All posts by Anya Mohr

2022 Yellowstone Conference: Mind, Body, and Spirit a Holistic Approach

Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch is excited to be hosting our sixth annual Yellowstone Conference: Mind, Body, Spirit, and the Holistic Approach being held on our main campus in Billings, MT on Thursday November 3rd. This year’s conference is focused on mind, body, and spirit treatment approaches for Montana youth and families with professional panel discussions on:

  • Mind ~Moderator: Juletta Gilge, Director of PRTF. This panel discussion will focus on the crucial role the mind plays in our overall health and wellness, the approaches we take to address and take care of the mind and looking at practical application across a variety of disciplines.
  • Body ~Moderator: Lori Hanson, Recreation Therapist. During this panel we will discuss the importance of taking care of your body. In order for our bodies to function at an optimal level we will focus on movement and exercise, as well as, nutrition and sleep. Each of these components play a vital role in our ability to create a healthy body which in turn builds a stronger unity with the mind and spirit.
  • Spirit ~Moderator: John Boeder, Director of Pastoral CareSpirituality and Religion can have great impacts on the mental health of individuals through a variety of means. Spirituality can bolster introspection, mindfulness, purpose, and individual growth. Religion can foster community, provide structure and ritual, and offer instruction and teaching to promote growth. Spirituality and Religion often work hand in hand to support mental health and encourage recovery from traumas. They can bring hope and a deeper sense of purpose to individuals in times of stress.
  • Collaborating for Outcomes ~ Moderator: Mike Chavers, CEO of YBGR. The Collaborating for Outcomes will focus on how the systems and principles impact youth and families mind, body, and spirit.

Conference Agenda:

Check-in starts 9:00am-9:30am
 Welcome 9:30am-9:45am
Mind Panel 9:45am-11:00am
Break 11:00am-11:15am
Body Panel 11:15am-12:30pm
Lunch 12:30pm-1:30pm
Spirit Panel 1:15pm-2:30pm
Break 2:45pm-3:00pm
Collaborating for Outcomes Panel 3:00pm-4:15pm
Keynote Speaker 4:15pm-5:00pm

Registration is open now and the cost of the conference is $25.00 and includes lunch or $50.00 for a virtually ticket. 5.75 CEUs and OPI credits are available upon request. Register  at

Operation Christmas Caring 2020

Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch is going into its fourth year of Operation Christmas Caring. The premise is simple. Families in need send us wish lists for their children. YBGR staff and volunteers sort requests, purchase gifts and wrap them. Local law enforcement then delivers these gifts to families the week of Christmas.

In this season of giving, and with the extraordinary uncertainty this year has brought us, we are anticipating that families in Park County will need our help now more than ever. We are working together with the Park County community to meet this need. This year, Livingston Food Resource Center and YBGR are partnering to recruit volunteers, get the word out, funnel family requests, and complete shopping and wrapping for our Park County families, while the local police department is committing to the delivery to families. YBGR has committed to a fundraising goal of $25,000 to help 300 Park County kids. We need help to make it all happen!

We hope that you will help us reach our fundraising goal this year. Please donate today.

Donate online at (select “Livingston MT Operation Christmas Caring” before submitting)

Or mail/drop off a check to our Livingston Office at 5237 Hwy 89 S, Suite 1, Livingston, MT 59047 (checks should be written to YBGR, with Operation Christmas Caring in the memo).

Are you interested in volunteering with Operation Christmas Caring this year?

Visit to join our volunteer list.

Do you or someone you know in Park County need help with Christmas presents this year?

Visit to request gifts for your child.

2020 Yellowstone Conference: New Dimensions of Care

Maintaining safety and health of Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch youth, staff, and guests is our top priority. Due to the uncertain circumstances of these times, YBGR has decided to make the 2020 Yellowstone Conference: New Dimensions of Care, a FREE virtual conference experience.


The format of the conference will now be offered in free weekly one-hour Zoom panel discussions starting on September 17th from 12:00pm-1:00pm MST (see schedule below). Each panel will still consist of a moderator, professional panelists, and audience participation discussing the important youth and family issues.  CEUs and OPI credits will still be offered for each of the panel discussions (free of charge), 1 CEU or OPI credit per panel discussion.

  • Thursday September 17th from 12:00pm-1:00pm MST-Collaborating for Outcomes: Family 1st Act   
  • Thursday September 24th from 12:00pm-1:00pm MST- The Role of Adolescent Faith & Spirituality 
  • Thursday October 1st from 12:00pm-1:00pm MST- Looking Beyond Behavior 
  • Thursday October 8th from 12:00pm-1:00m MST-Youth Voice: Evolution of Care
Each panel discussion registration is setup as an individual Zoom session, so you will need to register for each of them separately. You can sign up for as many as you like and we encourage everyone to come to all four!


