As with any election, it’s important to do your research. You can learn more about our board candidates and why they want to serve on the FMT board below! Scroll down, or simply click their names to skip down to review their info & responses before casting your vote.

Ready to cast your votes for our next kick-ass board members? Head to the bottom of this page, or just click here!


Garrett Thomas Lankford | he/him/his

Location: Great Falls, MT / Durham, NC

Occupation/Current Employer: Graduate student, Duke University

What is your experience with Forward Montana (or our partner organization, Forward Montana Foundation) and why is our work important to you?

I have been involved with Forward Montana since 2013. I started as an intern in the then-new Bozeman office with the wonderful Kiah Abbey. After my internship ended, I continued to work with FMT to establish on-campus polling locations to make it easier for Montana State students to vote. In my professional capacity, I worked closely with the organization on many issues like Indigenous sovereignty, voting rights, public lands access, and making sure college remains affordable for people in the state. I have been a board member for two years and have enjoyed every second of getting to know my fellow board members and our staff. I love everything this organization does, and I can’t wait to continue helping.

Why are you interested in joining the Forward Montana Board?

I am just finishing my first two-year term on the board, and I can’t wait to continue serving young people across Montana as a part of this organization. Our staff has started some incredible efforts these past two years, and I want to continue to help them make our state a vibrant place for young Montanans to live. Our racial equity, voting rights, and elections protection work all matter, and I want to continue helping in any way that I can.

What skills, characteristics, experience, or insight do you have that would be a valuable addition to the board?

I have vast experience with Montana politics and can continue to help the political committee to advance ideas that benefit young people in Montana. I have a quick wit and will bring a joke to all of our meetings. I can also do anything and everything in my power to make sure Montana is a place where young people have the opportunity to have their voices heard.

What experience do you have with fundraising and what is your comfort level in asking for money?

I have fundraised money in both personal and professional capacities. It isn’t my favorite, but I can do it when needed.

Good board members invest their time into Forward Montana, are ambassadors for the organization, are familiar with the work of the organization, and are responsive to other board members and staff. How will you be a great board member?

I will be a great board member by continuing to show up. The first rule of politics and organizing in Montana is continuing to show up to put in the work that it takes to make sure Montana is a place that values the voices of young people.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Garrett (he/him/his) is an enrolled member of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians and a descendent of the Gros Ventre Nation. A graduate of MSU-Bozeman, Garrett received a degree in Political Science with a focus on policy analysis. After college, he lead the Montana Human Rights Network’s policy efforts during the 2017 and 2019 Legislative sessions. Garrett’s focus included immigration reform, LGBTQ+ equality, and helping negotiate the renewal of Montana’s Medicaid expansion. Conversation starters for Garrett include political history books, college basketball, French Bulldogs, racial justice, Real Housewives, and the Oxford Comma. Garrett is currently a candidate for a Master’s Degree in Public Policy at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy.

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Kasandra Reddington | No third person pronouns, just “Kas”

Location: Helena, MT

Occupation/Current Employer: Tutor, Helena College

What is your experience with Forward Montana (or our partner organization, Forward Montana Foundation) and why is our work important to you?

I have worked in tandem with FMT many times through activism work, and even was awarded the 25 Under 25 and Rockstar Hall of Fame awards.

Why are you interested in joining the Forward Montana Board?

I would love to bring my unique experience to the FMT Board and help shape a Montana we can all be proud of.

What skills, characteristics, experience, or insight do you have that would be a valuable addition to the board?

I am a biracial, bisexual, trans woman who has lived rurally and low-income. On top of all my experience on boards, running orgs, and voluntering with Montana Non-Profits, I think I would be an excellent addition to the board.

What experience do you have with fundraising and what is your comfort level in asking for money?

I have many years experience with fundraising for numerous orgs, and I am more than comfortable asking for donations.

