Staff

Our Staff

Heidi Wallace: Executive Director

Pronouns: she/her/hers

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.

Brooke Corr: Director of Synergistic Operations

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Brooke has over 40 years of business creation, development, management, hiring, training, and team building experience.  She has been a one on one coach, facilitator, and skill building educator for over 29 years.   Brooke is a ‘Montana Certified Mediator’, holds a special ‘Family Certified’ designation, and is a proud Board Member of The Montana Mediation Association. Brooke was a facilitator and trainer for the National Coalition Building Institute from 1999 until 2010, and co-directed the NCBI University of Montana Campus Chapter for two years. She earned her BSW, with honors, from the University of Montana, with an emphasis in communication, multicultural counseling, neuropsychology and forgiveness and reconciliation.  She is SUPER excited to be working with EmpowerMT!

Kelsie Severson: Associate Director of Growth and Development

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Born and raised in Missoula Montana, Kelsie 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 and working in a number of capacities for EmpowerMT since that time. 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 serving 2 years as an AmeriCorps VISTA member coordinating a tutoring program at Big Sky High School, Kelsie completed an MA in Communication Studies in the Spring of 2019. In her spare time, Kelsie enjoys hiking, cycling, reading, getting involved in Montana politics, and being a full-time cat mom.

Alex Kim: Racial Justice Engagement Specialist

Pronouns: he/him/his

Alex is the joint Racial Justice Engagement Specialist for EmpowerMT and the YWCA of Missoula, working to build anti-racism initiatives for both organizations and within the community to ensure that racial justice is a primary lens that informs all of our work. Alex has a degree in Communications and Photo Journalism from the University of Montana. He has worked for the UM college radio station, doing community outreach, and for Backcountry Hunters and Anglers leading diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. He also designs and facilitates BIPOC outdoor clinics for Missoula Parks & Recreation. Alex enjoys art and photography, getting outside, and good food. His commitment to racial justice work is rooted in celebrating our differences, elevating BIPOC voices, educating the community, and building compassion and empathy for one another.

Loni Neilson-Kattell: Youth Development Coordinator

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Born and raised in Missoula, MT Loni joined EmpowerMT as a youth attending the annual Empowering Youth Leadership Institute. Loni recognized the importance of EmpowerMT’s mission and was excited to participate in workshops and trainings through high-school, undergrad, and her graduate studies at Walla Walla University. Loni earned her BA in Technical Theatre from the University of Montana in 2014. Although her passion has shifted to a social justice lens, the theatre is still essential to her work. Stage managing allows her to facilitate audience participation in the artistic community by fostering a space to witness others’ capacity for self-expression and healing through the creation of art and communities. EmpowerMT was the inspiration for Loni to pursue her Masters in Social Work. She is happy to be a part of the EmpowerMT family as a staff member and looks forward to learning and growing even more with the Missoula community.

Samantha Veneski: AmeriCorps VISTA

Pronouns: she/her/hers

My name’s Samantha Veneski, and I just received my Bachelor’s Degree in International Political Science and Sociology, as well as a minor in American Sign Language and French at Flagler College in Saint Augustine FL. Born in the Bronx and raised in the Hudson Valley, I’ve experienced an array of different cultures but none as community oriented as Missoula. Growing up as a first generation  college student, college and the world of academia was not an easy transition. Throughout high school and college I’ve devoted myself to my passion to help people and connect with people in an honest way that sometimes can be lost in translation. Whether it be music workshops in children homes, volunteering with big brother big sister, helping others who were born bilingual and are also struggling with english, or simply volunteering with elder care. I’ve been accepted to serve with the Peace Corps next year, and after that I hope to continue with law school with the goal of fighting for social justice and I strive to help give a voice and a fighting chance for those who don’t have it. I’m so excited to work and learn from all the wonderful things EmpowerMT does in the next year as an Americorps VISTA. 

Sierra Pannell: Youth Programs Specialist

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Sierra has lived in Missoula for thirteen years and got involved with EmpowerMT when she was receiving her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and Minor in African-American Studies. Serving as both a practicum student and racial justice intern for the 2018/2019 academic year, Sierra was able to use her passion for social and racial justice to connect further with the Missoula community.  While she moved to Portland,OR after graduation, she has now moved back to Missoula and is excited to work with EmpowerMT again! 

Harper Kushner: Youth Programs Specialist

Pronouns: he/him/his

Harper Kushner is pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Communication Studies, as well as a minor in American History at the University of Montana. Born in Germany and raised in Montana and Australia, Harper is passionate about the pursuit of social justice and equality to support minorities and at-risk populations. He has been part of EmpowerMT since 2010 when he helped establish Youth Forward to support queer youth in Missoula and its surrounding areas. He enjoys learning, walking his dog, and spending time with his partner and cats.

Our Practicums

We are looking for talented and passionate students to join our team! If you are interested please let us know!