Accelerate Montana is comprised of a number of programs dedicated to advancing workforce and economic development across the state of Montana.

Our team members are all here to help!  

      Accelerate Montana

      Scott Whittenburg_RESIZED

      Scott Whittenburg


      Scott Whittenburg is the President of Montana Technology Enterprise Center and Accelerate Montana. Since 2013, Scott has served as the Vice President for Research and Creative Scholarship and Dean of the Graduate School at the University of Montana. He is on the Board of the Missoula Downtown Association. Previously, Scott was the Vice President and Chancellor for Research and Economic Development at the University of New Orleans. Scott holds a B.S. in Chemistry from Oregon State University and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Utah.

      Paul Gladen_RESIZED

      Paul Gladen


      Paul Gladen is the Director of Accelerate Montana, the University of Montana’s portfolio of economic development programs, and Director of the Blackstone LaunchPad. Paul is a founding team member of the Montana Code School and co-founder of the Hellgate Venture Network. He also serves on the Board of the Missoula Economic Partnership and MonTEC. Paul was the 2017 Montana Ambassador Educator of the Year. A native of England, Paul has a MA in Mathematics from Oxford University and an MBA from Manchester Business School. He moved to Missoula in 2008 and has been helping to shape the MT entrepreneurial ecosystem since.


      Jenny Harms

      Director of Finance and Operations

      Jenny brings more than twenty years of nonprofit experience to her role with Accelerate Montana working across finance, operations, fund development, and programs development. Prior to joining AccelerateMT, Jenny’s work spanned entrepreneurship, impact investing, workforce development, and community and economic development. She is a proud AmeriCorps alumna having served New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity as a volunteer coordinator. Jenny holds a B.S. in Zoology and Certificate in Women’s Studies from the University of Wisconsin, an MBA with a concentration in Social Entrepreneurship from Duke University, and a Certificate in Financial Success for Nonprofits from Cornell.

      Karen Dove

      Karen Dove

      Director of Program Integration

      Karen is the Director of Program Integration at Accelerate Montana. Karen brings over 20 years of experience in learning, leadership development, workforce development, community and economic development, project and program management, and change leadership to her role at AMT. In her spare time, she serves as a Director, Board of Directors, for the Project Management Institute's Educational Foundation and teaches project management and leadership development. When she is not working for Accelerate, you will most likely find her outside, enjoying the outdoors.

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      Rebekah Skoog

      Director of Learning Development and Technology

      Rebekah M. Skoog comes to Accelerate Montana with a wide range of experiences in education, and curriculum development. Skoog completed her Ph.D. in Anthropology of Education in the spring of 2022. Her doctoral research focused on language educator socialization and the impact of socialization on perspectives surrounding pedagogy and practice. As the Director of Learning Development and Technology, Skoog utilizes her background in teaching and learning to coordinate and execute training programs that fill the gap between education and the workforce. Skoog comes to Accelerate Montana because the goal is to offer alternatives for learners who prefer a non-academic track. “Providing people with the tools and capabilities they need is an essential part of our work, for some this is beyond the classroom.”


      Michael Braun

      Director, Employer Partnerships

      Mike hails from the Swiss Alps and the Italian seaside. He spent a decade in various industries and 15 years teaching strategy and entrepreneurship at the U of M and abroad. Hobbies include casting a fly, firing up the stove, and importing Italian wine.

      Elizabeth Dove_RESIZED

      Elizabeth Dove

      Learning Designer

      Elizabeth brings her expertise in design, pedagogy, and digital media to her role as Learning Designer for Accelerate Montana. Elizabeth began as faculty in the School of Visual and Media Art, University of Montana, teaching printmaking, photography, design, and co-Directing the Innovation Factory. Her artwork is exhibited internationally and she is one of 75 artists profiled in Contemporary American Printmakers. Originally from Baltimore, Elizabeth received her BFA from the Maryland Institute, College of Art, and MFA from Vermont College.