Good board members invest their time into Forward Montana, are ambassadors for the organization, are familiar with the work of the organization, and are responsive to other board members and staff. How will you be a great board member?

Aside from my personal and lived experience, I am flexible, passionate, well-organized, self-starter who has never missed a deadline. I am familiar with the work that many of the non-profit orgs do in Montana (and often work with them), but I am always looking for more ways to get involved and give back. I also am a very engaged member of the LGBTQIA2S+ community, and feel very in-touch with all the treands in changes of it (as well as many other communities).

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I would love the chance to give back to such a spectacular org, and I always relish the opportunity to do more.

Kasandra Reddington, who does not use pronouns, is a current resident of Helena, having moved from the Billings area. Kasandra has always been a passionate advocate and activist for human equity, starting with the Scouts BSA (having achieved the rank of Eagle Scout) and Lions Club International, and moving into work with organizations like Trans Visible Montana, MHRN, and the ACLU. Kasandra is an MSU Billings alumni, and while there also worked to help change institutional policy and attitudes towards gender diverse people by joining student senate, running the school newspaper, and being an active member of multiple student orgs. Kasandra also helped start an afterschool program for LGBT+ kids in Billings. Currently working in the Montana university system, Kasandra is a tutor, instructor, lecturer, and more. Outside of work and activism, Kasandra is an enthusiast for all things geek with a keen interest in Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Mass Effect universes, balanced out by an obsession for neuroscience and medicine.

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Meshayla Cox | she/her

Location: Bozeman, MT

Occupation/Current Employer: The Montana Racial Equity Project

What is your experience with Forward Montana (or our partner organization, Forward Montana Foundation) and why is our work important to you?

I have partnered with Forward Montana through my position with the Montana Racial Equity Project and have heavily relied on the voter guides you put out every year. I greatly appreciate the equitable and intersectional lens through which the organizations work is done throughout the state of Montana. I have witnessed ForwardMT’s commitment to racial equity and anti-racism and am so grateful for all the hard work that is done to protect the rights of Montana’s most marginalized communities. ForwardMT’s values greatly align with the ones I hold for myself personally and showup (and out) for equity and justice!

Why are you interested in joining the Forward Montana Board?

Forward Montana makes politics and institutional change feel accessible and possible to me. This is not an area I normally feel included in, especially in Montana, and ForwardMT staff and volunteers have changed that for me. I’ve been greatly impacted by the work the organization does to eradicate harmful policies and secure rights for ALL Montanans, your work has pushed me to engage more meaningfully in systemic change. I feel strongly connected to the organization’s mission and the way you live out your values. I hope to continue my advocacy and support for the organization through this new role. ☺️

What skills, characteristics, experience, or insight do you have that would be a valuable addition to the board?

● Commitment to progressing equitable and anti-oppressive systems

● Experience planning, leading, and hosting workshops, and meetings

● Cross cultural humility and the ability to work effectively in collaboration with diverse groups of people of all ages and ability levels

● Creativity and enthusiasm about trying new and inventive methods and techniques

● Foundational knowledge of racial justice and equity and broader social justice issues

● Ability to speak clearly and well to my lived experience around racial inequity, oppression, and racism

● Collaborative, work best in a team setting

● Great written and verbal communication skills

What experience do you have with fundraising and what is your comfort level in asking for money?

I have limited experience fundraising. During my two years with the Montana Racial Equity Project I have co-lead and managed 4 different fundraising campaigns which brought in over $170,000! 💃🏾🙌🏾 I am comfortable asking for money and more than happy to host fundraisers on my personal social media pages to raise money.

Good board members invest their time into Forward Montana, are ambassadors for the organization, are familiar with the work of the organization, and are responsive to other board members and staff. How will you be a great board member?

