Our Staff

Heidi Wallace: Executive Director

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.

Jesse Jaeger: Director of Operations

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 Michelson: Youth Programs Coordinator

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 received her Bachelor’s Degrees at University of Montana in Psychology as well as Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Claire coordinates all the Missoula-based youth work and continues to help other young people (and people of all ages) find their ally skills, passions, and voices.

Jamar Galbreath: Youth Development Coordinator

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.  

Kelsie Severson: Grant Writer and Development Assistant

Born and raised in Missoula Montana, Kelsie Severson has always been passionate about serving the Missoula community and Social Justice Work. The daughter of a Union Leader and a long time feminist Kelsie has been doing activist work in Montana her entire life. Kelsie started as a Development and Communications Intern with EmpowerMT in 2014 and has been volunteering in a number of capacities since that time. In the Spring of 2017, Kelsie stepped into the role as Grant Writer at EmpowerMT. Kelsie graduated from the University of Montana in 2015 with a BA in Communication Studies and a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies. After 2 years serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA member coordinating a tutoring program at Big Sky High School, Kelsie is returning to the University of Montana to work on her MA in Communication Studies.

Mija: Administrative Assistant

Mija is a proud two-spirit & Montanan. They volunteered as a trainer with EmpowerMT for 7 years before joining the office crew in June 2018. Mija has worked with youth for 10+ years, devoting time to  Montana Youth Queer Action Coalition & Camp Ten Trees.  Two-spirit is a sex educator & values peoples rights to their own bodies. They are a passionate person & enjoy creating inclusive space. Mija believes in equity & seeks balance, their core values are integrity, joy & stewardship.

Kayla Szatkiewicz : Americorps Youth Programs Specialist

Kayla is so excited to be continuing her work with EMpowerMT! She splits her time between our offices and Big Sky High school! Coming from a family of strong feminist women, Kayla got her social justice roots young! She has been loud and proud in standing up for what is right for many years! She is an Alum of the University of Montana’s Social Work program. Her love and energy around all things is an amazing asset to our team.

Spencer Czech: Youth Programs Specialist

After growing up in Cut Bank, Montana, a small town on the edge of the Blackfeet reservation, Spencer moved to Missoula in search of a more inclusive and accepting community. The injustices that transpired in his hometown inspired Spencer to pursue a degree in Social Work with hopes of creating a more just society and advocating for those whose voices need to be amplified. Spencer is currently a Junior at the University of Montana and a Youth Programs Specialist at EmpowerMT.  In his down time, Spencer enjoys listening to music, surrounding himself with his family and friends, and the occasional tennis match.

Our Practicums

Loni Neilson-Kattell – MSW, practicum, AmeriCorps Member

Born and raised in Missoula, MT Loni holds Montana values close to her heart and is happy to be a part of the EmpowerMT family. She joined EmpowerMT ten years ago as a youth attending their annual summer camp. Loni recognized the importance of EmpowerMT’s mission and was so excited to pursue this work during her graduate studies. Loni is a graduate student at Walla Walla University: The Wilma Hepker School of Social Work and Sociology pursuing her Masters in Social Work. In addition to social work, Loni is a local Stage Manager in Missoula. After earning her BA in Technical Theatre from the University of Montana in 2014, Loni has remained an active member in the theatre community. The theatre is essential to her work because it allows her to facilitate the audience’s participation in the artistic community and other’s capacity for self-expression and healing through the creation of art and communities.