Director of Strategic Engagement /
Project Director for Hometown Competitiveness
Rural Policy Research Institute
Don Macke serves as a Director with the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship. The Center (www.energizingentrepreneurs.org) works throughout the United States and Canada supporting research, outreach, professional development and policy work related to rural entrepreneurship.
The Center is part of the Rural Policy Research Institute (www.rurpri.org ) or RUPRI. RURPI is a leading national rural research and policy think tank focusing in multiple areas including telecommunications, health care, poverty, governance, informatics and economic development.
Don has over 35 years of experience in the field of rural community economic development. He has served in the Nebraska Legislative, the Cabinet of the Nelson Administration in Nebraska, worked as a consultant in nearly 40 states, Canada and the Caribbean. Since joining the Center, Don has logged over 1 million miles traveling throughout rural America.
Don has a MA in Regional Economics and a BS in Environmental Science from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. Lincoln Nebraska is Don's home. He is married to Jenny Carver, a Pre-School Special Education Teacher and they have two sons - Sam and Eric.
Farm Service Agency
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Bruce Nelson was selected to serve as the Administrator for the Farm Service Agency in July 2011. Nelson previously served as state executive director for the Montana Farm Service Agency, a position he was appointed to in 2009 by President Obama.
Nelson, who hails from Fort Benton, Montana, served as the State Executive Director (SED) of Montana since 2008, and previously served as SED from 1993-2000, when he was awarded the Administrator's Distinguished Service Award. He has also served as the Chief of Staff to Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer and holds an executive role at Triangle N Farms, Inc. For several years Nelson served as Construction Project Manager with the Zoot Construction Company. He received the USDA Secretary Honor Award in 1995 and also received the National award from the Intertribal Agriculture Council in 2000. He spent many summers working on a family farm and holds a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Montana. He and his wife, Nancy, have three grown children.
John Robert Smith
President and CEO
Co-chairman of Transportation for America
John Robert Smith is the former Mayor of Meridian, Mississippi, and a long-time leader on behalf of passenger rail. He is co-chairman of Transportation for America, a former Chairman of Amtrak's board, and a former member of the transportation committees of the National League of Cities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, as well as former co-chairman of the National Forum on the Future of Passenger Rail.
Workshop Session #1
Tuesday, May 15 (2:15 – 3:45 pm)
Brent Moore: Community planner, CTA
In 2007 Brent Moore opened an office for CTA (an architecture, engineering, and planning firm) in Red Lodge and has been providing planning services to public and private sector clients throughout the region for the past five years. At CTA, Brent is responsible for managing community planning services related to long-range planning, growth management and development services. Brent earned an undergraduate degree from Saint Olaf College and a Master’s of Science degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Florida State University. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners, and has experience working in the non-profit, public and private sectors.
Lisa Titus: One Montana
Lisa Titus is the director of One Montana – a program led by the Rural Landscape Institute and the Montana University System that develops strong communities through rural/urban partnerships. Before joining One Montana, Lisa Titus was the Director of Development for MontanaPBS. Lisa is an alumni of the Leadership Montana class of 2011 and the 2009 Northwestern University Media Executive Leadership Program. She has lived in Bozeman for 19 years.
Mary Helgeson: Eastern Area Health Education Center
Mary Helgeson is the Director of the Eastern Montana AHEC. Mary was previously the Student Placement Coordinator for AHEC and worked directly with medical students from WWAMI, PNWU and a variety of other medical schools throughout the country. Mary has also worked with PA, pharmacy, and undergraduate students. She has a BA degree in Elementary Education from California State University in Chico.
Lawrence L. White, Jr.: Western Area Health Education Center
Lawrence White (Larry) is an Associate Professor in the School of Public and Community Health Sciences at The University of Montana and also the Director of the Western Montana AHEC at UM. Larry was the President and CEO of St. Patrick Hospital and Health Sciences Center in Missoula, MT for 23 years until his retirement in 2003. Since, he has served as a health care consultant and the interim CEO at three Montana critical access hospitals. He holds a BA in Accounting from the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN and a Master in Healthcare Administration from St. Louis University.