I will be a great board member by supporting my fellow board members through all the responsibilities and duties we hold as a team. I will prioritize our meetings and support ForwardMT through helping plan and attend events that forward your mission and vision. I hope my different perspectives and lived experiences can offer new insights to the other board members and help progress the equity work you all are doing across the state.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Thank you for considering my application and I look forward to the next steps 🤩

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Sean Foot | he/him/his

Location: Bozeman, MT

Occupation/Current Employer: Project Manager, LexisNexis

What is your experience with Forward Montana (or our partner organization, Forward Montana Foundation) and why is our work important to you?

Over the past few elections I have found great value in using the Forward Montana voter guide. Additionally, I have been a regular reader of What the Helena over the past year and found it helpful in keeping up to date with Montana’s legislative sessions.

Forward Montana’s work is important to me because I believe inspiring the younger generation to be engaged and to actively participate in the legislative process is vital for the future of our communities. I am also appreciative of Forward Montana’s straightforward voting guides because they help me feel confident I am making informed voting decisions.

Why are you interested in joining the Forward Montana Board?

Over the past few years, I’ve experienced a rude awakening–our country isn’t in the spot I thought it was. I was excited to see the opportunity to join the board because I see it as a chance to push myself to be more informed and become an active participant in the process of deciding our future. Forward Montana’s commitment to helping educate, inform, and shape our generation makes me believe we can achieve a future we can all be proud of. I want to invest my skills, time, and energy into an organization that aligns with my values. From my perspective, the work Forward Montana is doing is foundational for making positive, lasting change in our communities.

What skills, characteristics, experience, or insight do you have that would be a valuable addition to the board?

I am an energetic, thoughtful, and approachable person who is comfortable speaking with a variety of people. Building connections and relationships is an important part of what I do in my professional work and I would bring this experience to my time with Forward Montana. In addition, I believe the collaborative, strategic, and analytical skills I use daily in my role as a project manager will be a great addition to any team.

In the past, I have also held a variety of leadership positions including being the President of my Key Club and Student Body in high school and treasurer of my college Circle K Club.

What experience do you have with fundraising and what is your comfort level in asking for money?

I am comfortable with fundraising and do not mind soliciting gifts. I have experience seeking donations for the clubs/organizations I have been involved with . I also used to run my own small businesses where I had to provide bids and follow up with my clients for payments.

Good board members invest their time into Forward Montana, are ambassadors for the organization, are familiar with the work of the organization, and are responsive to other board members and staff. How will you be a great board member?

I plan to be a great board member by making Forward Montana my top philanthropic priority. I will engage in meetings, partake in activities, and ensure to be timely and efficient in my duties and responsibilities. I’m excited for the opportunity to collaborate with people who hold similar values and visions, but also with those who hold different views and perspectives from my own. I am a firm believer that it is important to hear others’ perspectives and will encourage all to share their ideas. In addition, I plan to stay informed and current on the issues and projects Forward Montana is championing so that I may be the most effective board member possible.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I look forward to hearing from you! Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any additional questions.

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Matt Kelly | he/his

Location: Bozeman, MT

Occupation/Current Employer: Attorney, Tarlow Stonecipher Weamer & Kelly PLLC

What is your experience with Forward Montana (or our partner organization, Forward Montana Foundation) and why is our work important to you?

I have served two terms as a board member and one term as Treasurer. This has been challenging and fulfilling work. The organization is dynamic and growing. Its goals line up with my priorities and the organization challenges me to confront some of my ingrained beliefs.

Prior to joining the board, I became interested in Forward Montana after meeting with some current Forward Montana leadership. Their obvious talent and enthusiasm was infectious and I was driven to learn more. Soon after, I co-hosted the annual report tour and got an excellent education on the mission and activities of Forward Montana. Since becoming involved I have been able to assist in the transition to our current ED – Kiersten Iwai, and to assist in a few challenging election cycles.

Why are you interested in joining the Forward Montana Board?

My enthusiasm for Forward Montana continues and drives me to want to invest my time and resources in furthering its mission. I can and will be an asset to the Board and have a breadth of experiences that will be valuable to the organization. I am excited to help Forward Montana continue to become the best organization it can be.