      Mercedes Bawden_RESIZED

      Mercedes Bawden

      Marketing Director

      Mercedes is the Marketing Manager for Accelerate Montana. Her passion lies in tailoring each marketing strategy to each individual business's unique needs. She ensures a truly bespoke experience. Through strategy, brand development, and implementation, Mercedes has helped businesses gain confidence with their marketing and ads. Her passion for developing businesses and helping entrepreneurs is what led her to Accelerate Montana.


      Dani Buehler_RESIZED

      Dani Buehler

      Outreach Coordinator

      Dani Buehler is the Regional Outreach and Recruitment Coordinator for the Rapid Training Program based in Lewistown focusing primarily on the Central and Southern regions of Montana. For many years, Dani has been working in libraries across the state in many different capacities from archival work, youth services, and, most recently, as the director of the Lewistown Public Library. She received her history degree from MSU - Bozeman where she studied film, anthropology, and religious studies. Dani's primary career goals center around community development. When not working, Dani enjoys outdoor activities primarily hiking, skiing, and anything on the water.

      Ticia Cliff RESIZED

      Ticia Cliff

      Workforce Development Program Specialist

      Ticia is based out of the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation/Harlem area. She is the Rapid Training Learning and Career Coordinator. She will be an assistant trainee to find the best Accelerate course that is right for them.

      Lynn-Wood Fields_RESIZED

      Lynn-Wood Fields

      Program Manager, Film & Media

      Award-winning filmmaker, producer and educator, Lynn-Wood Fields graduated with her MFA in digital filmmaking from the University of Montana. Her work has since gone on to screen at over 50 film festivals and venues globally. She owns Montana Film Tax Credits and Montana Media Center which focuses on training Montana filmmakers. She is also a member of the MEDIA Coalition of Montana (MCM) which is working on legislation around the MEDIA (Montana Economic Development Industry Advancement) tax credits and cap raises. She is passionate about Montanans benefiting from the economic impact of the film and the media industry in our state

      Shane Kravik_RESIZED

      Shane Kravik

      Outreach Coordinator

      Shane is a native of Montana and has lived in the Bitterroot Valley since 2002. Shane Graduated from UM-Western with a BA degree in Literature & Writing and is nearing completion of his M.S. degree in Business Management from Minot State University. Shane has been working in the workforce development field for 20 years with a focus on the education and training of young adults and youth. When not at work Shane can be found spending his time hiking, fishing, kayaking, and cross-country skiing with his family which includes his wife, 2 daughters, 2 sons-in-law, and a beautiful granddaughter.

      Katherine Lechman_RESIZED

      Katherine Booher

      Program Director, Construction Trades Workforce Development

      Katherine is the Job Site Ready Program Manager and is based out of Missoula. In addition to her work with AccelerateMT, she teaches COLS 194: You at UM, and is a doctoral student in the educational leadership department. When she isn't working or studying, you can find her hiking with her spunky pup and reading a good book.


      Gerlinda Morrison

      Indigenous Outreach Coordinator

      Based out of SouthEast Montana Gerlinda lives in Crow Agency, MT. She is the Indigenous Outreach Coordinator for four tribes in Montana: Apsaalooke, Northern Cheyenne, Rocky Boy, Fort Peck. I have been teaching at a local TCU for last ten years in the science department. I enjoy learning new things.


      Will Richards

      Outreach Coordinator

      Will Richards is the Rapid Training Outreach Coordinator for Northwest Montana. Before working with Accelerate Montana, he worked in the Occupational Trades at Flathead Valley Community College. He is based in Kalispell.


      Crystal Little Owl

      Indigenous Outreach Coordinator

      Crystal Little Owl is an enrolled member of the Aaniiih, otherwise known as the Gros Ventre. Fort Belknap Indian Community is her homeland, but she currently resides in Polson, MT. Crystal is the Indigenous Outreach Coordinator for the Bitterroot Salish, Kootenai, Pend d'Oreille, Blackfeet, Whiteclay, Assiniboine, and Little Shell Tribal Nations. She enjoys dancing at pow-wows, hiking, and snowboarding.

