Heidi’s life experiences as a sixth generation, non-Indigenous Montanan led her to pursue a life of creating positive change in individuals and communities. Heidi has a Bachelor’s of Social Work and a B.A. in Native American Studies from the University of Montana where she was honored in 2010 with the Distinguished Alumni Award. For the past 18 years, Wallace’s focus has been on advancing youth leadership and creating just institutions by assisting organizations and communities to dismantle oppressive practices. Through her work with EmpowerMT, Wallace has influenced policy change and trained thousands of individuals to build safer and more inclusive schools, organizations and communities.
Katie has been deeply passionate about correcting injustices and building power for marginalized groups ever since she first noticed the inequality and disparities in her own community. Since joining EmpowerMT’s staff in 2012, Katie has helped increase the organization’s capacity in numerous ways through her administrative, training, and event coordination expertise. Her commitment to amplifying the visibility and voices of people of color and their intersecting identities, has played a key role in expanding EmpowerMT’s racial justice work. Katie firmly believes that empowering individuals to see, listen, speak and act is one of the most important ways to create positive change in the world.
Jesse and his family moved back to Missoula the summer of 2014 after being gone for 14 years and shortly thereafter he joined EmpowerMT’s staff. He was worked in nonprofit organizations for over 20 years including six years as the National Director for Youth Ministry for the Unitarian Universalist Association and most recently as the Executive Director of UU Mass Action, a small advocacy organization that mobilized people of faith around progressive causes in Massachusetts. Jesse is honored to be part of an organization that has such a large impact in empowering all people, and especially young people, to transform their communities into more just and inclusive places.
Claire was raised by parents who taught her the importance of giving kindness and respect to all people, regardless of any single identity or characteristic. It was growing up through the Missoula schools where she saw the need for more inclusive and empowering environments. Claire was saddened by how many of her peers (including herself) faced oppression and mistreatment, and experienced mental health issues as a result of this. She became an EmpowerMT enthusiast when she joined Respect Club (now EPIC!) back in the sixth grade and found a place that valued her wise, loving attitude and helped her gain confidence and a voice in her community. Claire currently attends University of Montana as a Presidential Leadership Scholar and studies Psychology as well as Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Claire facilitates the after school program EPIC and continues to help other young people (and people of all ages) find their ally skills, passions, and voices.
Alston was born and raised in the South, but moved West a few years ago because who doesn’t love mountains, snow, and the beautiful people of Montana? After being exposed to many inequalities in the South, it sparked a passion in her to work with marginalized groups. Alston especially loves working with youth, and to empower young folks to use their voice and build leadership within their community. She recently graduated from University of Montana’s Social Work program, and is now a Youth Programs Specialist at Empower Montana. Alston facilitates Youth Forward, and the after school program EPIC. She enjoys playing music, writing, and cooking southern food with extra butter.
In 2011 just after receiving his M.Ed from the Penn State, Jamar packed his life into the back of his small two- door Honda Civic and drove across the country to accept a position at the University of Montana as the University Center’s Diversity Programs Coordinator. Five years later, he joined EmpowerMT as the Youth Development Coordinator. He is an avid reader, a sports enthusiast and self-proclaimed “giant nerd” and finds great value in the many, intersecting identities that make up the individual. He believes that by embracing the many aspects that make us who we are, we are better able to relate to others.
Kayla is in her final year of the social work program at the University of Montana and is doing her practicum with Empower Montana for the following school year. Her amazing Midwestern accent is evidence that she is not from the area. Kayla’s passion for social justice issues stemmed from a very young age, because of her passionate mother and older sister. Her loving roommates make the shockingly accurate comparison to a dog, for her high energy, love for life and other dogs! Kayla is beyond excited to get the chance to work with Empower Montana and cannot wait for everything to come this year.