What skills, characteristics, experience, or insight do you have that would be a valuable addition to the board?

I currently am a partner in a small 8-lawyer law firm that has a general Montana practice. We focus on employment law, construction litigation, and natural resources law in Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming. This experience is important because I am constantly challenged to learn new skills, evaluate and act on opportunities, and react to a rapidly changing legal environment.

What experience do you have with fundraising and what is your comfort level in asking for money?

I have extensive experience in organizing, managing, and operating a variety of different organizations. The first major experience I had in this realm was co-founding the Wyoming Conservation Corps. The WCC is similar in its mission to the more well-known Montana Conservation Corps but is structured very differently. My work in founding the WCC required 2 years of lobbying, travel, and relationship building across the entire state of Wyoming. Ultimately the WCC was founded from $500,000 in initial funding from the Wyoming legislature, with additional annual funding for three more years. From that point, we were able make the WCC self-sufficient (requiring no additional direct annual funding or donation) using a fee for service model and some grants from AmeriCorps. The WCC is doing work across Wyoming right now.

My proudest accomplishment relating the WCC is that it is successful on its own – meaning that I have no continuing role with the organization other than proud founder. The process of creating the WCC was all consuming and gave me a crash course in relationship building with both private industry and government entities. I learned to successfully lobby the legislative and executive branches of state government. Finally, I learned the crucial skill of knowing when to let an organization become its own entity, fulfilling its initial mission and growing into something bigger based on the needs of the community.

Good board members invest their time into Forward Montana, are ambassadors for the organization, are familiar with the work of the organization, and are responsive to other board members and staff. How will you be a great board member?

I will continue to do what I have been doing – which is seek out ways to help out within my skill set, uplift others when it is obvious they are a better fit than me for other roles, and challenge myself continually to always be additive to the organization.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Just that I love this organization and am excited to continue to serve.

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Benjamin Sherman | he/him/his

Location: Billings, MT

Occupation/Current Employer: Online Sales, COO of JT Media Inc

What is your experience with Forward Montana (or our partner organization, Forward Montana Foundation) and why is our work important to you?

I have been a Forward Montana member since May 2021. I believe that our youth is our future and that our state will not progress unless we can be proactive so that all Montanans have access to vote. Forward Montana has an opportunity to help better our state’s representation for our minority communities. I am an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota tribe (Pine Ridge, SD) and have been raised in a family that has worked to help empower natives as well as all people that are at a disadvantage. I aspire to be part of Forward Montana, so that Montanans have the representation that they deserve.

Why are you interested in joining the Forward Montana Board?

We are at a moment in time where Native voices have an opportunity to make a lasting impact on our country for generations to come. Our Montana BIPOC community needs more representation in our state. It is vital to me that our state makes access to voting a priority to everyone. I am also at a point in my life where I feel that I am in a situation where I need to make my voice heard as well. With great privilege comes great responsibility. I am hoping Forward Montana will allow me this opportunity.

What skills, characteristics, experience, or insight do you have that would be a valuable addition to the board?

It is critical that if we are in a position to do something, that we take that opportunity to do so. We need more people in our state that represent our Bipoc and communities. I believe that I can help provide Native Insight to help further the Forward Montana Mission. I am a problem solver and like to challenge myself. I have been able to help grow a multi million business in online sales in the past 9 years as the Chief operating Officer of JT Media Inc. I like to find inefficiencies and find ways to work smarter.

I also believe that my family connections and network throughout native communities can help spread voting awareness and rights for Montanans. My father helped to start the Lakota Fund, the First Microfinance fund in the USA, in Pine Ridge South Dakota and I have been in a household that has done work for Native communities since I was born. My stepmother’s business, Bar K Management, is in the business of consulting with native organizations. In the last year, I have been helping to develop the Bar K vision so that we can help decolonize businesses and to help provide reparations for native communities. My Brother, Sean Sherman, has also started a successful business. “The Sioux Chef” and is well connected throughout the native community as well.

