Staff

Anne Hedges

Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs she/her

As a member of MEIC’s Executive Leadership Team, Anne Hedges is MEIC’s director of policy and legislative affairs. She directs MEIC’s program work, including its legislative, policy, and legal activities. She began work at MEIC in 1993 and has worked on a wide range of pollution related issues during that time but most recently her primary focus is climate change, fossil fuels, clean air, and energy.

Anne received her B.S. in environmental policy analysis and planning from the University of California at Davis and a Masters of Environmental Law from Vermont Law School. She served in the Peace Corps as a national parks/environmental education volunteer in Paraguay.

She has received a number of awards, including the Cinnabar Foundation’s highest award, the Len and Sandy Sargent Stewardship Award; the Montana Wildlife Federation award for lobbying on behalf of conservation interests; Women’s Voices for the Earth ‘s Woman of the Year; and the Outstanding Preservation Leadership award from the Montana Preservation Alliance for “Championing Preservation of the Great Falls Portage National Historic Landmark.”

Anne can frequently be found hiking or riding her mountain bike on Helena’s trails, rafting western rivers, backpacking with her husband, or cooking for family and friends.

Contact Anne at: ahedges[at]meic.org or 406-443-2520 x102

Cari Kimball

executive director She/her

Cari Kimball’s work as a member of MEIC’s Executive Leadership Team focuses on ensuring the health of the organization’s finances and relationships with funders, members, and partners. She joined Team MEIC in 2018 as Development Director and took on the role of Executive Director at the beginning of 2021. Growing up on the outskirts of Billings with the Beartooths gracing the horizon, Cari gained a bone-deep appreciation for Montana’s expansive skies and awe-inspiring landscapes.

She brings deep non-profit experience to her work; in other professional capacities, Cari has raised money for a variety of non-profits, coordinated place-based outdoor education programs, noodled up conservation science-art projects, executed door-to-door political campaigns, and facilitated equity and inclusion development for non-profits.

Cari holds Environmental Studies degrees– a B.S. from Linfield College and an M.S. from the University of Montana, where she earned a certificate in Natural Resource Conflict Resolution. Cari is an alumna of the Wyss Scholars Program and the New Leaders Council. When not working with MEIC’s extraordinary staff, board, and members, Cari feeds her soul by hitting the trails with her husband, Brian, and daughter, Ruby.

Contact Cari at ckimball[at]meic.org or 406-443-2520 x100

Derf Johnson

deputy director | he/him

Derf Johnson has served as the clean water program director since 2010. In this role, Derf is a policy advocate, attorney, and lobbyist, and works primarily on coal, oil and gas development, and hard rock mining. Derf is also leading the Save Our Smith campaign.

Derf grew up in Montana’s Gallatin Valley. He received his Juris Doctor from the University of Montana School of Law, and his bachelor of arts in environmental studies and anthropology from the University of Montana. During law school, Derf worked in the land use planning clinic and served as a staff member for the Public Lands and Resources Law Review. He has a certificate in Natural Resources Conflict Resolution from the Center for Natural Resources and Environmental Policy, and he is a member of the Montana Bar Association (MBA) and the MBA section on Natural Resources, Energy, and the Environment. Derf has volunteered and worked previously with Montana Conservation Voters and the Montana Public Interest Research Group. Prior to joining MEIC, Derf worked as a statewide outreach coordinator for I-164, the successful statewide ballot initiative addressing predatory payday lending. He also lobbied during the 2007 session on consumer issues and voter access.

In his free time, Derf enjoys rafting and fishing Montana’s rivers, hiking, biking, skiing, and climbing in our beautiful mountain ranges, and picking a banjo tune.

Contact Derf at: djohnson[at]meic.org or 406-443-2520 x103

Ian Lund

Energy policy director | he/him

Ian Lund has spent the last several years working in renewable energy and recently graduated from Vermont Law School with a master’s degree in Energy Regulation and Law. He’s very excited to lead MEIC’s clean energy program and work with statewide and regional coalitions to develop clean and affordable energy solutions for Montanans. When he’s not working you can find him in the hills or the hot springs!

