It’s that time of the year again! We have six spots with ten awesome candidates to choose from. If you are a member of Forward Montana (aka you have donated $10 or more or volunteered for two hours or more in the past year) you are able to cast six votes! Each vote must be for a different candidate.
Make sure to cast your votes by noon on July 17th!

Check out more information below about each candidate and when you are ready to vote, head to the link below!

(*) indicates incumbent board member

List of candidates

(option to scroll to each candidate or click the links to jump to their bios)

Meshayla Cox | Bailey Desper | Jordyn Geruso | Katie Harrison |
Nik James | Alyssa LaTray | Kaya Patten-Fusselman | William Schenck| Faith Scow | Sarah Tidd

To view each Q&A below the candidates, click the gray area of the question.


Meshayla Cox*

Montana | CoEquity Consulting,
DEIJ Consultant

What excites you about Forward Montana & Forward Montana Foundation?

Love to see the ways FMT is dedicated to progressing policies and protecting rights for all people to vote by centering marginalized communities

Why are you interested in joining the Forward Montana Board?

I have learned so much as a board member, there are great folks who are super committed to the success of the organization and I appreciate finding ways to support all the good work happening. I especially orient towards uplifting employee support and there have been wonderful & progressive advancements to ensuring involvement from staff in different processes and decision making.

Please describe your board experience (whether being a board member or working closely with a board).

It’s been super eye opening, a big learning experience. I appreciate the patience and dedication from everyone involved.

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

I am always thinking about what it means to integrate equity into decision making and process development. I think it’s an important part of how forward Montana orients to their work in all ways. I have skills in inclusive policy development & language, project management, and staff engagement and training.

Bailey Desper

Billings, MT | Montana Democratic Party (MDLCC)

What excites you about Forward Montana & Forward Montana Foundation?

Forward Montana is greatly invested in the community’s it serves around Montana and actually advocates on more than just one issue including supporting our local and state candidates.

Why are you interested in joining the Forward Montana Board?

What interest me about becoming a board member is that I would like to see more advancement in Yellowstone County around LGBTQ. I would like to help build a program that mirrors something similar from the lgbtq Los Angeles Institute and the Deep Canvass Institute around having deep canvassing conversations with voters to help shift perspectives on LGBTQA issues and pass a NDO for Billings or state legislation and advocate for change for generations to come.

Please describe your board experience (whether being a board member or working closely with a board).

My experience with nonprofits are that they are not out to make a profit. What they bring in always goes right back into the community and to their employees wages not much profit to be expected.

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

I have a good ground game and failure is not an option for me and If I don’t succeed I don’t give up and I always try again. I love planning events and doing what I can to help bring the community together.


Jordyn Geruso

Bozeman, mt | Engagement Manager – Veterans for Responsible Leadership

What excites you about Forward Montana & Forward Montana Foundation?

Our up and coming generations are exciting. We are speaking out and advocating in a way that hasn’t been seen before. Forward Montana providing an empowering space in a sometimes intimidating space is really exciting. Heck I still get intimidated but it is so important to have a community that has the same values and mission. It’s great seeing this type of movement in Montana.

Why are you interested in joining the Forward Montana Board?

I’m interested in being involved in the community. Although not a native, Bozeman has become my home over the past 2.5 years. I love what it is but see so many gaps. I think our community is strong enough to build not only a better Bozeman, but a better Montana for generations to come. I am growing in the nonprofit and political space and finding a voice. I would love to continue that growth with Forward Montana.

Please describe your board experience (whether being a board member or working closely with a board).

I currently work for Veterans for Responsible Leadership as an Engagement Manager. This organization is a Super Pac but working to get a 501c19. I manage everything from budget, compliance, reporting to volunteer events and engagement. I also sit on the board for the Sweet Pea Festival as an advertising chair. I love being a part of the community and helping with advertising and marketing efforts. A few years ago I interned with Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance and worked on grants, in-kind donations, and event organization.

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

operational skills (prior to my current role I was in payroll + accounting for 3 years), event planning, volunteer engagement, partnerships, communication and outreach skills. Any skills that I lack on I am eager to try to revamp them.


Katie Harrison

Billings, mt | Owner Sweetwater Cafe, Community Organizer MEIC

What excites you about Forward Montana & Forward Montana Foundation?

Oh gosh what doesn’t excite me about you all?!! You guys are perfect really. You combine environmental with social Justice with ACTION. And you do it in a way that is fun, palatable and cool!

Why are you interested in joining the Forward Montana Board?

Because it would be an absolute honor to be a part of the Board of one of the best nonprofits in Montana.

Please describe your board experience (whether being a board member or working closely with a board).

I started up SustainaBillings on my own and have been running it ever since. And I now am also employed part-time for a second nonprofit (MEIC).

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

My passion and appreciation for what FM is and does in Montana. I’m an active participant when I am involved in something – I take my commitments and responsibilities very seriously. And I love, respect and admire everyone I know at FM.


Nik James

Billings, MT | Store Manager at Autozone

What excites you about Forward Montana & Forward Montana Foundation?