Collaborating for Outcomes: Family 1st Act

The Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018 has been touted as an opportunity to “change foster care as we know it”. The Act has several provisions to enhance support services for families to help children remain at home, reduce the unnecessary use of congregate care, and build the capacity of communities to support children and families.

To achieve the promise of Family First, Montana will need to adapt. State agencies will need to adjust and change systems. Private providers, particularly group home providers, will need to alter services and business models to better meet the needs of children and caregivers. Judges, attorneys and other legal partners will be relied upon to make informed decisions about what children and youth need to succeed. Members of the community need to be informed of best practices and engaged in active solutions. In short, successful implementation requires an all-hands-on-deck approach.

Moderated by Michael Chavers, YBGR CEO

Panelists: Jeff Folsom, Dennis Sulser, & Nikki Grossberg 

The Role of Adolescent Faith and Spirituality

Spirituality helps people cope with everyday stresses by giving them hope and meaning in life through the values they live out on a daily basis. Looking at the core issues of independence, intimacy and identity is critical in the role of healthy spiritual development. Through questioning what beliefs adolescents will personally own, will help us to understand what values emerge through the formation of healthy spirituality.

Moderated by John Dailey, YBGR Spiritual Director

Panelists to be announced

Looking Beyond Behavior

All behavior is a form of communication. Looking beyond behavior for meaning is an important tool not just for mental-health providers but for communities. Unmet needs continue to echo in problematic behaviors and once you can determine the meaning you can create positive change through support. These concepts are universal in relationships and can be deployed by anyone. In this panel, we will explore the importance of developing communities attuned to the meaning of behavior so that we can all be part of positive change.

Moderated by Tyson Schumacher, YBGR CIO

Panelists to be announced

Youth Voice: Evolution of Care

A panel of former youth who were recipients of mental health services in and out of the state of Montana. We will explore their firsthand experiences in mental health to gather valuable information on past and existing systems of care that affect the lives of children.

Moderated by Rishay Watson, YBGR Executive Director of Business Development and Marketing

Panelists to be announced

Empowered to Connect Free Online Conference





Montana’s Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch will be offering free access to Karyn Purvis’ world renowned, Empowered to Connect simulcast.

Empowered to Connect (ETC) is an attachment rich community focused program that exists to support, resource, and educate caregivers. ETC’s resources and trainings are especially helpful for caregivers of children who have experienced adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), toxic stress, and maltreatment. ETC relies heavily on the model of Trust Based Relational Intervention (TBRI®) created by Dr. Karyn Purvis and Dr. David Cross at the TCU Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development.

Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch staff will be on-hand to facilitate discussions throughout the presentations in order to dig deep into how these parenting techniques can be implemented in our daily lives.  


  Mondays Tuesdays  
Class 1 27-Apr-20 28-Apr-20  
Class 2 4-May-20 5-May-20  
Class 3 11-May-20 12-May-20  
Class 4 18-May-20 19-May-20  
*All viewings begin at 3pm and end by 7:30pm

Click HERE to register for this free event 

3-Day EMDR Intensive Training: Neuroscience, Diagnosis and State of the Art Practices to Treat Complex Trauma 1/8/2020-1/10/2020






Join trauma specialist, author and national trainer, Megan Howard, LCSW, CCTP, for this intensive 3-day EMDR training that will provide you the knowledge and skills needed to use EMDR safely and effectively. Through lecture, live and videotaped EMDR demonstrations, and supervised experiential exercises, this training will provide you with an in-depth knowledge of trauma theory, principles, diagnosis and EMDR treatment.

The stage model remains today’s state-of-the-art treatment approach for all but single-incident trauma. During this training, you will learn the goals of each stage, along with the therapeutic tools to reach those goals.

You must be present for all 3 days of EMDR training to receive the hours of training certificate. CEUs will be emailed by PESI after paperwork has been processed.