Lisa Benzel: South Central Area Health Education Center
Lisa Benzel has nearly 24 years of rural healthcare experience. In her current position, as Director of the South Central Montana AHEC, she focuses on healthcare workforce issues throughout the state. This includes involvement in numerous pipeline activities, for students K-12 that help develop the next generation of healthcare providers as well as working with healthcare undergraduates and medical students. Her main role is to recruit healthcare professionals, interested in the quality of life offered in Montana’s rural communities, and match those candidates with open positions.
Natalie Claiborne: Assistant Director of the MT Office of Rural Health
Natalie is an alumnus of Montana State University, earning her Bachelors of Science in Community Health Education in 2005. Following her time in Bozeman, Natalie attended Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon earning her Masters of Public Health in 2007. Natalie joined the Montana Office of Rural Health and Area Health Education Program Office in September of 2007 and currently serving as Assistant Director of the Office of Rural Health. Outside of the office Natalie enjoys many adventures with her husband, daughter Bryn, son Reid and Ellie, their golden retriever.
Barbara Andreozzi: MSU Extension Service-Deer Lodge County
Barbara Andreozzi has been the MSU Community Development Extension Agent for Anaconda-Deer Lodge County since 1988. She was an International Local Economic Renewal consultant and Senior Project Analyst for Worldwide Strategies 1999 – 2008, working in Poland, Macedonia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Croatia, Serbia and Armenia on USAID, DOL and World Bank projects. She has been a trainer for many programs and has served on the National Community Coaches Team as well as the CBM National Extension team since its formation in 2003. Barbara’s Anaconda projects have received many honors and awards locally and nationally.
Cindy Kittredge: Folk Arts and Market Development Specialist, Montana Arts Council
Kittredge is responsible for creating and implementing the nationally recognized Montana Artrepreneur Program, which is designed to help artists learn entrepreneurship skills and establish themselves in successful businesses. She also serves on the Montana Preservation Alliance Board. Cindy received a BA from the University of Montana, an MA from Arizona State University, and a doctorate from Montana State University. She also attended the College of William and Mary, and has done post-graduate work in anthropology and museology, and has received entrepreneurship training from the Sirolli Institute.
Sarah Calhoun: Red Ants Pants founder and owner
In October 2006, Sarah opened the doors to the first ever company dedicated to making work pants for women, Red Ants Pants. Previously Sarah spent five years instructing for Outward Bound and leading trail crews in outdoor education programs. Sarah received her degree in Environmental Studies from Gettysburg College. She moved to White Sulphur Springs in 2005 and set up her office, storefront, and distribution center in an old historic saddle shop.
Jan Tusick: Mission Mountain Food Enterprise Center
Jan Tusick is the Director of Lake County Community Development Corporation’s Mission Mountain Market Food Enterprise Center - a Food and Agriculture and Cooperative Development Center. During the last 15 years Jan has effectively facilitated cooperative groups and value added agricultural ventures in their business development, assisting with business and market planning, capitalization, and feasibility analysis. Jan holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Agricultural Science, from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA. She presently lives on an eighty acre sheep farm with her husband, Will, and their main production is natural lamb, which they direct market.
Workshop Session #2
Tuesday, May 15 (4 pm – 5:30 pm)
Cathy Costakis: Active Living Coordinator, Montana NAPA
Cathy is the Active Living Coordinator for the Montana Nutrition and Physical Activity program (NAPA). Cathy is responsible for building partnerships statewide to implement evidence-based strategies that address environmental and policy approaches to promoting and supporting physical activity. For the past two years Cathy has worked on a statewide Communities Putting Prevention to Work initiative focused on Complete Streets. She currently serves as the president of the board of directors of the National Society of Physical Activity Practitioners in Public Health and served two years on the Bozeman Planning Board. Cathy holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Illinois and a master’s degree in health promotion from MSU-Bozeman.
Joe Gilpin: Alta Planning + Design
Joe is a Principal at Alta Planning + Design in Bozeman and is one of Alta’s experts in non-motorized facility design. Joe has worked both as a project designer and as a planner, analyzing network connectivity and corridor planning. Joe managed the development of the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide and has been actively involved in the creation of design standards for many cities within the United States. Joe currently manages Alta projects in the Rocky Mountain States including Utah, Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Alaska. He holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering (Transportation) from Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo and an M.S. in Transportation Planning, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK.
Tom Jacobson: Executive Director, Rural Dynamics, Inc.