 Contact Ian at: ilund[at]meic.org or 406-443-2520 x007

Peyton Olson

administrative & development assistant | she/her

Peyton was born and raised in rural northwestern Minnesota. Growing up in the countryside ingrained her love for wide open spaces and landscapes. She received her Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of North Dakota. Following graduation, she lived in Minneapolis where she held administrative roles within the real estate and property title industries. Although her education and professional experience were in the realms of the business world, she carried with her the understanding that environmental consciousness is relevant in all fields. This core value led her to seek out the opportunity to combine her experience in administration with her passion for the environment when she moved to Montana earlier in 2022. Peyton is excited to channel her love for nature and her passion for protecting it into her work with MEIC.

 Contact Peyton at: polson[at]meic.org or 406-443-2520 x008

Melissa Nootz

Campaigns & advocacy Director | she/her

As Campaigns & Advocacy Director, Melissa engages with Montanans, MEIC members, and partner organizations, reinforcing our commitment across the state to ensure a clean and healthful environment for generations into the future.

A lifetime advocate for a clean and healthy environment, after high school, Melissa began her advocacy work promoting wind energy at Nebraska Citizen Action. She earned her B.A. in English and B.S. in Biological Sciences at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, and performed research studying evolutionary biology for nearly 10 years. The following decade, she became deeply impassioned with advocacy work supporting families. Working across different levels of government, both as an advocate and an elected official, to ensure effective climate and environmental policy for the past four years led her to join the MEIC team. 

Melissa currently lives in Livingston, Montana, with her husband and two daughters. When not serving as a Livingston City Commissioner, you might find her camping and hiking with her family, tending to chickens, cats, or the garden, and nearly always with her trusty little dog, Ruthie.

Contact Melissa at mnootz[at]meic.org or 406-443-2520 x006

Ann Schwend

Sustainable Communities Planning Advocate

Ann has been working in many aspects of land, water and community planning for years and is really excited to bring it full circle. What happens on the landscape impacts what happens to the water and consequently how that affects communities.  Ann fully believes that we cannot continue to address our growth and natural resource issues by working in independent silos. To build thriving, equitable communities for all Montanans we need to take a comprehensive, collaborative approach and learn to live within our natural resource means.  Montana is at a crossroads with unprecedented growth creating affordable housing pressures and increased demands on our limited natural resources, but we also have opportunities to be visionary about the future we would prefer.  Ann hopes to be part of the team to create and implement innovative solutions. 

Ann grew up in New Mexico but has lived in Montana since the early ’80s, in Missoula, Big Fork, Bozeman, Twin Bridges, and Helena. She has an MS in Land Resources and Environmental Studies from MSU and has raised four amazing humans and some poorly behaved dogs, cats and chickens. Ann is a small business owner, loves to garden, remodel old houses, recycle/upcycle cool stuff, and prefers to be outside. 

Contact Ann at aschwend[at]meic.org or 406-443-2520 x106

Katy Spence

COMMUNICATIONS & eNGAGEMENT DIRECTOR | she/her

Katy offers a range of experience from feature writing and social media management to business development and project management. She received a graduate degree in Environmental Science and Natural Resources Journalism from the University of Montana in 2018. After a foray into the world of tech business, Katy comes back to environmental work with a passion to make a difference and connect people to the information they need to get involved.

In her free time, Katy enjoys board games, time with friends, and reading.

Contact Katy at kspence[at]meic.org or 406-443-2520 x005

Julie Wintersteen

Administrative Officer | she/her

Julie was born and raised in the West and is in love with the western landscape. She is excited to join the fight for the protection of the places she holds dear.

Julie has a background in earth sciences, earning both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from Montana State University. Her focus of study was biogeography, and in particular, the climatic and land use changes over the years that affect lower timberline in the Madison range. Historical data clearly illustrated to her how human actions lead to environmental changes and if not recognized and addressed, lead to irreversible changes. That knowledge has been driving her ever since.

More recently, Julie has worked for a college at MSU, is an active member of Trout Unlimited in Livingston, Montana, and has fought for clean water and healthy fisheries in the Yellowstone watershed. 