      Cassandra Sunell_RESIZED

      Cassandra Sunell

      Program Manager

      A Montana native, Cassandra Sunell, graduated from the University of Montana with a Bachelor’s degree in Business with an emphasis in International Relations. She is a Montana Ambassador that serves at the pleasure of the Governor of Montana, Founder/Curator of TEDxWhitefish, Co-founder of Butte Young Professionals, and board member for the Montana Ambassadors. Cassandra was recently the Business Recruitment and Outreach Director for Butte Local Development Corporation and worked with local and state partners to attract businesses to Butte and Montana before joining the Montana World Trade Center and the Montana Bioscience Cluster Initiative.

      Alex Fregerio (1)

      Alex Fregerio

      Job Site Ready Program Instructor

      Alex has dedicated over two decades to the education and construction sectors in Montana. Born and raised in Kalispell, he began his career straight out of high school, initially operating a shovel for a local excavation company. This experience led to summers spent in Glacier National Park, engaging in road construction. Since then, Alex has immersed himself in every facet of homebuilding, from groundwork to roofing and everything in between. A graduate of the University of Montana with a degree in English Education, Alex has imparted knowledge both locally in western Montana and internationally, including teaching stints as far away as Berlin, Germany. He is deeply passionate about learning and teaching, eager to nurture the next generation of Montana's trades workers. With a firm conviction that the construction industry is inclusive and offers rewarding, varied career paths, Alex advocates for its accessibility to all Montanans. In his leisure time, he enjoys hunting, hiking, watching and playing rugby and camping with his wife and daughter.

      Justin Mason_RESIZED

      Justin Mason

      eLearning Specialist and Instructional Designer

      Justin Mason has been building competency-based micro-credentials since 2016 and has over a decade of experience in higher education as an instructional designer and eLearning technologist. A former librarian, he is passionate about fostering and recognizing learning and skills developed throughout life—whether through formal education, work, community engagement, or play.


      Anya Smith

      Marketing Assistant

      Anya graduated summa cum laude from the University of Montana in 2022 with a BA in Anthropology and a minor in Global Public Health. She comes from a rural town in Montana. Phrases like "start up" and "entrepreneur" were commonly used in her family, stoking her interest in small business endeavors from a young age. After serving a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA for the WBC, she is thrilled to continue working with Accelerate Montana. Anya enjoys filmmaking, writing, and dancing in her free time.

      Emma Varney_RESIZED

      Emma Varney

      Program Assistant

      Emma is a student at the University of Montana pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration-Cybersecurity. Born and raised in Atlanta, GA with a background in hospitality and property management, she is passionate about creating fulfilling experiences, designing business solutions, and providing innovative opportunities for growth and development. She's currently working as a Program Operations Assistant for Accelerate Montana, and in her free time enjoys skiing, rock climbing, and attending arts and culture festivals.

      Caden Fox_RESIZED

      Caden Fox

      Director of Customer Development

      Caden is a recent UM Grad working on the SkillsFWD Project. Originally from the Bay Area, he has called Missoula his home for the bast few years while getting his degree. In a few months, he will be in Germany as part of the Congressional Bundestag Youth Exchange Program for Young Professionals. He has experience in marketing, coaching student entrepreneurs, and computer programming. He likes pina coladas and getting caught in the rain. In his free time you can catch him hiking, practicing his German, or buying way too much food.

      Accelerate Montana Rural Innovation Initiative (A.M.R.I.I.)


      Karl Unterschuetz

      Outreach & Engagement Manager, Program Manager

      Karl has over 20 years of experience in entrepreneurial ecosystems, growing up in his family’s organic agriculture supply business in the burgeoning organic industry of the late 1980's. Karl also managed the Northwest Biofuels Working Group and created the Sustainability Award during the inaugural year of the PNW Clean Tech Open. As the Outreach and Engagement Manager at AMRII, Karl is supporting the development of the Accelerate Montana’s Rural Innovation Initiative and the mission to foster lasting “start-up” successes for rural communities in Montana. Karl earned a BA in ecological science from Western

