Staff

Jim Jensen

Executive director

Jim Jensen has been MEIC’s Executive Director since 1985. Previously he served in the Montana House of Representatives from Billings where he was a member of the Natural Resources, Fish and Game, and Judiciary committees. Prior to taking his present position he was a lobbyist for various interests including the elderly, child care providers, and judges. From 1990 to 1994 he was an elected supervisor of the Lewis and Clark County Conservation District.

In 1988 Jim was a founding member of the State Environmental Leadership Program, a national network of state-based environmental groups headquartered in Madison, WI.

In 1989 he was appointed by President George H.W. Bush and reappointed by President Bill Clinton to a Federal Advisory Committee to the U.S. EPA Administrator on mine waste regulation. He also served as a member of the Western Governors Association’s Mine Waste Advisory Group. In 1998 he authored and was the chief advocate for a successful ballot initiative that banned open-pit cyanide-leach gold mining in Montana.

He is a member of the Steering Committee of the Boulder, CO-based Western Clean Energy Campaign and is on the board of directors of the Portland, OR-based Renewable Northwest Project. He was a founding steering committee member of the Seattle based Northwest Climate Connections (now a program of Climate Solutions), a collaborative organization of private businesses, governments and public interest groups who are working to substantially reduce green house gas emissions in the Pacific Northwest (including British Columbia) through voluntary, co-operative and incentive based approaches.

He attended Westminster College in Salt Lake City and holds a B.A. in Political Science from the Univ. of Montana (1980).

Contact Jim at: jjensen@meic.org or 406-443-2520 x106

Anne Hedges

DEPUTY DIRECTOR & LEAD LOBBYIST

Anne Hedges is deputy director and lead lobbyist for the Montana Environmental Information Center where she has worked on pollution related issues for 24 years. She works with elected officials and government agencies to adopt, interpret, and enforce strong environmental regulations. She helps organize individuals and communities to effectively participate and influence government decisions. Her work currently focuses on minimizing climate change and protecting air and water from the impacts of fossil fuel development.

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 spent two years in the Peace Corps as an environmental education volunteer in Paraguay.

In 2006 Anne was given an award by the Montana Wildlife Federation for her outstanding work lobbying on behalf of conservation interests. She also received a similar award from Women’s Voices for the Earth two years earlier. In December 2008, the Helena-based Cinnabar Foundation recognized Anne with its highest award, the Len and Sandy Sargent Stewardship Award. In September 2010, Anne received the Outstanding Preservation Leadership award from the Montana Preservation Alliance for “Championing Preservation of the Great Falls Portage National Historic Landmark.”

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

Derf Johnson

clean water program director, staff attorney

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@meic.org or 406-443-2520 x103

Cari Kimball

development director

Cari Kimball joined Team MEIC in 2018. 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.

In other professional capacities, Cari has raised money for a variety of non-profits, 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 was a Wyss Scholar. 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@meic.org or 406-443-2520 x100

Conor Ploeger

Clean Energy Program Director

As of 2020, Conor Ploeger is MEIC’s Clean Energy Program Director. As the Clean Energy Program Director, Conor works with local and state officials to advocate and accelerate the development of clean energy in Montana. By working with elected officials and community leaders, the Clean Energy Program Director works to better Montana by not only advocating for a healthy environment, but by ensuring that Montanans lower their energy costs with the adoption of clean, renewable energy.

Conor grew up out west in Reno, NV, but left the state in 2017 to attend Vermont Law School in order to pursue a career in environmental work. Now, after falling in love with Montana, Conor resides in Helena.

Contact Conor at cploeger@meic.org or 406-443-2520 x101

Mel Griffin

Special projects  

In 2012, Mel moved from Minneapolis to Helena to pursue a career in the arts. She immediately fell in love with Montana’s beautiful trails and rivers and decided to make the relocation permanent.

Mel spends most of her time working with MEIC’s highest contributors.

Before joining the MEIC staff, Mel was a Resident Artist at the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, and also worked as a college professor and outdoor educator. She continues to work as a professional ceramic artist and illustrator from her new studio and home in the Scratchgravel Hills.

In her free time, Mel can be found trail running, cooking, and observing and drawing wildlife.