Contact Julie at jwintersteen[at]meic.org or 406-443-2520 x104

Board of Directors

The Board of Directors has complete legal control of MEIC and overall responsibility for its well-being and success.

Kathy Juedeman

president | Helena, MT | she/her

I grew up in the South, and have lived in Houston and New Orleans, where I supported historic preservation, local food and farming, and reuse and repurposing organizations. My family was displaced from New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which increased my personal focus on climate change and community resilience. I was introduced to Montana in the mid-80s, soon after meeting my husband whose family lives and ranches here. Since then we’ve come to Montana several times a year to help with harvest, calving, and other farm and ranch activities, as well as for camping and hiking. I am still continually awestruck and inspired by the landscape and wildlife here. We moved fulltime to Montana in 2015, upon my retirement.

I worked in the energy industry for 32 years. My career included broad experience in management, Project Management, and a background in global information technology. I have been a supporter of MEIC since the 1990s, and intend to be a strong advocate for advancing Montanans’ right to a clean and healthful environment.

Gary Aitken

Ovando, MT | he/him

MEIC’s mission is pretty straight forward – to protect our clean and healthful environment. But straight forward doesn’t necessarily mean easy. MEIC’s strengths have always been its depth of knowledge, its attention to detail, and its ability to get things right. MEIC has been fortunate to recruit and retain outstanding, competent, dedicated, and talented staff. It can do this because what we do is meaningful, important, and successful.

The board’s primary job is to help set MEIC’s goals, ensure that the resources necessary to achieve those goals are available, and to generally ensure that the organization stays on track. I am interested in serving on MEIC’s board because I believe MEIC’s mission is critical to making life on this planet and in this state worthwhile. I hope my analysis and organizational skills and attention to detail will help keep the organization successful. If MEIC succeeds, we all benefit.

Bruce Bender

Missoula, MT | he/him

I was born and raised in farming area outside Miles City. It gave me a sense of the good land and also good community working together. I graduated from MSU in Chemical Engineering but grew to want to work protecting our water, air, and land. I was fortunate to work in City government for City of Helena for five years and 32 years for City of Missoula where the priority was to protect our rivers, the natural places, and our quality of life.

Now that I am retired my priority is to work on mitigating the affects of Climate Change and protecting the wonderful open places: the rivers and lakes, wilderness areas, wild life, and our opportunities to enjoy it . MEIC gives me the opportunity to support these efforts.

 

Charles Besancon

Missoula, MT | he/him

MEIC appeals to me very much because of its non-partisan perspective and focus on issues dear to my heart like landscape protection, climate change and clean water. I have 24 years of professional experience as a policy analyst, facilitating United Nations environmental negotiations, conducting environmental impact analyses, training park managers in planning, and promoting sustainable biodiversity financing.

Montana has been home since 1995 when I studied for a Master’s Degree at the University of Montana through the College of Forestry and Conservation. I’m back in Missoula after 13 years away working for the UN and other international environmental organizations. After working on six continents, and spending too much time away from my favorite mountains and rivers, it’s time to be back and to devote some of my energy to local issues.

Skye Borden

Missoula, MT

The price of a clean and healthful environment is, to paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, “eternal vigilance.” In my years of advocacy here in Montana, I have found that there is simply no better watchdog than MEIC when it comes to safeguarding our water, air and climate. As the former director of Environment Montana, I have been fortunate to partner with MEIC on a wide range of issues, from lead in school drinking water to local 100% renewable electricity resolutions, and I hope to continue that spirit of partnership in a new capacity as a member of MEIC’s board of directors. I believe that my boots-on-the-ground advocacy experience in Helena, and throughout the state, will help me be an asset to the organization as it navigates through whatever challenges and opportunities the upcoming years will bring.