Tom has led this 43-year-old non-profit agency into expanding its financial counseling programs to assist consumers as they move along an economic continuum from dependence to independence. Tom earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Great Falls and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Wyoming. Tom is also an adjunct faculty member in the graduate studies program at the University of Great Falls.
Victor Bjornberg: MT Office of Tourism
Victor Bjornberg serves as the Tourism Development and Education Coordinator for the Montana Commerce Department’s Office of Tourism. His program assists communities, businesses, organizations and individuals in accessing and utilizing the Low & No Cost Marketing Services offered by the Montana Office of Tourism as well as technical and financial resources available for tourism-related development. He manages a tourism facility improvement grant program, cultural tourism development efforts including geotourism products, tourism education efforts, statewide strategic planning and a customer service training program.
Maclaren Latta: MercuryCSC
Maclaren is the Director of Account Services for MercuryCSC, an agency of record for the Montana Office of Tourism. MercuryCSC recently won a prestigious Silver Effie for its effective marketing campaign promoting the state as a tourism destination. Prior to joining MercuryCSC in 2008, Maclaren was part of the leadership team at Carmichael Lynch Spong. Before beginning her marketing career, Maclaren spent four years as a U.S. Senate staff member in Washington, D.C. and graduated from the University of Colorado with a B.A. in Economics.
Pam Gosink: Montana Office of Tourism
Pam is the Marketing Manager for the Montana Office of Tourism and has worked in the tourism industry since 1985. She is responsible for supervising the Marketing Program and its seven Program Managers (Consumer Advertising, Public Information Officer, Photography/Publicity, Publications, Travel Trade Marketing, Visitor Information Systems Manager and Marketing Coordinator), as well as coordinating and facilitating marketing and branding efforts within the division and with our tourism partners. She served as the Overseas Program Manager from 1992 to July 2009, and maintains responsibility for marketing Montana to Japan and Taiwan. She began working for the Montana Office of Tourism in 1992.
Janelle Booth: MSU Extension & Local Government Center
Janelle joined the Local Government Center as an MSU Extension Community Resource Associate Specialist in September 2011. She holds a Masters of Public Administration from Montana State University and a B.S. degree in Biology from South Dakota State University. Prior to joining the Local Government Center, Janelle served as a registered lobbyist during the 2011 Montana Legislative Session and was a graduate research fellow at the Western Transportation Institute.
Joel Schumacher: MSU Extension
Joel Schumacher is currently an associate specialist with the Department of Agricultural Economics at Montana State University. He holds a master’s degree in applied economics and a bachelor’s degree in business from Montana State University. His research and outreach programs focus on bioenergy production opportunities, agricultural policy and consumer economics. Prior to current appointment Joel worked as a pension analyst helping small business owners design and implement retirement plans.
Rural Panel and Q & A Discussion
Wednesday, May 16 (8:30 – 10 am)
Matthew Jones: State Director, USDA Rural Development MT
USDA Rural Development programs support business, affordable housing, and infrastructure investment throughout rural America. Matthew previously served as Tax Counsel for the United States Senate Committee on Finance where his portfolio included small business, energy, agriculture and transportation tax issues. He represented energy industry clients while practicing law at the firm Brickfield, Burchette, Ritts & Stone PC in Washington, DC. Mr. Jones holds a Juris Doctorate from Georgetown University Law Center and a Bachelor of Arts with honors in Economics from the University of Montana.
Sabrina Matteson: American Farm Bureau, Director of Rural Affairs
Sabrina is responsible for helping county and state Farm Bureaus create and implement community building initiatives and projects. Sabrina and her husband, Gary, operated a greenhouse wholesale cut flower business and raised Simmental cattle for 27 years in NH. She has been a NH Farm Bureau member and leader for over 30 years. She served on the AFBF YF&R National Committee and on the NHFB executive committee for 6 years. She worked for New Hampshire Farm Bureau as editor of the state FB newspaper and coordinator of the Young Farmer program for three years before moving to Washington, DC four years ago.
Jim Smitham: Executive Director, Butte Local Development Corp.
Jim graduated from Montana Tech with a BS in Engineering Science and also received his MA in Business Administration from City University. Previous positions held by Mr. Smitham included Executive Director at Bonner County Economic Development Corp., in Sandpoint, ID, as well as working for the Montana Power Company for over 26 years. Mr. Smitham has a long list of civic activity involvement which includes, the State of Montana Economic Development Advisory Council, the Board of Directors of Big Sky Youth Training Program, the Montana Coal Board, as well as Montana Aerospace Development Association Board of Directors, as well as many others.