Contact Mel at: mgriffin@meic.org or 406-443-2520 x105

Adam McLane

Business manager

With MEIC since 1985, Adam manages MEIC’s finances, helps on member recruiting and fundraising, edits MEIC publications, and assists on other projects. He maintains all MEIC’s databases and mailing lists. He has a B.A. in History from Williams College (1960), an M.B.A. in Accounting from Stanford University (1968), is a Certified Public Accountant, and has worked for nonprofit organizations since 1972.

Contact Adam at: mclane@meic.org or 406-443-2520 x107

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

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.

Kim Wilson

Vice President  |  Helena, MT

I serve on the MEIC Board because MEIC is the only state organization in Montana effectively and comprehensively focusing on the most important issue of our time, climate change. Its work on this issue over the years has been groundbreaking and effective, a breath of fresh air, so to speak, in a very dysfunctional political system dominated in Montana by forces and political parties who refuse to face the reality of climate change and their responsibilities as leaders to do something about it.

I’ve been actively involved in MEIC since I first became a board member in 1986, beginning a four-year stint on the Board and serving as president for the last two. Since then I have represented MEIC in numerous lawsuits seeking to enforce Montanans’ unique rights to a clean and healthful environment and to know about our governments’ operations. I’m always in awe of the MEIC’s staff, and their commitment to the organization and its causes. MEIC has stayed true to its vision during the past quarter-century of my involvement with the organization, and I want to work with MEIC while it continues this vital work into the future.

Dustin Leftridge

Secretary  |  kalispell, MT

Dustin grew up in the Mountains of Western Montana and the Redwoods of the Pacific Northwest. Between surfing in the Pacific and skiing the slopes of Big Mountain, his passion for the outdoors inspired his academic path into policy and law.

He attended The University of Montana for his undergraduate degrees in Geology and Political Science where he served as the president of the student body and the board chair of the Montana Public Interest Research Group. Dustin received his J.D. from the University of Montana School of Law where he served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Public Land and Resources Law Review and interned for the U.S. Forest Service.

During his summers, Dustin worked as a river guide throughout Montana and Idaho, where his admiration for wild places, such as the Middle Fork of the Salmon, inspired his career in conservation and public interest law.  Dustin currently serves on the board of directors for Citizens for a Better Flathead and works as a trial attorney for McGarvey, Heberling, Sullivan and Lacey P.C. in Kalispell.

John Rundquist

Treasurer  |  helena, MT

I love Montana. How lucky we are to live close to the rivers, streams, lakes, plains, mountains, wildlife, small towns, and colorful history that make Montana unique and special in the world. She deserves our protection for all generations, present and future.

Much of my professional career involved working with municipal governments to implement state and federal rules originating with the Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Water Act. I am recently retired, but still very committed to bringing my experience and perspective to water quality and water policy in our state.

I’ve admired MEIC and its accomplishments for many years. I feel that no other organization in Montana has done more to preserve our constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment. Its record of success is unprecedented. I would like to do my part to help MEIC continue strongly in its mission.

Gary Aitken

Ovando, MT

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

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

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.

Augusta “Gusty” Clarke

Chicago, IL

For the past several years I worked at Montana Land Reliance, helping to protect agricultural lands, fish and wildlife habitat, and open space across Montana. As a dedicated sportswoman, I understand the importance of these resources to our rural and state economies and to our identity as Montanans.

I recently started my first year of graduate school at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business where I’m deepening my expertise in the economics of community-based solutions to conservation problems.

I am excited at the prospect of helping to guide our state’s preeminent environmental defense organization in addressing critical environmental threats and to work to promote and preserve laws that protect our environment and our way of life. I believe in Montana and pledge to work diligently as a board member of MEIC and to raise a strong voice to promote what is good and unique about our land and culture.

Malcolm Gilbert

helena, MT

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.

Steve Gilbert

Helena, MT

Montana’s constitution gives us the right to a clean and healthful environment. MEIC is the only environmental organization in Montana working every day to safeguard that right. I am thankful for their tenacity in the daily battles with those who would trade our clean air and water for fat paychecks. I am proud to have been an MEIC member and member of the Board for many years, and would like to continue my support through the Board as long as you’ll have me.

Diana Hammer

helena, MT

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!

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

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

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.