What experience do you have with fundraising and what is your comfort level in asking for money?

I have little experience fundraising, but my family fundraises for a living and they have helped connect me with many resources. They would be an invaluable resource for me to reach out to. It would be a learning experience for me, but I am comfortable talking to others about asking for money for causes that I believe in.

Good board members invest their time into Forward Montana, are ambassadors for the organization, are familiar with the work of the organization, and are responsive to other board members and staff. How will you be a great board member?

I am always happy to listen to others and evolve. My business revolves around customer service and I realize the needs of others as well as the speed in which they need responses. I am able to keep others accountable and will make my voice heard in situations where I believe that core values are being compromised. I have built my career around being a problem solver and hope that my input will be able to help forward the mission. I can take constructive criticism and always strive to make myself better through conversations.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

We have a lot of work as a society and as Montanans. We can always strive to do better. Coming from a pessimist, this means a lot! I appreciate the opportunity to apply and have a chance to help better our future.

My birth name is Ben Sherman and my Lakota name is Zuya Ohitika Wicasa, which translates to Journeys with Courage Man. I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel to 45 countries. I first started traveling as a Junior in College, when I attended the study abroad Program, “Semester at Sea,” with the University of Virginia. This adventure took me to 13 countries in 4 months, circumnavigating the globe. This experience opened my eyes immensely and shifted my world views dramatically. I have always been curious about other cultures, but one thing that I did not envision is that my travels would open me to understanding my own culture just as much.

I graduated from Rocky Mountain College in 2012 with a degree in Geology and an Art Minor. Upon graduation, I started a video business, Britney Paige Cinematographers, and spent a few years filming weddings and commercials. I worked part time for a small online textbook business called JT Media during the start of school semesters. Over time, my role in this business increased, and I ended up with an ownership stake in the business. We are currently a small team of 3, and sell on Multiple online Marketplaces such as Amazon.com, AbeBooks.com, Booksrun.com, and a few others. In the last 5 years, as the Chief Operating Officer, I have helped the company sell over 169,000 Textbooks and over 14 million dollars in sales. I also lead the customer service and have managed to keep our company at the top of the Amazon feedback ranks.

While my business has been a blessing, it is not always the most fulfilling job. It has given me a lot of freedom over the years, and at this point in my life, I am really focusing on my native culture as well as our democracy. I believe that this is a pivotal time in my life, as well as our countries, and I feel that it is important that I do all that I can to help create an impact. I believe that I have many qualities and networks that I can bring to the table.

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Melodie Snyder | she/her/hers

Location: Billings, MT

Occupation/Current Employer: Technical Assistant, Northern Plains Resource Council

What is your experience with Forward Montana (or our partner organization, Forward Montana Foundation) and why is our work important to you?

I was an intern in the Fall of 2019 with Forward Montana and worked closely with Michael Nelson in Billings, MT. I learned about the different branches of FMT including Forward Montana Foundation. I worked on the city council elections in Billings. I knocked on doors, made phone calls, registered people to vote, handed out voter guides to local organizations and planned the election watch party at Thirsty Street Brewing Company for the city council elections. I am a member of FMT and try to keep updated on any new information that FMT has to offer me.

I have always been passionate about making positive change in the world. Since I was young I have wanted to help people in any way that I can. A really easy thing that all of us can do to make change is to vote. Talking to people about voting and caring about local issues is immensely important to me. Gathering young people to make lasting change is what I am passionate about and I try to do that through my daily life and through my career. The mission and values of FMT alone are what drives me to want to be more involved in the organization. Being involved in an inclusive, progressive, fun, innovative, young person led and power building organization is something I have dreamed of doing.

Why are you interested in joining the Forward Montana Board?

