Following their first year as co-directors, Anne Hedges and Cari Kimball sat down to discuss some of MEIC’s biggest victories, challenges, and changes. This conversation is part of a new audio series and has been edited for clarity.
Anne: So Cari, it’s been a year in which you’ve been the Executive Director and the two of us have been co-directors. I love being in charge of policy. It’s super, super fun. But can you talk about where you think MEIC is and what’s happened in the past year since you’ve taken over?
Cari: One of the more exciting things that happened in 2021, on top of all the stuff going on in the world and to some degree because of all that stuff, MEIC added two new staff positions. The positions are really fulfilling needs that we as an organization had identified even three and four years ago about how we need a stronger and more robust environmental movement in the state of Montana. We need our environmental organizations that have different areas of expertise and issue areas to be working in collaboration and coordination. We created a Communications and Engagement Director position – that Katy Spence is fabulously fulfilling now – in January of ’21. In March of ’21, we had a Campaigns and Advocacy Director join our crew – Melissa Nootz, who’s similarly wonderful. The two of them have absolutely elevated the work that MEIC is doing.
We’ve always been a grassroots, membership-based organization, but my perception is that our historic strength has been more in policy expertise, legal expertise, and understanding the nitty gritty of environmental laws in the state. While membership and grassroots advocacy has always been a part of our work, we’re dedicating a little bit more energy and resources to that arm of our organization. I think it has the potential to pay dividends. It’s already increasing our membership number. I know it has already had an impact to increase our number of first time donors that we had in ’21, which also increases our number of membership households across the state. [For] fundraising, that’s fantastic, and in terms of the influence and ability we have to impact the environmental advocacy happening in the state, we’re going to have more ability to make an influence.
We also had four new board members join who are bringing fresh perspectives, and we’re really grateful for their leadership alongside the leadership of some long-standing members and board members who continue to provide institutional knowledge and the foundation that MEIC has enjoyed.
Anne: Agreed. What a great year 2021 was for MEIC. It really feels like everything gelled. We were able to bring on the resources that the movement as a whole, not just MEIC, needs. So, well done.
You can listen to the full conversation by scanning the QR code below with your smartphone’s camera or visiting www.meic.org/inside-meic. Future conversations will cover topics such as the history of Colstrip, NorthWestern Energy oversight, and the role of justice work at environmental nonprofits.
This article was published in the March 2022 issue of Down To Earth.