Malcolm Gilbert

SECRETARY | helena, MT | he/him

Early on, I learned to fill my cup deep in Montana’s mountains, rivers, lakes, and streams. I’ve always had a good sense for the threats my favorite places face, and that it takes real effort to thwart them, but it wasn’t always so clear to me that good environmental advocates are able to shift the public’s perception of those threats and create a lasting culture of environmental awareness, accountability, and progress. MEIC and its staff have long been accomplishing this, and have been mentors and a stable source of inspiration to me in doing so as I continue carving out my own space in the conservation community. I’m eager to bring energy and passion for MEIC’s issues to its Board of Directors with inquisitiveness and an open mind, and am hopeful to offer a millennial’s insight so that we can keep the fire burning for many decades to come.

Diana Hammer

helena, MT | she/her

I am trained as a Life Scientist and am an avid user of public lands and waters and enjoy exploring nature with friends and family. I studied environmental science at Macalester College (B.A.) and in India, was an Agroforestry volunteer in Peace Corps in Niger, West Africa, and then as a consultant for WWF/IUCN. I earned a Master’s in Public Health from Johns Hopkins and a Master’s of Science in Biomimicry from Arizona State University. Through my community volunteer efforts and my work with ReGenerous Cities, LLC, I am committed to creating more resilient communities in a changing climate. I worked for the US Environmental Protection Agency for 29 years in Superfund (e.g., the Milltown Dam Removal and Clark Fork River Restoration) and other environmental programs; most recently, as a Tribal Program Manager, working to address environmental challenges in Indian Country. While at EPA and now, I have been keenly aware of MEIC’s critical role in protecting our right to a ‘clean and healthful’ environment and the places where we live, work, and, of course, where we play!

Madison Hebner

Bozeman, MT | She/her

I have been lucky to call Montana my home for the majority of my youth, spending my free time utilizing Montana’s clean waters, endless backcountry, and magnificent peaks for fishing, hiking, and skiing. My time spent as a statewide legislative organizer and lobbyist for climate justice- related issues with Forward Montana during the 2021 Legislative Session only furthered my passion for expanding clean energy and maintaining Montana’s clean air, land, and water. This work shed light on the importance of considering the economic impacts that environmental policies can have on communities and racial inequities that encompass the climate movement. This emphasis is what has fueled my current work in pursuing a M.S. in Microbiology and Immunology at Montana State University in Bozeman. I hope to bring a zealous, young perspective to MEIC’s Board and better connect my peers to statewide environmental activism. If you bump into me and my spunky dog on a local trail, be sure to say hi! 

Zuri Moreno

Missoula, MT | They/them

I’m a community organizer and policy specialist living in Missoula. My passion for community engagement around issues of social and environmental justice have allowed me many opportunities to work alongside community members who are pushing for change at the local and statewide level. I believe that environmental protection and health is inexplicably linked with racial and social justice movements, as marginalized communities are often the first ones to lose access to clean air and water. I’m keen to join the MEIC Board in order to support the work MEIC is doing in the state, and I will bring years of experience organizing and creating policy change. Additionally, I am committed to creating spaces that are equitable and accessible to all individuals.

Roger Sullivan

Kalispell, MT

MEIC is the most effective environmental advocacy organization in Montana! It has been a great honor to work with MEIC in the ongoing effort to vindicate the right of this and future generations of Montanans to a clean and healthful environment. In this effort I have advocated on behalf of MEIC on a number of occasions, including against oil and gas exploration adjacent to Glacier National Park, against the Highwood Coal-fired Generation Station near Great Falls, and in helping to achieve closure of Colstrip Generating Units 1 and 2. It has also been my great pleasure to have previously served on the board of MEIC. If selected to serve again, I would hope to contribute to MEIC through participating in the thoughtful analysis of requests for MEIC’s involvement in new matters, in the effective management of litigation, and in envisioning a sustainable future for MEIC.

