community Coordinator and Vocational Specialist, Job Connection, Inc.
Jade Bahr was born in Crow Agency, MT which is part of the Apsaalooke Nation. Ms. Bahr is an enrolled Northern Cheyenne native. She moved to Billings with her mother and brother at age 3 and graduated from Senior High School. She began college at MSU-Billings and finished her B.A. in Sociology at the University of Montana. Jade’s efforts in life have always been geared towards humanitarian efforts and self-discovery. She worked with youth for several years as a mentor before beginning her work in the supported living and supported employment sectors for adults with disability in Billings, MT. In her spare time Jade enjoys the great Montana outdoors and attending community meetings and lectures. She strives to find opportunities to learn and be engaged in her community. In a few years Jade hopes to run for office in Montana and represent the ever growing Magic City.
Katelynn Essig, Sustainability Coodinator, Energy Corps
Katelynn Essig lives in Red Lodge, MT and is serving her second year of Energy Corps as the Sustainability Coordinator for the City of Red Lodge. She has a Master’s Degree from the University of Illinois in Sustainable Development and Policy. She’s worked on a variety of issues related to sustainability including economic development, local agriculture, and environmental reporting. Currently, she is working on energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Katelynn enjoys hiking in the Absaroka wilderness in the summer and cross-country skiing in the winter.
Kirsten Gerbatsch, Legislative Policy Intern, Montana Budget and Policy Center
Kirsten Gerbatsch works for the Montana Budget & Policy Center, a nonprofit organization that provides in-depth research and analysis on budget, tax, and economic issues. While her career has spanned several states and a variety of fields, Kirsten holds a deep commitment to engage, include and elevate the voices of those often eft out of conversations about economic policies, including women, American Indians, low-income veterans and people of color. Her fascination with American history and political movements sparked while at Reed College in Portland, OR. She dedicated her thesis to the American women’s suffrage movement and worked on small urban farms in Chicago, Philadelphia and Portland. She moved to the Midwest with a passion to increase healthy food access in low-income communities. She served with the inaugural class of FoodCorps in northern Michigan for two terms to connect kids to quality nutrition in six rural school districts. Kirsten then had the opportunity to lead Montana’s FoodCorps program for two more years. As the Montana Fellow, Kirsten initiated projects to engage service members in learning more about the federal legislation that shaped the school food environment, advocated for farm to school policies and Child Nutrition Reauthorization, and went on to co-develop the FoodCorps Alumni Policy Institute. Before joining the Montana Budget & Policy Center, Kirsten was the Montana Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee’s Missoula Fellow. She dove into the 2016 election cycle with the Montana Democratic Party, managing legislative races for two House candidates. Even though she grew up in New Jersey - the polar opposite of Montana - Helena is now home. She spends her free time skiing, biking, and hiking. If she is not adventuring outside, she is planning her next political action or community event, or just scheming up her next escape into the mountains.
Mariah Gladstone, Administrative Specialist, Governor's Office of Indian Affairs
Mariah grew up in Northwest Montana with one moccasin in the Flathead Valley and one in the Blackfeet Reservation. She graduated from Columbia University with a degree in Environmental Engineering but chose to work in political spheres through campaign organizing and tribal relations. In her free time, Mariah flexes her passion for indigenous wellness by teaching fitness and traditional cooking classes. Mariah has been recognized as one of the top 25 Under 25 leaders in Indian Country and as a Champion for Change by the Aspen Institute.
Emily Harris, Strategies 360
Born and raised in Helena, Emily graduated from Seattle University in American Politics and Women & Gender Studies. Throughout high school and college, she was heavily involved in Montana democratic politics, including working on the 2012 gubernatorial and 2014 congressional races where she uncovered her true calling of political fundraising. With her hard-earned and excruciatingly expensive diploma in hand, she returned to the Motherland to accept the position of Development Director at Forward Montana. After a short stint in the non-profit world, she was beckoned back to the political side of things to lead the fundraising efforts of Denise Juneau's historical congressional campaign. She now works at a consulting firm in her hometown dipping her toe in a little lobbying and helping to pass the much needed local school bond. Her areas of particular passion include the study of women in American politics (or the lack thereof), the (unfortunate) ongoing fight for reproductive justice, closing the gap of disenfranchisement of young people in our political system, and exploring ways to shatter the highest and hardest glass ceiling (#stillwithher). In her free time, she dabbles in all things kale, showcases new sassy shades of lipstick, searches for things to complete her alter to honor the Notorious RBG (organ donation, anyone?) and spends every second bringing down the patriarchy. She currently resides in Helena.
