Monthly Archives: April 2019

The 2019 Yellowstone Conference: Communities in Crisis

The 2019 Yellowstone Conference: Communities in Crisis is focused one identifying and deciphering current crises that Montana communities are facing with professional panel discussions on:

  • Rural Montana
  • Montana Cities
  • Indigenous Communities
  • Collaborating for Community Outcomes

Montana communities face an array of challenges including domestic violence, homelessness, drug use, sex trafficking, incarcerated parents, limited education, access to metal health providers, and a flood of children entering the foster care system.  These challenges directly contribute to the generational cycle of abuse, and the trauma that families endure, and in turn create communities in crisis.  Panelists for Rural Montana, Montana Cities, Indigenous Communities, and Collaborating for Community Outcomes will address these issues, provide education, feedback, and resources for Montana families and community members. 

Date: Thursday September 19th, 2019
Time: 9am-5pm
Place: The Franklin Robbie Chapel, located on YBGR’s main campus at 1732 South 72nd Street West, Billings, MT 59106
Cost of attendance: $25.00, includes lunch and refreshments
CEUs and OPI credits are available upon request

Click to Register

Keynote Speaker:

Greg Upham, Billings Public Schools Superintendent. Greg has been a professional educator for over thirty years. His career began as a teacher and coach in Browning and Belt, Montana.  He joined the Helena School District in 1992. He began his administrative career as an Assistant Principal at Capital High School, followed by six years as the Principal of Helena High School.  He recently served as the Assistant Superintendent of Helena Public Schools until July 2018, and is now serving as the Superintendent of Billings Public Schools.

Mr. Upham earned his undergraduate degree in Industrial Technology from the University of Montana Western, Dillon.  He received his Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Montana, Missoula.

He is the past chair of the Montana ACT Council and also served as its past president.  He has presented both statewide and nationally on the process of data-based decision-making, the importance of ACT course patterning, and the effectiveness of Professional Learning Communities.  Greg plays an active role in the community. He has served on the Lewis and Clark Foster Care Review Board and the Wakina Learning Center Board. Greg is a member of Rotary, is on the Yellowstone Boys and Girls Club Board, has conducted Ruby Paine poverty trainings, and serves as a sports broadcaster.  He is a passionate and visible figure throughout the community.


Rural Montana Panel Discussion: There are 9 states in the US that have formed rural development committees, Montana is not one of them. Montana rural communities share common challenges of other state rural communities in regard to healthcare, economic development, infrastructure, and educational resources. The Yellowstone Conference: Communities in Crisis Rural Montana panel will address rural Montana’s particular challenges in meeting the mental health needs of at risk children.

Confirmed Panelists:

Sydney Blair, CEO of the Great Falls Mental Health Center

Alan Ostby, Psy.D. Indian Health Services in Wolf Point

Carl Rosston, MA, Suicide Prevention Coordinator DPHHS

Michael Faust, ED, Western MT Health Center


Montana Cities Panel Discussion: Montana cities face an array of challenges including domestic violence, homelessness, drug use, sex trafficking, incarcerated parents, limited education, and a flood of children entering the foster care system.  These challenges directly contribute to the generational cycle of abuse, and the trauma that families endure, and in turn create communities in crisis.  The panelists for this topic will address these issues, provide education, feedback, and resources for Montana families.

Moderator: Elizabeth Compoy, Supervisor for the IPS Supported Employment Program at YBGR.  Elizabeth is passionate about the work she does with youth to teach them how to obtain and maintain employment, how to use soft skills, and to self-advocate.  She promotes the importance of being independent, self-sufficient, and healthy in order for youth to break the cycle of poverty and abuse.  She strongly believes in YBGR’s mission of Caring People, Preparing Youth for Life. 

