Staff

Anne Hedges

Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs

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 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.

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

Cari Kimball

executive director

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@meic.org or 406-443-2520 x100

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

Malcolm Gilbert

SECRETARY | 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.