I am passionate about local, state and federal issues. I want a direct voice into the issues and I want to reflect the voices of those around me that feel as though they have no power. My passion is a large part as to why I want to be part of the Forward Montana Board. I also have the time and energy to make changes and be committed to the position as well.

What skills, characteristics, experience, or insight do you have that would be a valuable addition to the board?

I am a recent Rocky Mountain College graduate who has many peers who feel as though their voices are not represented in the current political environment. I want to represent the younger generation and bring a different perspective to the table. I have four years of experience event planning at both Centralia College in Washington State and at Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Montana. The events I planned surrounded topics such as sexual assault, diversity and inclusion, hunger and homelessness prevention, voting and health and wellness. I was an Americorp volunteer and completed 600 hours of service in one year. I volunteered around Billings and was able to travel to Guatemala for a week to help those experiencing poverty and malnutrition. I have an Associates Degree in Mathematics and a Bachelor Degree in Small Business Management with minors in Communication Studies and Organizational Leadership.

I have been in leadership positions since I was in 7th grade. From class president in high school to president of the honors society (Phi Theta Kappa) at Centralia College, I thrive being in a leadership role. I was team lead of Stand Up RMC (at Rocky Mountain College), the hunger and homelessness coordinator at RMC, team lead of RMC orientation for two years, assistant manager at Chalet Market Downtown for a year, and a shift leader at Your Pie for two years. I was nominated for the Undergraduate Social Justice Action Award and the Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award in 2018 at Rocky Mountain College. I received the Outstanding Student of the Year Award at Centralia College in 2017, which means that I was a good student and heavily involved on campus while at Centralia College. I also volunteered at Planned Parenthood for years and attended a conference in Detroit through the organization.

What experience do you have with fundraising and what is your comfort level in asking for money?

I fundraised from 7th grade-12th grade for the class trip. I fundraised for my trip to Guatemala in 2019 where I was able to raise $600 for my part of the payment and helped raise the group fees. I have worked in sales (Francesca’s, Your Pie, Chalet Market, and at a fair). While in high school I also had to fundraise and raise money for my cheerleading uniform. I was involved in a charity pageant after high school where we would raise money for those in need. While working at Your Pie I hosted a few fundraisers for Tumbleweed and the God’s Child Project. I have varied experience and I am not afraid to ask for money, especially when it comes to things I genuinely believe in and are passionate about.

Good board members invest their time into Forward Montana, are ambassadors for the organization, are familiar with the work of the organization, and are responsive to other board members and staff. How will you be a great board member?

I will be dedicated to the position. So that means I will put the position as my number one priority (other than my full time job). If that means it may interfere with my personal life then so be it. I will be a positive influence, efficient, and hard working. I work well with others and always want to hear every side of the conversation.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I am extremely passionate about Forward Montana and the chance to be a member of the board. No matter what experience I have, my passion will push me to do anything I set my mind to.

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Allie Hay | she/hers

Location: Billings, MT

Occupation/Current Employer: Development Officer, Planned Parenthood of MT

What is your experience with Forward Montana (or our partner organization, Forward Montana Foundation) and why is our work important to you?

I was fortunate enough to begin learning from the good folks at Forward Montana as a college student in 2012. At Montana State University, Forward Montana & Forward Montana Foundation offered me a space to learn about civic engagement, voicing my values, and voter registration. Upon graduating, Forward Montana continued to invest in my leadership development by allowing me the privilege of serving on the FMT Board. I’ve been on the board for 4 years, holding the position of Vice Chair for 1 year and Chair for the past 3 years.

As a bi woman, with a love of the outdoors, voter access, and bodily autonomy, I feel so incredibly understood by Forward Montana’s mission and values; their work is important to me because it impacts myself and my community.

Why are you interested in joining the Forward Montana Board?