Cost is $700.00 per ticket 

Purchase Tickets


Wednesday January 8th, 2020

  • Registration 7:30am-8:00am
  • Training 8:00am-11:50am
  • Lunch 11:50am-1:00pm (Lunch on your own)
  • Training 1:00pm-4:00pm 

Thursday January 9th, 2020

  • Training 8:00am-11:50am
  • Lunch 11:50am-1:00pm (Lunch on your own)
  • Training 1:00pm-4:00pm 

Friday January 10th, 2020

  • Training 8:00am-11:50am
  • Lunch 11:50am-1:00pm (Lunch on your own)
  • Training 1:00pm-4:00pm 

Program Outline:

Neuroscience of Trauma, Effective Assessment and DSM-5® Diagnostic Criteria

Neuroscience’s Current Trauma Paradigm

Biological nature of trauma

  • Triune Brain, The Autonomic Nervous System and the Stress Response
  • The Polyvagal Theory
  • Traumatic Stress: normal, prolonged, complex and developmental

Specific trauma symptoms

Primary treatment issues in trauma therapy

Trauma’s Somatic and Sensorimotor Sequelae

  • Hyperarousal
  • Hypoarousal
  • Dissociation, body memories and “flashbacks” Affect dysregulation

Trauma and Attachment

The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE Study)

Attachment Essentials

  • Baby/momma trauma
  • Insecure Attachment Styles Assessment and Primary Treatment Issues of:
  • Avoidant
  • Preoccupied
  • Disorganized type

Assessment and Diagnosis of Trauma Disorders

Current Trauma Diagnoses:

  • Acute Trauma Disorder
  • PTSD and subtypes
  • Dissociative
  • Preschool
  • Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

Proposed Trauma Diagnoses

  • Developmental Trauma Disorder (DTD)
  • Complex PTSD

Trauma Treatment: Effective Tools, Treatment Modalities, and an Introduction EMDR

The Stage Model of Treatment

  • Assessment, Rapport, Psychoeducation
  • Developing the “Skills to Stay Stable”
  • Trauma Tools for Affect Regulation
  • Recognizing and regulating affect
  • Dissociative episodes and “flashbacks”
  • Grounding clients in their bodies and back in the present in the here and now
  • Mindfulness/bodyfulness (including somatic exercises)
  • Multisensory Guided Imagery
  • EFT (meridian tapping)
  • Reduction of physiological arousal
  • Recognizing and up & down regulating arousal levels
  • Containment and self-soothing
  • Stage One: Stabilization and Safety

Stage Two: Working Through Traumatic Memories

  • Brief overview of the theory and applicability of three trauma processing modalities:
  • Sensorimotor Psychotherapy (SP)
  • Somatic Experiencing (SE)
  • EMDR

Practice EMDR for both Resourcing and Trauma Processing

Live EMDR demonstration followed by experiential sessions

Under Supervision, Learn and Safely Practice the Skills of EMDR for Both Phase One and Two

Phase One Work: Imaginal Resourcing

  • Containment Imagery
  • Comfortable Place Imagery
  • Protection Imagery and/or Nurture Imagery

Phase Two Work: Reprocessing Traumatic Memories

Limitations of Research and Potential Risk

  • Contraindications and precautions for reprocessing trauma
  • Differences in theory and in the associated neurophysiological models are a matter of ongoing discussion


1. Evaluate the biological nature of trauma and how trauma is stored in the body and limbic system, creating physical and psychological symptoms to better understand your clients.

2. Differentiate between sympathetic (activated) freeze response and the parasympathetic (deactivated) dorsal vagal immobilization response your clients experience.

3. Distinguish between the following types of traumatic stress: normal, prolonged, complex and developmental and articulate treatment considerations for each.

4. Ascertain the clinical implications of traumatic stress symptomology, including hyperarousal, affect dysregulation, dissociation, body memories, and flashbacks.

5. Employ effective somatic techniques to reduce/eliminate client’s body memories, “flashbacks” and dissociation.

6. Summarize the landmark study: Adverse Childhood Experiences Study and understand the ten adverse childhood experiences studied as they related to clinical diagnosis and assessment.

7. Evaluate the clinical presentation of the following attachment styles as it relates to your clinical assessment: secure vs insecure; insecure; organized vs insecure disorganized.

8. Designate two different treatment strategies, once attachment style has been ascertained, based on your clients’ attachment style.

9. Demonstrate strategies to help clients build skills to be prepared to process trauma via EMDR, including safety within the therapeutic alliance and skills for self-regulation.

10. Determine when/if your client is prepared to safely process trauma memories via EMDR.

11. Create and employ client-driven imagery for safety and containment during trauma processing.

12. Utilize clinical techniques to help with grounding and centering traumatized clients in-session.

13. Prepare clients with various trauma tools; mindfulness, guided imagery and meridian-based techniques to decrease client’s arousal levels and modulate affect.

14. Analyze and critique the original eight phases of EMDR’s standard protocol (Shapiro) as it relates to clinical treatment.