Emma Kerr-Carpenter, Community Education Coordinator, Youth Dynamics
Emma Kerr-Carpenter is the Community Education Coordinator for Youth Dynamics. In this role she coordinates preventative classes that reduce the stigma of mental illness, increase skills, and educate parents and the public across Montana. Prior to working for Youth Dynamics, Emma came to Montana as a Global Mission Fellow with the United Methodist Church’s Generation Transformation Program. As a Mission Fellow, Emma served in Belo Horizonte, Brazil at the after school program, Shade a Fresh Water, as an English teacher and mentor. Her next placement was in Billings, MT at Family Support Network where she worked with families whose children had been removed from the home by the Department of Family Services. Emma also serves as the chair of the Better Billings Committee of Yellowstone Valley Citizen’s Council a chapter of Northern Plains Resource Council. During her time as chair, the committee has won victories in sustainable city growth policy and the development of a local park. She graduated from Boston University where she studied International Relations and Religion with concentrations in the Middle East and cultural anthropology. When Emma is not working, she is most likely to be found in the kitchen cooking something delicious and talking very loudly and passionately about food, cats, or politics.
Heather spent her twenties exploring the world by visiting and living in many places, both in the U.S. and internationally, and she is ready to put these experiences to good use. Meeting so many different people in different places has helped Heather clarify her priorities; everywhere she's lived she has given back to her community in some way and would like to make that her focus in the future. After working with Habitat for Humanity, Sierra Club and Plan NH, Heather's biggest interest is in sustainability. She hopes to work with kids and educators to get them involved in their environment while pursuing a GIS certification.
Jessica Lee, Program Services Coordinator, Missoula Food Bank
Jessy Lee grew up in Billings and moved to Missoula in 2006 to obtain her Bachelors in Social Work. She spent most of the last seven years employed at Missoula Food Bank in a variety of capacities, including program management. When she wasn't working, she was exploring the world, including a 1-year stay in New Zealand. She is currently enrolled at the University of Montana studying a Masters of Public Administration and interning at Soft Landing Missoula.
Meghan Montgomery, Masters Candidate, Resource Conservation
Meghan was born on the Front Range of the Colorado Rockies, and spent her childhood bushwhacking up drainages at the headwaters of the Rio Grande River. Meghan earned a BA in Environmental Science and International Relations from the University of Colorado in Boulder in 2012, where she focused on issues of water resources and identity politics in the Colorado River Basin and the Jordan River Basin in the Middle East. Ms. Montgomery is currently pursing an MS in Resource Conservation, in the International Conservation and Development Program, specifically on conservation in coffee agricultural landscapes in Central America. She is interested in conservation issues on “working lands,” the matrix of agricultural landscapes that border the protected public lands that Montana is renowned for. She is further intrigued by ways that scientifically-informed decisions on private lands can help provide for a better quality environment for Montana's people and creatures, and help our valuable agricultural producers responsibly steward their natural resources. She am excited to be part of this year's class of NLC fellows and for the inspiration to come from this group of progressive Montanans!
Rachel Pauli, Organizing and Outreach Manager, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Montana
Rachel joined Planned Parenthood Advocates of Montana in 2010 as a volunteer and college student, and these early experiences sparked her budding career in activism. She now is the Organizing and Outreach Manager for PPAMT. Rachel engages and empowers supporters in the reproductive freedom 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 voices to be heard and valued, she has served on Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Young Leaders Advisory Council. Rachel Pauli was born and grazed in Montana – she lives in Missoula and loves brunch, bees, baths, bison, bubbly beverages, bicycles, and bolo ties.
Ann Truesdell, Executive Director, National Association of Social Workers
Ann was born and raised in Townsend, MT. She studied psychology and journalism at North Idaho College and University of Idaho. Ms. Truesdell’s passion for social justice started early in high school and she started to build her career during that time while working as a volunteer coordinator for a non-profit working to get young adult voters registered to vote. After graduating with a bachelor’s from University of Idaho, Ann moved to Missoula, MT to attend graduate school for social work. During her first year, she was a practicum student at Missoula Interfaith Collaborative and worked to bring awareness of sexual and domestic violence issues to the faith communities involved in the organization. During Ann’s second year, she worked at the YWCA of Missoula as a sexual assault crisis responder and clinical intern. She also served on the Social and Racial Justice Committee, the Make Your Move Steering Committee and the University Council on Sexual Assault. Upon graduation, Ann started working as a therapist at a teenage girls group home in Helena, MT, and has served on the Social and Racial Justice Committee of the YWCA of Helena for approximately two years. One year ago, Ann started my own business as an Arbonne Independent Consultant and she continues to serve people in that role as she helps people discover healthier ways to take care of their skin and nutrition. In November 2016, Ms. Truesdell started as the Executive Director of the National Association of Social Workers - Montana Chapter. In her free time, she enjoys traveling around Montana and the great Northwest as well as spending time with family and friends by the river. Ann looks forward to NLC and spending time learning and growing with other great professionals across the state.