I am interested in continued service on the Forward Montana Board because I am excited to work toward the mission of Forward Montana while learning from the incredible staff and board members at the organization. I have learned so much in the last 4 years alongside the Forward Montana community. Now, with gained familiarity for the organization and confidence in my own abilities (thanks to all the fabulous board members!), I hope to offer my experience and remain open to expanding the possibilities for FMT!I am passionate about local, state and federal issues. I want a direct voice into the issues and I want to reflect the voices of those around me that feel as though they have no power. My passion is a large part as to why I want to be part of the Forward Montana Board. I also have the time and energy to make changes and be committed to the position as well.

What skills, characteristics, experience, or insight do you have that would be a valuable addition to the board?

I hope my past experience as a board member with FMT, my passion for Montana, and my general love of working with others can lend a hand in Forward Montana’s work. The past 4 years have deepened my understanding for the administrative functions of the organization. I hope I can offer “institutional” knowledge and history to help empower Forward Montana to continue to learn from past wins & lessons. Additionally, I will be excited to share what I’ve learned from serving in leadership roles with the next slate of elected officers.

What experience do you have with fundraising and what is your comfort level in asking for money?

I have 3 years experience fundraising professionally and I did host a number of lemonade stands, with all proceeds donated to a local theatre school in Helena, while growing up. 🙂 I am quite comfortable asking for financial support for causes I care about. Fundraising is all about believing in the work and Forward Montana sure does make it easy to believe in the work!

Good board members invest their time into Forward Montana, are ambassadors for the organization, are familiar with the work of the organization, and are responsive to other board members and staff. How will you be a great board member?

In my time on the Forward Montana Board, I’ve become quite familiar with the work of the organization. I’ve also learned that I have a role in connecting the dots between great folks who care about the organization and the passions & experiences they offer to the work. My history as a board member will show nearly perfect attendance for all board meetings and most committee meetings. And, hey! I’m working on responding to emails within 24-hours 😉

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

It has been such an honor to serve on the FMT Board for the past 4 years! Thank you.

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Nathalie Wagler | she/her/hers

Location: Billings, MT / Bellingham, WA

Occupation/Current Employer: Student, Western Washington University

What is your experience with Forward Montana (or our partner organization, Forward Montana Foundation) and why is our work important to you?

I became involved with Forward Montana in 2017 at the first MT Youth Organizing Summit, and shortly after was hired as the first Billings Voter Registration Organizer! I worked in the Billings office for 8 months helping get the office off the ground by recruiting volunteers and interns, as well as (ofc) registering voters, and was awarded the 25 Under 25 Award at the end of my time as an FMT staffer. After moving away from Billings for college I just couldn’t stay away from FMT and ran for my first term on the FMT Board!

Since my term started in 2019 I’ve never missed a board meeting and have served in committee leadership as well as on the planning task force for the MT Youth Organizing Summit. FMT is important to me for so many reasons, but I credit FMT with being the start of my leadership development and what made me feel empowered to hold leadership positions as a young person. I felt so validated and seen by FMT who supports young, passionate people who want to make changes in their community, and I was able to have leadership development opportunities I never would have had access to without my time as an FMT staffer and Board member.

Why are you interested in joining the Forward Montana Board?

I have learned so much from my last term on the Board, and I would love to take the knowledge I have gained to continue serving FMT. This organization has done so much for me and I hope to continue giving back and be a part of FMT’s continued growth. I believe I have a background that brings a valuable perspective, and since I go to school out of state this is a great way to be involved in Montana while in Washington.

What skills, characteristics, experience, or insight do you have that would be a valuable addition to the board?

With the experience as a former field staff member I am able to bridge the divide between field staff and the board and relate to the different levels of the organization. I am also the youngest and only current undergraduate student on the FMT board, so I hope to represent that portion of the FMT membership who are directly affected by the higher education issue advocacy FMT does. I am a creative, quick thinker and a fast learner, and am very committed to the work I take on. My political experience spans a variety of organizations including university organizing, partisan and nonpartisan politics, and issue advocacy work, each with their own missions and purposes, so I am able to bring in aspects from each one to create a holistic perspective in decision making.