15. Determine Parnell’s four essential elements of each EMDR session and how it relates to client treatment.

16. Practice under supervision Parnell’s Modified EMDR protocol to prepare for work with your clients in-session.

17. Practice under supervision the skill for resourcing a client with imaginal resources prior to processing traumatic material.

18. Practice under supervision the trauma processing modality and EDMR tools for processing traumatic memories with your clients.

19. Utilize and practice two “cues for safety” with your clients based on Steve Porges’ Polyvagal Theory.

Continuing Education Credits – all 3 days

Addiction Counselors: This course has been approved by PESI, Inc., as a NAADAC Approved Education Provider, for 19.0 CE in the Counseling Services skill group. NAADAC Provider #77553. PESI, Inc. is responsible for all aspects of their programming. Full attendance is required; no partial credit will be awarded for partial attendance.

Counselors: This intermediate activity consists of 19.0 clock hours of continuing education instruction. Credit requirements and approvals vary per state board regulations. Please save the course outline, the certificate of completion you receive from the activity and contact your state board or organization to determine specific filing requirements.

Montana Counselors: The Montana Board of Behavioral Health no longer pre-approves any courses or sponsors. Each licensee is responsible for taking courses which contribute to their competence and directly relate to their scope of practice as defined in board statute (MAR 24-219-32). Licensees must keep CE documentation for three years in case of an audit. This intermediate level activity consists of 19.0 clock hours of instruction.

Marriage & Family Therapists: This activity consists of 1140 minutes of continuing education instruction. Credit requirements and approvals vary per state board regulations. You should save this course outline, the certificate of completion you receive from the activity and contact your state board or organization to determine specific filing requirements.

Montana Marriage & Family Therapists: The Montana Board of Behavioral Health no longer pre-approves any courses or sponsors. Each licensee is responsible for taking courses which contribute to their competence and directly relate to their scope of practice as defined in board statute

(MAR 24-219-32). Licensees must keep CE documentation for three years in case of an audit. This intermediate level activity consists of 19.0 clock hours of instruction.

EMDRIA: This training is not affiliated with EMDRIA and does not qualify towards EMDRIA credits or training.

Nurses, Nurse Practitioners, and Clinical Nurse Specialists: PESI, Inc. is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation.

  • Nurses in full attendance will earn 19.0 contact hours. Partial contact hours will be awarded for partial attendance.

Psychologists: This live activity consists of 19.0 clock hours of continuing education instruction. Credit requirements and approvals vary per state board regulations. Please save the course outline and the certificate of completion you receive from this live activity. Contact us for more information on your state board or organization specific filing requirements. American Psychological Association credits are not available.

Montana Psychologists: This live activity is designed to meet the criteria requirements of the Montana Board of Psychologists and is a PESI-approved continuing education and qualifies for 1140 instructional minutes. Please save the certificate of completion you receive from this live activity.

Social Workers: PESI, Inc., #1062, is approved to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Organizations, not individual courses, are approved as ACE providers. State and provincial regulatory boards have the final authority to determine whether an individual course may be accepted for continuing education credit. PESI, Inc. maintains responsibility for this course. ACE provider approval period: January 27, 2017 – January 27, 2020. Social Workers completing this course receive 19.0 Clinical Practice continuing education credits. Course Level: Intermediate. Full attendance is required; no partial credits will be offered for partial attendance. A certificate of attendance will be awarded at the end of the program to social workers who complete the program evaluation.

Montana Social Workers: The Montana Board of Behavioral Health no longer pre-approves any courses or sponsors. Each licensee is responsible for taking courses which contribute to their competence and directly relate to their scope of practice as defined in board statute (MAR 24-219-32). Licensees must keep CE documentation for three years in case of an audit. This intermediate level activity consists of 19.0 clock hours of instruction.

Other Professions: This activity qualifies for 1140 minutes of instructional content as required by many national, state and local licensing boards and professional organizations. Save your course outline and certificate of completion, and contact your own board or organization for specific requirements.

Speaker Megan Howard, LCSW, CCTP was trained on the use of EMDR as a treatment protocol through EMDRIA and uses EMDR in her practice to achieve improved outcomes with a broad spectrum of clients in the areas of trauma, abuse, and substance abuse.

She is certified as a Clinical Trauma Professional through the International Association of Trauma Professionals and currently owns and operates one of the largest treatment centers for substance abuse and trauma in the state of Idaho.

She has been invited to train internationally at the International Society of Addiction Medicine in India and at the International Conference on Addiction Research and Therapy in Amsterdam.

Ms. Howard earned her Masters in Clinical Social Work from Northwest Nazarene University and is a member of EMDRIA and the International Society of Addiction Medicine..