      Blackstone Launchpad 

      Sarah Truglio_RESIZED

      Sarah Truglio

      Blackstone LaunchPad Manager

       Sarah has been with Accelerate Montana since February 2022. She has extensive experience working with startups & entrepreneurs, managing business operations, marketing & outreach activities, event planning, community & relationship building, and is passionate about all aspects of entrepreneurship. Prior to joining Accelerate Montana, she was the Director of a Small Business Development Center at Washington State University & the Director of Business Development for a county in Washington State. Where she assisted small businesses & entrepreneurs with developing & improving their business management skills to effectively start or manage a business, as well as managed co-working spaces, and business incubators.

      Cyber Montana

      Jeff Arends_Resized

      Jeff Arends


      Jeff was born and raised in Missoula, MT. He studied Math and Computer Science at the University of Montana and has been teaching since 2011. He has completed several of the CompTIA certifications, including the CySA+ (Cybersecurity Analyst). Currently, he is teaching math and IT courses at Missoula College. Jeff taught at a GenCyber summer camp in 2021 where middle school students were introduced to several STEM topics such as electronics and digital forensics. He is organizing several other similar summer camps throughout Montana for summer 2022.

      Bianca Bostrom_RESIZED

      Bianca Bostrom

      Graduate Assistant

      Bianca is a graduate student at the University of Montana working towards a Master of Science degree in Business Analytics. She is from Malmo, Sweden, and came to Missoula in 2017 to attend the University of Montana where she graduated from in May of 2021 with Bachelors degrees in Management Information Systems and Marketing. Bianca has worked in the Marketing and Technology Consulting field and is the customer point of contact with several marketing efforts at CyberMontana.

      Diana Burkey Resized

      Dianne Burke


      Dianne Burke is a cybersecurity faculty member at Missoula College University of Montana and serves as Director of CyberMontana. She has taught networking, security, data operations, and computer forensics courses in both the public and private sectors She recently completed a career as a forensic analyst where she specialized in ESI collection and analysis and assisted counsel in cases across the U.S. Ms. Burke holds a B. A. from Rice University, an M.S. from the University of Houston, an M. Ed. The University of Montana, and is a doctoral student at the University of Montana

      Kristal Crowley_RESIZED

      Kristal Crowley

      Special Projects Coordinator

      Kristal Crowley serves as STEM Program Outreach & Student Retention Coordinator at Missoula College. In this role, she actively recruits middle and high school students from local and regional Montana schools, assesses and monitors student progress, engages with a broad community of partner base to gather information on specific needs, and collaborates with Montana businesses to allow gainful employment. This position also includes promoting positive student outcomes as well as supporting academic and career readiness skills. Prior to her current role, she worked as a Director at a local non-profit and has a background in Curriculum Studies.

      Austin Headshot

      Austin Horner

      Outreach Coordinator

      Austin Horner works as an outreach coordinator at Missoula College. Currently working on training available under CyberMontana for businesses in the Montana area. This training is pointed at increasing End User security and awareness for those businesses. He is also working to recruit and assess students in the local Montana Area to help accelerate learning in the area of computer and network security. His background in Information System and Computer Support Associates from the University of Montana Missoula College aid in his ability to assist those students as they progress through their programs. Prior to his current roles, Austin also worked at Computer Training Camps (Montana Code School), which helped students learn the basics of web app development.

      Christopher Prosa_Resized

      Christopher Prosa

      Program Manager

      Christopher Prosa serves as Director of Workforce Training & Career Education at Missoula College. He also serves as Program Manager for CyberMontana where he works with leadership and support teams to develop and manage cyber-related student workforce development programs and provide specialized workforce training and career education. In this role, he also works to forward cyber awareness and security training and education initiatives across the state of Montana as well as business partner development and engagement efforts.