The community education regarding current important issues in all areas. The peoples passion and compassion is highly addictive and I would love to be a part of that energy in our community.

Why are you interested in joining the Forward Montana Board?

I would love to bring ideas to the table and network with great people already making changes.

Please describe your board experience (whether being a board member or working closely with a board).

I have volunteered at Habitat for Humanity, Meal Train, and the annual river clean ups.

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

I believe in the power of positivity and knowledge. I have people skills given my 12 year career leading people. I am a part of the LGBTQIA+ community and have experiences that may useful in discussions and or educational opportunities.


Alyssa LaTray

Billings, MT | Director of Political & Governmental Relations – Western Native Voice

What excites you about Forward Montana & Forward Montana Foundation?

Forward Montana’s approach to engaging young people excites me. As a young person who frequents coffee shops, painting studios, and hip spots around town–Forward Montana and their flashy stickers are unavoidable. I am impressed by the way their team is able to garner authentic political interest in young people by reaching us in places we don’t expect to find political information.

Additionally, as someone who works in the non-profit world, I admire how fervently Forward Montana works to register young people to vote! Our vote is our power, and young people have the power to be the catalyst to palpable, powerful change.

Why are you interested in joining the Forward Montana Board?

The first time I encountered Forward Montana was at a Pride parade in Billings when I was in high school. I got a sticker that has been stuck to my car for the better part of 6 years; it said “Give a shit.” I couldn’t have said it any better than that; I was a young person in Montana who gave a shit about politics. Forward Montana has always impressed me with the reach and breadth of their work. It is an organization that provided me a channel to funnel the excitement and passion I felt about politics. That said, Native American youth are a powerful voting force; as an enrolled member of the Little Shell tribe, I am excited by the opportunity to represent the Native community as a board member of Forward Montana. I believe that the Native youth are a sleeping giant in the state of Montana, and with enough intentionality and effort, we can awaken them the same way Forward Montana impassioned me.

Please describe your board experience (whether being a board member or working closely with a board).

I am currently the Director of Political and Governmental Relations at Western Native Voice, a non-profit dedicated to civic engagement in Montana’s Indian Country. I have served in my role since June of 2023.

Prior to that, I was a field organizer with San Francisco Rising. In my role, I worked on a campaign to cancel student debt.

Additionally, I have volunteered with Planned Parenthood and Generation Rising.

What skills, characteristics, experience, or insight do you have that would be a valuable addition to the board?
  • Cultural familiarity and sensitivity: I have worked on all 7 reservations and with the Little Shell tribe. I am keenly aware of what it is like to be Native in the state of Montana.
  • Non-profit experience: I have worked and volunteered for several non-profits. I am deeply passionate about the role of non-profits in the political and civic engagement realm.
  • Expansive worldview: I hold an English and Political Science degree from Stanford, which I believe has broadened my perspective on national issues. Coupled with my familiarity of my hometown of Great Falls, my current city of Billings, and my familial ties to the Blackfeet reservation – I think that I am well-rounded in my understanding and knowledge of politics in MT and beyond.

Kaya Patten-Fusselman*

Livingston, MT | Executive Director, Livingston Food Resource Center

What excites you about Forward Montana & Forward Montana Foundation?

I love FMT and FMF because it’s sometimes the only place I can see my values and voice reflected in the Montana political process; when I engage I know I’m being heard and advocated for. I love this state with every piece of me, and because I love it I want to fight to make this a place that I, and the people I love, can live safely. FMT and FMF give me an avenue to do that.

Why are you interested in joining the Forward Montana Board?

I’m approaching the end of my first term as a board member and am currently the Vice Chair of the Forward Montana board. I would be honored to continue working with wonderful people who care about the future of the state, and advocating for the most vulnerable in this current economic and political climate. I feel strongly about continuing to work towards a future where there is bodily autonomy, climate justice, housing justice, and equity for all Montanans.

Please describe your board experience (whether being a board member or working closely with a board).

I have 10 years of nonprofit experience as an employee, volunteer, and board member for various nonprofits. I am the Executive Director for a nonprofit in Livingston and serve as the Vice Chair for the FMT board and sit on the finance committee.

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

I have experience in nonprofit communications, development, strategic planning, and management. But more importantly I love to have a good time with likeminded people!!!!


William Schenck

Missoula, MT | Donor Engagement Manager at
ACLU of Montana

What excites you about Forward Montana & Forward Montana Foundation?

Forward Montana isn’t afraid to embed care and creativity into the ways they engage with politics and the communities they serve– so many of the conversations we see around politics are more of the same, reenforcing status quos and what have you, but it’s evident that Forward Montana strives to make political engagement inclusive, expansive… and, dare I say… fun? When we talk about harnessing collective power to create new worlds, so much of that is intertwined with our capacity to imagine, radically— and I think that Forward Montana is committed to imagining, and helping other imagine.

Why are you interested in joining the Forward Montana Board?