What experience do you have with fundraising and what is your comfort level in asking for money?

I have fundraised for a variety of organizations, partisan and nonpartisan, political and nonpolitical, and have become very comfortable asking for money when it’s for a cause I care about and when I know the money is going to a good place. I have dialed in my elevator pitch and am ready to advocate for FMT whenever I get the chance!

Good board members invest their time into Forward Montana, are ambassadors for the organization, are familiar with the work of the organization, and are responsive to other board members and staff. How will you be a great board member?

I think a great board member consciously applies their personal and professional background in order to make the organization grow or be more effective. I have seen this exemplified in my fellow board members, and hope to continue to use my expertise to benefit FMT. I will find ways to plug myself in and take on responsibilities where I believe my background would come in handy. Active participation creates a stronger board, and I want to continue my service as an active member contributing to building a more effective board and powerful, growing organization. I constantly refer to FMT in all settings (the fire insta game and What The Helena have both made their way into my work meetings on multiple occasions), which is purely because I love this organization and want everyone to know about it. I care deeply about this work and I want to do whatever I can to help other young people find FMT!

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Thank you for the opportunity to run again! <3

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Sapphire Carter | she/her/hers

Location: Rocky Boy, MT

Occupation/Current Employer: GEAR Up Liaison, Rocky Boy High School

What is your experience with Forward Montana (or our partner organization, Forward Montana Foundation) and why is our work important to you?

In 2019, I decided to run for the Forward Montana board to gain more experience in political activism and leadership. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity as a young Indigenous woman to serve on Forward Montana for the past two years. I believe Forward Montana’s vision to increase civic engagement among young Montanans is essential to creating a progressive future for our state. A future that I hope the generations after us will be proud of.

Why are you interested in joining the Forward Montana Board?

After acquiring much institutional knowledge, I am highly interested in continuing service on the Forward Montana board. As a new member back in 2019, I learned more about the needs of an organization from a board member and hope to use this knowledge for a second term. I still have goals of increasing Native youth’s participation in Forward Montana programming and representation on the board and staff.

What skills, characteristics, experience, or insight do you have that would be a valuable addition to the board?

Besides my former experience serving on the board, I have other valuable skills and insights from previous campaign experience as a Research Assistant for 2016 gubernatorial campaign and as a 2020 Native Vote Organizer. I also served in the Peace Corps where I received training in youth development which is a invaluable asset to some Forward Montana Foundation programming involving the Youth Organizing Summit and High School Fellowship.

What experience do you have with fundraising and what is your comfort level in asking for money?

I have numerous volunteer experience making donor calls for campaigns and other boards. As a Peace Corps volunteer, I also wrote some successful grant applications for youth development projects. For Forward Montana board, I helped plan a house party to raise funds, unfortunately the party was cancelled due to the onset of the pandemic.I have fundraised for a variety of organizations, partisan and nonpartisan, political and nonpolitical, and have become very comfortable asking for money when it’s for a cause I care about and when I know the money is going to a good place. I have dialed in my elevator pitch and am ready to advocate for FMT whenever I get the chance!

Good board members invest their time into Forward Montana, are ambassadors for the organization, are familiar with the work of the organization, and are responsive to other board members and staff. How will you be a great board member?

I understand the commitment needed to be a great board member for Forward Montana after serving for two years. My familiarity of organizational committees, policies, and staff and the calendar of events allows me to stay on task for deadlines that occur throughout the year.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I am a proud member of the Chippewa Cree tribe and grew up on the Rocky Boy’s Reservation. In 2016, I graduated from Carroll College with a BA in International Relations. This year, I am blessed to be bringing in new life to this world with the birth of my first baby. I hope that we can make Montana a better place for our future generations.

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Cast your votes!

We are looking to fill 6 seats on our board and have 10 phenomenal candidates. Each Forward Montana member has 6 votes to cast between June 23 – July 16th.  

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