MEET OUR TEAM

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

      President

      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

      Director

      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.

      JennyHarms_RESIZED

      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. 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.

      NEWSkoog_Rebekah_Resized (1)

      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.”

      MikeBraun_RESIZED

      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.

      RAPID TRAINING PROGRAM

      Jeri Bucy_RESIZED

      Jeri Bucy

      Outreach Coordinator, North Central Montana

      Jeri is a Montana native, born and raised in Townsend. She has lived in the Helena area for more than 20 years. She graduated from the University of Montana with a BS in Business Marketing and Management. She is also pursuing an MS in Public Administration. Jeri spent much of her career in MT State government including the Montana Department of Commerce, Tourism and Business Development. Most recently, Jeri worked for three years doing outreach and organizing around “Getting out the Count” for the 2020 Census in Montana. When she is not working, you can find Jeri out camping, fishing and hiking with her family, friends and dogs.

      Dani Buehler_RESIZED

      Dani Buehler

      Outreach Coordinator, South Central Montana

      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

      Learning and Career Coordinator

      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, Southwest Montana

      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

      Job Site Ready Program Manager

      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.

      GerlindaMorrison_RESIZED

      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.

      RichardsWill_Resized

      Will Richards

      Outreach Coordinator, Northwest Montana

      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.

      CrystalLittleOwl_RESIZED

      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.

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

      Sarah Grissom

      Sara Grissom

      Americorps Vista

      Sarah is an Americorps Vista working with AMRII. Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, she recently graduated from Beloit College with a degree in anthropology. Outside of work, Sarah enjoys spending time with family and friends and being outdoors. She is working with AMRII to expand the accessibility of start-up tools and the business community for rural and indigenous Montanans.

      Shiena Medrano

      Shienna Medrano

      Rural Outreach Ambassador

      Shiena “Shin'' Medrano is a current junior at the University of Montana, majoring in Accounting and Management Information Systems. Shin works as AMRII’s Outreach Ambassador and is our resident graphic designer. From Manila in the Philippines, Shin moved to Phillipsburg, Montana as a junior in high school. In her free time, Shin enjoys painting and playing her violin, piano, and guitar. Her interests in art and entrepreneurship inspired Shin to help rural and indigenous artists gain recognition and pursue their goals.

      Karl--e1472505086550

      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 

      Dylan Cherullo_RESIZED

      Dylan Cherullo

      Program Assistant

      My name is Dylan Cherullo, happy to be joining the BLP team as the new Program Assistant. I have been working in the start-up space since I was 16 when I started interning for a local start-up in Olympia. In coming to the BLP, I will bring my experience in the start-up space and economics perspective to the community, as well as strive to learn as much as I can from the amazing students and entrepreneurs. My goal is to increase our reach on campus and in the community to assemble the best talent Missoula has to offer.

      CarolynCrowder

      Carolyn Crowder

      Marketing Manager

      Manages Blackstone LaunchPad marketing team and oversees all digital marketing and website content for the organization.

      Jacob Treece_RESIZED

      Jacob Treece

      Program Assistant

      Jake is the Program Assistant for the Blackstone LaunchPadat the University of Montana. He has worked for Accelerate Montana for over three years and is currently a Senior at UM majoring in Marketing and Spanish as well as minoring in Psychology and receiving a Digital Marketing Certificate. As Program Assistant, Jake helps manage all day-to-day operations for the LaunchPad including marketing, event planning, customer service, admin, etc. Jake is also currently an intern at Pathlabs in Missoula. In his free time, Jake loves to travel, hike, practice Spanish, go to hot springs, cook, and spend time in Missoula!

      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

      Professor

      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

      Director

      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

      Dean

      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

      JenniferStephens_RESIZED

      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.

      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.

      Cassandra Sunell_RESIZED

      Cassandra Sunell

      Outreach Director

      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 and has now joined the Montana World Trade Center and the Montana Bioscience Cluster Initiative to as an Outreach Director to assist with international trade and investment.

      Women's Entrepreneurship & Leadership Lab (W.E.L.L.)

      KassiStrong

      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.

      MargueriteThordarson

      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.

      AnyaSmith_RESIZED

      Anya Smith

      Contracted with Rocky Mountain WBC

      She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Montana in 2022 with a BA in Anthropology and a minor in Global Public Health. Anya 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. She is also interested in filmmaking, dance, and writing.

      Laura Clague_RESIZED

      Laura Clague

      Rocky Mountain WBC, Program Support Assistant

      Originally from The Richest Hill on Earth (Butte, MT), Laura is a junior studying at UM and the Davidson Honors College looking to finish her bachelor’s degree in Marketing. Before her transfer to UM, she studied at Highlands College in Butte and received her Associates Degree. She now serves as a student employee and Program Assistant for the Women’s Business Center (WBC). Laura loves fashion, photography, cooking, and music. If you ever need a new song recommendation, she likely has one in mind. She is passionate about increasing opportunities for women in business and hopes to one day start her own business.