      Zach Rossmiller_Resize

      Zach Rossmiller

      Chief Information Officer

      Zach Rossmiller is the Associate Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer at the University of Montana (UM).  Prior to the CIO role in 2020, Zach served as UM’s Executive Director of Cyber-Infrastructure and was responsible for campus-wide systems administration, research computing, data centers, network infrastructure, telecommunications, and classroom technology. Zach received an MBA, a B.S. in Management Information Systems, and an AAS in Computer Networking from UM. Along with earning degrees, Zach has taught UM courses on operating systems, enterprise security, desktop security, and business systems analysis design.

      Missoula College

      Tom Gallagher

      Tom Gallagher


      Tom has been a professor of Information Technology and Computer Science at Missoula College, the University of Montana since 2001. Prior to coming to UM, Tom served in the roles of Technology Director and System Administrator. He holds a doctoral and master's degree in Education Leadership from the University of Montana, a master's degree in Computer Science from Western Washington University, and a baccalaureate degree in Mathematics from Carroll College.

      Montana APEX Accelerator

      Patty Cox_RESIZED

      Patty Cox

      Government Contracting Advisor

      With over 35 years of experience working in the high-tech, financial services, and legal industries, Patty Cox has deep knowledge of business operations and management. Patty joined the Montana APEX team in 2012 and earned her CPP (Certified Procurement Professional) certification in 2014. She is certified by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as a verification assistance counselor. Patty is a member of the National Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (APTAC), a network of over 500 experienced procurement professionals. She manages the Missoula APEX located at the University of Montana counseling businesses in Missoula, Powell, Mineral, Granite, Deer Lodge, Lake, and Ravalli counties.

      Missoula SBDC Network


      Jennifer Stephens

      SBDC Regional Director

      Jennifer Stephens brings 10+ years of grassroots and formal economic development experience to her role as Missoula SBDC Regional Director. With hands-on business management experience and training, Jennifer has a passion for working with small and micro-enterprise businesses as well as helping new startups see the potential for future growth. Passionate about providing opportunities for Montanans, Jennifer helped start and continues on the core advisory team for Montana Code School, Montana’s first computer programming boot camp which takes students from little or no coding knowledge to junior dev level in 12 weeks.

      Steve Clairmont_RESIZED

      Steve Clairmont

      Business Advisor

      Steve Clairmont is a Montana Native and provides over 15 years of economic development and entrepreneurial development support in his role as a Business Advisor. Steve has an Associates of Science in Electronic Engineering Technology and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and over 40 years of work experience in the private sector. Steve has earned his Economic Development Finance Professional certification with the National Development Council and is a former recipient of the SBA’s “Minority Small Business Champion of the Year”. Steve has owned and operated Eagle Services, a business consulting company since 2019 and his wife Kyunghee has provided cosmetology services in Polson Montana since 2006. He has provided bookkeeping services for both businesses since their inception. Having worked as an individual contributor in various capacities in his work career and in management positions from Supervisor up to the President of a corporation, Steve brings a great deal of professional expertise and experience in business operations, growth, and improvement. His work experience includes expertise in manufacturing, field service, and electronic engineering from his work in the semiconductor equipment industry; entrepreneur training, plan development, and finance from his work in economic development; and a well-rounded level of expertise from his other roles and from his work with entrepreneurs in western Montana. Steve worked for 13 years as the president of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes’ economic development corporation S&K Business Services, Inc. on the Flathead Reservation. He also served as the Business Center Director for Mission West Community Development Partners in Ronan for two years. He has found a great passion for supporting our entrepreneurs as they pursue their business efforts.

      Montana World Trade Center

      Brigitta Miranda-Freer_RESIZED

      Brigitta Miranda-Freer

      Executive Director MWTC, Director of Operations for MonTEC

      Brigitta Miranda-Freer has served as executive director of Montana World Trade Center® (MWTC) since 2014 and operations director for MonTEC since 2018. MWTC spearheads FDI attraction for Montana. Prior to her current roles, Brigitta served as business development director for Missoula Economic Partnership, spearheading business attraction, retention, and expansion strategies, and MWTC membership manager, counseling exporters on global markets, distributor/foreign partner qualification, international shipping and logistics, and mitigating foreign payment risk. Brigitta holds undergraduate degrees in International Affairs and Spanish Latin American Area studies from the American University in Washington, DC, and an MBA from the University of Montana.