Much of why I’m interested joining the Forward Montana Board is reflected in my answer to “What excites me about [the org.],” but I would add a couple things. Firstly, I am somewhat driven by a sense of obligation— I consider the privileges that I’ve enjoyed, for example access to education and gainful employment in the nonprofit sector, and I feel like the thing I “ought to do” to leverage those privileges, is to apply my skills toward where they can do the most good. I believe I could do some of that good through this board appointment, supporting Forward Montana’s sustainability and capacity to empower Montanas to acknowledge and cultivate their unique spheres of influence.

Secondly, I’d just say that I’ve lived in Montana for two years— I moved here to take a development job with the ACLU, where I am still working. The job, and, moreover the connections that I’ve been able to make through the job have been incredibly rewarding. I see this board service as an opportunity to grow the amount and depth of my connections with fellow residents, while exercising different “muscles” than I get to as a fundraiser.

Please describe your board experience (whether being a board member or working closely with a board).

From 2020 to 2022, I worked as a paid Senior Storytelling and Communications at an antiracist policy advocacy nonprofit in my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, called Forward Through Ferguson. From 2022 to present, I’ve been working as a fundraiser at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Montana.

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

I’ve picked up a lot of hard skills in my time in the nonprofit sector— some that may be relevant to this board service include cross-departmental project management, familiarity with budget drafting and fundraising data analysis, fundraising itself, and event planning.

Equally important are the soft skills I’ve gained— I think the most important one I’d like to share about, is the ability to show up to professional environments as the fullest, most authentic version of myself possible, even when it may feel a little uncomfortable. This has allowed me to build relationships with colleagues based on feelings of mutual safety and trust. My work style is marked by organization and attentiveness to detail, frequent and inclusive communication at all stages of a particular project, and a willingness to try new things.

As far as my personal background, my heritage plays a big part of who I am. I’m an American, born to a mother who emigrated here from the Philippines–her late-father was a senator, who sought asylum in the U.S. under threat of assassination by the dictatorship in-power at the time. My father’s side of the family is made up of Jewish immigrants who left Europe between World Wars. I think about these things often, as I reflect on the “team sports”-ness of modern politics. For my family who came before me, “politics” wasn’t some ambiguous concept that they could tap into and out of caring about on a whim. Their lives (and by extension, mine) were drastically shaped by their contemporary leaders and policies. Therefore, I feel that “politics,” whatever that may mean, is an inextricable part of my being.

Beyond this, I’ll share that I grew up in a low-income environment, that my education path has been non-linear, and that I have a history of dealings with the criminal legal system, including multiple arrests for non-violent offenses. I raise these things only to help indicate what different types of perspectives I might be able to speak from.


Faith Scow

Butte, MT | Political Director @ Big Sky 55+

What excites you about Forward Montana & Forward Montana Foundation?

FWMT helped me run a voter registration drive at my high school in 2015. It really jumpstarted my interest in activism. I am excited to see FWMT still doing the great work that helped me get involved when I was young.

Why are you interested in joining the Forward Montana Board?

I feel like I would be a great addition to the board given my experience in the political arena and unique upbringing.

Please describe your board experience (whether being a board member or working closely with a board).

Currently I am employed at a non-profit (Big Sky 55+) where I serve as the political director. I also am a volunteer of many non-profits, most recently knocking doors with the AFL-CIO and collecting signatures for a ballot measure for PPMT.

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

I am organized, thoughtful, and trustworthy. I believe my experiences would bring diversity to the board. I am a first generation college graduate and homeowner. I grew up in a home filled with addiction and learned a lot from growing up in that type of home.


Sarah Tidd*

Bozeman, MT | Vice President of Engineering Excellence at Avalara

What excites you about Forward Montana & Forward Montana Foundation?

I am blown away and energized by this organization and all the critical work that they do to GET OUT THE VOTE, get out the YOUNG vote, educate voters, use litigation to keep this crazy supermajority and greg in check, and of course, advance progressive policy that supports ALL in Montana.

Why are you interested in joining the Forward Montana Board?

I came to the board because I wanted to give back to a cause in which I deeply believe. I’d love to stay for the energy! I am in awe of the mightiness of both the staff and board members. It is palpable. The future of our beautiful state depends on its youth and I look forward to the work that Forward Montana will continue to do to GOTV, create community, lean on those with power to do the right thing, and celebrate diversity. I’d love the chance to help in these endeavors!

Please describe your board experience (whether being a board member or working closely with a board).

I have been on the board of Forward Montana for two years. I was on the board of the Sweet Pea Festival for 5 years. I am grateful for the opportunity to round out my private sector career by volunteering for causes that I believe in.

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

Leadership, HR, hiring, communications, process, efficiency, and coaching. My team at Avalara supports several thousand software engineers to deliver incrementally on Avalara priorities, achieve Avalara KPIs, embrace change through Agile methodologies, routinely optimize through data insights, ensure a mind-nourishing culture of continuous learning, extend team-ability with powerful tooling, maximize value delivery and value capture through minimally sufficient, accessible, easy-to-follow policies and processes, and delight customers by responding to their issues and taking their feedback improve products.