Panelists:

Stacy Zinn, Regional Agent in Charge (RAC) for the Drug Enforcement Agency. Stacy joined the DEA in 2001. She served in duty stations as a Special Agent include: El Paso, Texas, Afghanistan, and Peru. In 2014, RAC Zinn was promoted to Group Supervisor for the TDS located in Billings. In late 2018, she was promoted to the RAC position which covers the entire state of Montana. RAC Zinn holds a Master’s Degree and previously was a body guard within the private sector.

Holly Mook is the Coordinated School Health Unit Director with the MT Office of Public Instruction. Holly has dedicated most of her career to working with youth and their families. She facilitated an Adolescent Intensive Outpatient Substance Use Treatment program for a community provider in Helena, worked as a Project Success Counselor for the Helena School District, and as a Medicaid Waiver Program Manager. In August of 2016, Holly transitioned to her current role with the Montana Office of Public Instruction as the State Coordinator for MT SOARS, a systems-change, collaborative, and community-based effort in partnership with the Browning, Butte, and Kalispell school districts. The initiative was made possible by the five-year Project AWARE funding through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). In September of 2018, Holly additionally became the Title IV A SSAE Program Managers and helps schools to run programs under the following three categories; Safe and Healthy Students, Well-Rounded Education, and Effective Use of Technology. Under the State of MT’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan, Holly is focusing on legislatively mandated priorities for MT schools, including bullying prevention, suicide prevention, school emergency planning, and sex trafficking prevention.

Holly Mook is the Coordinated School Health Unit Director with the MT Office of Public Instruction. Holly has dedicated most of her career to working with youth and their families. She facilitated an Adolescent Intensive Outpatient Substance Use Treatment program for a community provider in Helena, worked as a Project Success Counselor for the Helena School District, and as a Medicaid Waiver Program Manager.

Ben McKee is the Development Director for CASA of Yellowstone County. After relocating from the Philadelphia area he worked at Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch from 2013 to 2016, first as a Mental Health Worker and subsequently a Program Manager. Ben has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Pennsylvania State University where he also worked in mental health research.

Penny Ronning. Penny’s commitment to human rights, the arts, social justice, and protecting wildlife habitat is reflected in more than 30 years of professional and volunteer service. She is co-founder/co-chair of the Yellowstone County Area Human Trafficking Task Force and, in 2017, Penny was elected to a 4-year term on Billings City Council. Penny is a filmmaker and photographer; earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Film, a Master’s Degree in Business Administration, and enjoyed law school.


Indigenous Communities Discussion Panel: The state of Montana is home to seven reservations which encompass twelve tribes. A common theme among tribes are the many ways in which these populations suffer. Currently, there is an astonishing number of missing and murdered indigenous women which is correlated to a chronic alcohol and substance abuse problem as well as domestic violence. These problems start at a very young age for most with a lack of adequate housing, access to clean water, educational opportunities, and inequality in schools with non-indigenous students. Over time, these situations lead to severe mental illness and eventually an extremely high suicide rate among all age groups.

Confirmed Panelists:

Jennifer Smith, Executive Director of Indian Education for Billings Public Schools

Kathleen Little Leaf, MSW, LAC, the Behavioral Health Coordinator at Billings Urban Indian Health and Wellness Center and is an enrolled tribal member from the Blackfoot/Blackfeet tribes. Kathleen has worked within Indian Health Services providing Mental Health and Addiction Treatment, Prevention, and Recovery with cultural interventions for over a decade. Her work history includes Domestic Violence advocacy through the YWCA. She is a Mental Health therapist and providing Co-occurring therapy and case management. Kathleen has experience working within Jail Diversion and implemented Jail Diversion Cultural Recovery Programming to Native American inmates and research in Missoula County.

Jami Pluff, Policy Analyst/Council Support for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.


Collaborating For Community Outcomes Panel  Discussion: The panel on Collaborating for Community Outcomes will focus on government and provider relations and how they impact youth and families.

Confirmed Panelists:

Mary Windecker, Behavioral Health Alliance of Montana

A representative from the Center for Children and Families