Kimberly Weaver, Multi-media Specialist, Hagadone Digital
Kimberly lives, works and plays in the Flathead Valley, Montana. She graduated from Beloit College in Wisconsin with a degree in Theatre Arts: Communication. After graduating she joined the 2012 Mississippi Delta Corps with Teach For America. She spent three years teaching middle & high school art in rural Arkansas. During her time in Arkansas, Kimberly became a Walton Scholar and completed a Masters degree from Arkansas Tech University in Educational Leadership. Through her school she became a New Tech Teacher Trainer, which allowed her to be a teacher leader and assist other teachers in the creation of their project based lessons. In the summer of 2014, with her fellow TFA co-worker and friend, she was the keynote speaker for the New Teach Annual Conference in New Orleans. In 2015 Kimberly returned to Montana to be closer to family, the mountains and to teach middle school math and computers at St. Matthew's in Kalispell. She currently works at The Daily Inter Lake in Kalispell as a Multi- Media Specialist, helping local business navigate their presence online. In her free time she loves volunteering at the Humane Society and as a board member for The Hockaday Museum of Art, reading, hiking, camping, having marathon movie weekends with her family, and sharing her passion for education.
Katharina Werner, Gender-Based Violence Consultant
Ms. Werner has worked in the social services field for over ten years and has extensive experience with women, men and children impacted by trauma, homelessness, domestic and sexual violence, commercial sexual exploitation and human trafficking. She worked at the YWCA Missoula for seven years and coordinated a program for homeless families, oversaw the women’s shelter, and acted as the Domestic and Sexual Violence Program Manager. For the past several years, she has focused on developing and presenting trainings on the issues of commercial sexual exploitation and trauma-informed care to spread awareness and educate law enforcement, community and crime victim advocates, medical personnel, students, and community members across Montana. In addition to her experience in the United States, Ms. Werner has also had the opportunity to address social justice issues on a global level working in Germany, India, and parts of SE Asia. Most recently, she spent three months in Phnom Penh, Cambodia as a trauma consultant for Hope for Justice, a NGO working to end human trafficking in Asia, Europe, and the US. Currently, Ms. Werner teaches as an adjunct professor at the University Of Montana School Of Social Work, is in the process of starting her own counseling and consulting business with a focus on gender-based violence and trauma exposure, and is a new Board Member for Blue Mountain Clinic in Missoula. She received her MSW from the University of Montana in 2012 and holds a Clinical Social Worker License.
Beth Williams, Red Lodge Area Food Partnership Council, FoodCorps
Beth currently lives in Red Lodge, Montana. She graduated from Seattle University in 2014 with a Bachelors in Humanities for Teaching, and Minors in History and Political Science. In college Beth was involved with multiple causes including a minimum wage campaign and low income housing advocacy. After graduating, Beth moved to Billings to serve with Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Yellowstone County. She is now in her second year with FoodCorps in Red Lodge. Beth is passionate about working with individuals to make systemic level change. In her free time she enjoys playing hockey, cross country skiing, and baking seasonally appropriate desserts.
Anna Zelaya, Doctoral Candidate, Microbiology and Immunology
Anna Zelaya received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Environmental Biology at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona before pursuing graduate studies at Montana State University, Bozeman. She is currently a doctoral candidate in Microbiology and Immunology. Her research focuses on how microbes interact with and are affected by their geophysical and geochemical surroundings in soils and groundwater. Understanding how microbial communities respond to changes in their environment is fundamental to developing strategies and technologies aimed at monitoring and improving environmental quality and health. Anna is also passionate about education and has earned a College Teaching Certificate offered through the College of Education at Montana State University. She aspires to pursue a career in education and promote science literacy among the general public. She has taken active roles in the Graduate Employee Organization as well as the Graduate Student Network at MSU. She continues to increase her involvement with progressive organizations in Montana, and is inspired by communities coming together to affect positive change.