      Rocky Mountain Women's Business Center


      Kassi Strong

      Rocky Mountain WBC, Program Director

      Kassi Strong is the program director of the WELL Women's Business Center. As a digital marketer and business strategist, she is passionate about helping companies grow and succeed by implementing thoughtful business plans and innovative marketing strategies. Kassi is a born and raised Montanan and has worked with businesses of all sizes, from local food and beverage companies to large, venture-backed tech startups. She has also started and grown multiple businesses of her own. When she isn't meeting with or advocating for women business owners in Montana you can likely find her strolling through an antique store or enjoying time outside with her husband and two sons.

      Mariah Omeasoo_RESIZED

      Mariah Omeasoo

      Rocky Mountain WBC, Marketing Coordinator

      Mariah was born and grew up on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana. She is an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Tribe in Montana and the Ermineskin Cree Nation in Alberta, Canada. She has a Bachelor of Business Administration-Marketing from the University of Montana, where she also graduated a University Scholar from the Davidson Honors College. During her time at the University of Montana, Mariah was involved in Kyiyo Native American Student Association. As a member, she promoted the traditions and customs of Indigenous people and supported cultural diversity on campus. As a student, she interned with Accelerate MT as a Project Support Intern.


      Marguerite Thordarson

      Rocky Mountain WBC, Business Advisor

      Marguerite was born and grew up in the diverse landscapes on Montana. She’s a mother of three intelligent, energetic, creative people who are all very differently talented and uniquely impassioned. When spending time together, they enjoy walks in nature, playing with dogs, Sunday baking, and big messy craft projects.


      Anya Smith

      Marketing Assistant

      Anya graduated summa cum laude from the University of Montana in 2022 with a BA in Anthropology and a minor in Global Public Health. She comes from a rural town in Montana. Phrases like "start up" and "entrepreneur" were commonly used in her family, stoking her interest in small business endeavors from a young age. After serving a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA for the WBC, she is thrilled to continue working with Accelerate Montana. Anya enjoys filmmaking, writing, and dancing in her free time.

      Angie Willey_RESIZED

      Angie Willey

      Rocky Mountain WBC, Program Assistant

      Angie Willey is a versatile administrative assistant with over 10 years experience. Working with various types of businesses she has built up a unique set of skills. Helping businesses to succeed is a true passion for her. Outside of work, Angie enjoys spending time with her husband, their beautiful daughter and their pups!

      Native Women Launch

      Mariah Omeasoo_RESIZED

      Mariah Omeasoo

      Marketing Coordinator

      Mariah was born and grew up on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana. She is an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Tribe in Montana and the Ermineskin Cree Nation in Alberta, Canada. She has a Bachelor of Business Administration-Marketing from the University of Montana, where she also graduated a University Scholar from the Davidson Honors College. During her time at the University of Montana, Mariah was involved in Kyiyo Native American Student Association. As a member, she promoted the traditions and customs of Indigenous people and supported cultural diversity on campus. As a student, she interned with Accelerate MT as a Project Support Intern.

      Latisha Buck Elk Thunder_RESIZED

      Latisha Buck Elk Thunder

      Program Director, Indigenous Programs and Outreach

      Latisha, an innovative Diné and Amskapi Piikani leader, is the Program Director of Indigenous Outreach and Programs for Accelerate Montana. Her focus revolves around strengthening relationships, building connections and ensuring that Indigenous voices are amplified. Passionate about sustainable growth and impactful change, she dedicates herself to creating pathways to success and expanding economic opportunities for tribal communities across Montana. In addition to her role, Latisha is also an artist and co-founder, leading various initiatives aimed at cultivating spaces where creativity flourishes, collaboration thrives, and Native communities are empowered to succeed. With a passion for bridging traditional knowledge with contemporary innovation, she is committed to fostering progress and eliminating barriers. Skilled in beadwork and quillwork, she finds joy in creating art, reading, and traveling with her family during her free time.