Tom Kaiserski: Program Manager, Montana Department of Commerce, Energy Promotion and Development Division (EPDD)
EPDD facilitates the development of energy projects in Montana with a focus on electricity transmission projects that can access Montana energy resource areas and move power to load centers in the West. Previously Tom worked as a Senior Economic Development Specialist with Governor Schweitzer’s Office of Economic Development, the Economic Development Coordinator for the Beartooth RC&D for 7 years as well as a community planner in Montana for over 10 years. Tom has a bachelor’s degree in earth science from Montana State University.
Rural Panel - Workshop Session #3
Wednesday, May 16 (10:15 am – 12 pm)
Executive Director, Pacific Technology Alliance
Tom Gurr has successfully guided PacTech from its inception in 2007 to become a regional leader on technology policy issues. Today, PacTech has over 12,000 grassroots members throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. To help promote policies that encourage investment, innovation and competition, Tom has recruited and engaged a broad range of technology stakeholders, including congressional leaders, trade associations, media, and industry executives. He serves on the Technology Advisory Committee to U.S. Representative Adam Smith (WA-9) and regularly testifies on technology issues before the Washington State Legislature.
Tom has also authored opinions that have appeared in newspapers throughout the Northwest including the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, The News Tribune of Tacoma, The Puget Sound Business Journal, The Great Falls Tribune, and The Oregonian.
Bryant Ralston / GSC Research
Bryant Ralston is the director of sales at the Missoula based company GCS Research. Bryant is a long-time member of the Montana GIS community and a graduate of Kansas State University with two degrees in geography and has an MBA certificate from the University of Montana.
GCS Research bio: GCS Research is an internationally recognized leader in advanced geospatial technology solutions. GCS stands for “Geographic Communication Systems” and the firm specializes in creating high-end GIS applications that combine leading edge technology and high-performance analytical ability with a streamlined, intuitive user experience. The company focus is on the communication needed to deliver intelligent human interfaces for geospatial analysis, while simplifying access and control for increasingly distributed geographic information.
Alyssa Townsend-Hudders: Montana Department of Commerce
Alyssa is a Program Specialist with the Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund Program, a program that ensures economic development in Montana through financial support for business job creation and project planning activities. She has previous experience in workforce development and grants management at the Montana Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education, and through Capita Business Services, London, UK.
Nick Rich: Montana Department of Commerce
Nick has been with the Montana Department of Commerce for over 18 years working in both Community and Business Development fields. He is currently a Business Development Specialist for the CDBG-ED Program. He also recently retired as a Lieutenant Colonel from the US Army after 23 years of active duty. His last assignments were with the US Army Corps of Engineers in both Washington DC and Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Mike and Gloria O’Rourke: Business Expansion and Retention
Business Expansion and Retention (BEAR) is a statewide effort to strengthen local companies and enhance a community’s business climate. Mike and Gloria O’Rourke have served as the Montana BEAR Program coordinators since its inception in 2006. BEAR is a partnership of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, Montana Dept. of Commerce, Montana Department of Labor and Montana Economic Developers Association (MEDA). Gloria became a member of MEDA in 1995. In 2003, Mike and Gloria formed Montana Economic Development Services (MEDS, PLLC) and became coordinators for MEDA as well as Montana Ambassadors.
Dave Morey: 21st Century Workforce Technology, Apprenticeship and Training Bureau Workforce Services Division, Department of Labor and Industry
Dave has served in his current position in the Department of Labor and Industry for three years. Previously Dave has served as the Director of Lewis and Clark Office of Public Assistance, the Director of Project Challenge: Work Again, and a Chairman of Capital Workforce System CMT. Dave received his B.S. from the University of Idaho and his teaching certificate from the University of Montana.
Michael Jackson: Kalispell Job Service
Michael has 12 years of retail experience from managing the Highlands Golf course in Missoula, Montgomery Wards management program, to 7 years Kalispell independent retailer in shoe business. He has logged 31 years in banking (25 of those with First Interstate Kalispell, 10 as Years Marketing Director and 21 years in Commercial Lending/Branch Management). He has spent the last two years as the "BEAR Guy" at Kalispell Job Service, conducting more BEAR visits than anyone else in the state.