Beth Taylor Wilson

Missoula, MT | she/her

I grew up in Missoula. Post high-school, I took a break from studies at the University of Montana, and took a “summer job” in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, moving away from Montana just as our fair state was drafting and adopting our extraordinarily prescient, forward-facing Montana Constitution. Montanans became constitutionally assured the “fundamental right to a clean and healthful environment.” When I left, Missoula had some of the worst temperature-induced winter “inversion” air pollution in the country. But thanks to activists like the Gals Against Smog and Pollution (GASP), who numbered my mother as a member, Missoulians forced the then Hoerner-Waldorf paper mill plant to start cleaning up its corporate act. Missoula’s air became far cleaner and healthier thanks to environmental mitigation and citizen activism. Environmental activism and stewardship is in my family DNA, and I’m excited and honored to have the opportunity to work with our state’s premier environmental watch-dog. 

Neal Ullman

helena, MT | he/him

I have a record of protecting clean air and water working in Congress and alongside MEIC’s lobby team as a lobbyist for Montana Conservation Voters. As a congressional staffer, I led efforts to defend the Clean Water Rule and preventing new industry loopholes in the Clean Air Act. In Helena, I worked with allies to come within a single vote of expanding clean energy by creating aggregate net metering. When I worked at MCV, I successfully urged the organization to join MEIC in a lawsuit designating the Hecla Mining Co. as a “bad actor,” helping to protect water and sacred cultural sites on the Flathead Indian Reservation. I’m excited to bring my experiences to MEIC’s Board and look forward to addressing climate change, expanding clean energy, and protecting Montana’s streams and rivers.

Board Emeritus

MEIC honors exceptional board members with a Board Emeritus title when they have been termed out of serving on our board.

Steve Gilbert

helena, MT | he/him

Steve Gilbert has been a Montana resident since 1967. For 43 of those years, he worked as a biological consultant. For 25 years, he was part-owner and president of an environmental consulting company that specialized in wildlife, aquatics/fisheries, soils, vegetation, forestry, range and hydrology. During that time, he worked on a couple hundred projects, mostly in the Rocky Mountain west. Separate from his business, Steve worked in Alaska on salmon studies, Yellowstone Park on grizzly bears, and the Teton Wilderness on an early satellite/radio-telemetry study with elk; did wildlife inventories in the North Cascades and Pasayten Wilderness in Washington; studied Icelandic gulls on Baffin Island, NWT, and cliff-nesting raptors in Glacier Park. He is an associate with the Montana Peregrine Institute and has conducted neo-tropical bird and raptor surveys in the west nearly every year since 1971. 

Steve is a strong environmental advocate and served on the boards of the Montana Environmental Information Center and Northern Plains Resource Council for many years. He was chosen as the MEIC Community Activist of the Year in 2003. In 2013, he received the Len and Sandy Sargent award for meritorious service. In 2017, Steve was named the MEIC Conservationist of the Year. He has testified in the Montana Legislature and U.S. Senate on water and air quality, soils, aquatics and wildlife habitat issues relating to irresponsible energy development, coal and hardrock mines. He was on the board of Great Old Broads for Wilderness, an organization based in Durango, Colorado, and he was on the board of Western Lands Project in Seattle for 8 years.

For 20 years, Steve was a professional licensed Montana fly fishing guide. During those years, he guided on nearly every trout stream of note in Montana. Steve was an Orvis endorsed guide for many years and National Guide-of-the-Year in 1990. He came to his senses a few years ago and now spends as much time as possible fishing on his own in less well-known areas.

Steve has worked and/or played in all 56 Montana counties and every mountain range, wilderness area and national park in the state. He has skied and walked through the Bob Marshall and Scapegoat Wilderness, the Mission Mountain Wilderness, Bitterroot-Selway Wilderness, Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness and into every corner of Yellowstone and Glacier Parks. He has paddled thousands of miles of Montana’s spectacular canoe waters.

He has a daughter and son and spends lots of time each fall filling freezers with elk, deer, waterfowl and upland game birds with their assistance.

Steve retired in 2012 from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks where he was the state non-motorized trails specialist. As such, he helped administer the federally-funded Recreational Trails Program (RTP) and inspected trails projects funded by the program from border to border and through wilderness and backcountry areas. The RTP in Montana funds about 60 groups, agencies and communities annually with about $1.5 million. Part of his work at FWP involved periodic inspections of the several hundred projects across Montana paid for in part by the Land and Water Conservation Fund.