Speaker Disclosures:

Financial: Megan Howard is the owner of Addiction and Trauma Recovery Services. She receives a speaking honorarium from PESI, Inc.

Non-financial: Megan Howard has no relevant non-financial relationship to disclose.

YBGR Economic Impact Report

Recently, YBGR, through a generous grant from NorthWestern Energy, YBGR partnered with Circle Analytics to complete an Economic Impact Report. Through this partnership, we did a “deep-dive” into the benefits of YBGR: what we not only do for kids and families, but also how much of a difference we make economically to our stakeholders (you). 

Circle Analytics  prepared hundreds of these reports for state agencies, cities, counties, economic development districts, as well as private and nonprofit entities across the country.   Social impacts recognize the greater extended value of the program to society – dollars expended vs. dollars saved.

Circle Analytics found that for every dollar spent at YBGR, there is a return of $13.90 through long-term savings to society, jobs, capital investment and indirect business taxes.  

Full Report

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, LCSW, MHP,  is the Chief Operating Officer for the Center for Mental Health, a regional community mental health center for children and adults ranging from age 2 to end of life.  Sydney has served in the role of CEO for the last eight years.  Her career began in human services in 1983 after receiving a bachelor in science from Montana State University in Sociology and Criminology.  Since that time, Sydney’s has worked in a variety of settings and positions to include the Veterans Administration, In-patient addictions, Department of Corrections, schools, and the Clinical Director for the Center.  Sydney received her master’s from Colorado State University in 1990, and was licensed as a Clinical Social Worker in 1994.

Sydney presently serves on several boards; Behavioral Health of Montana (BHAM), Behavioral Health Advisory Council (BHAC), Crisis Intervention Training of Montana (CIT-MT) and served on the Governor’s Council for Healthcare Innovation and Reform.  Sydney also serves on numerous steering committees to include the Integrated Behavioral Health Steering committee, the Cascade County Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) committee and is an active member of Rotary International.  

Karl Rosston, MA, is the Suicide Prevention Coordinator for the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.  He provides evidenced-based programs to all Montana secondary schools, implements the State Suicide Prevention Plan, supports the Montana Suicide Prevention Lifeline, implements firearm safety programs and statewide media campaigns, provides suicide prevention trainings, and coordinates suicide prevention efforts around the state. Karl is adjunct faculty at the Montana Law Enforcement Academy and a nationally certified trainer in QPR and Mental Health First Aid.

Previously, Karl was the Director of Social Services at Shodair Children’s Hospital in Helena.  Before returning to Montana, he was on the faculty of the University of Colorado, School of Medicine, and a clinical consultant with the Colorado Division of Youth Corrections.

He is a licensed clinical social worker who maintains a small private practice in Helena.  He received his Master’s in Social Work from the University of Denver and his Bachelor’s in Psychology from the University of Montana.

Gary Adams, Director of Farm and Ranch Operations for Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch.

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 Campoy, 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. 


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:

Reno Charette. Ms. Charette currently serves the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) as the Project Director for the Aseto’ne Networking Project (ANP).  AIHEC serves 37 tribal college/universities encompassing 20,000 students.  The Aseto’ne Networking Project is funded by NIH and seeks to inspire tribal college students to pursue a biomedical career in research.

Ms. Charette holds a Master of Arts degree in History with a specialty in the American West supported by a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Native American Studies.  Ms. Charette is a member of the Ties In the Bundle clan of the Crow Nation and a descendent of the Turtle Mountain Chippewa.  She was raised on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation.

Ms. Charette has eleven years of experience in teaching Native American Studies and serving as the Native American Achievement Center Director at MSUB.  Former positions she has held include the Coordinator of Indian Affairs Governor for Brian Schweitzer’s administration, Project Director for the Big Horn Teacher Projects at MSUB, Program Assistant for the Circles of Care project at In-Care Network, Project Coordinator for the Health Careers Opportunity Program in the School of Pharmacy at the University of Montana as well as an academic advisor for the Educational Opportunity Program at UM.

Ms. Charette has served on many boards in the Billings community, but currently serves on the Native American Coalition, the Billings Urban Indian Health and Wellness board, and volunteers for the Billings Urban Indian Crafters that teach powwow dancing and making powwow regalia. 

Above all, her most important contribution to the world is that she is a mother of six children and grandmother of eleven.

Jennifer Smith, Executive Director of Indian Education for Billings Public Schools. She is also the SOS Signs of Suicide Program Coordinator and Title III English Language Coordinator for the school district. She is the chair for OPI’s Montana Advisory Council on Indian Education, and a board member for both Rimrock Foundation and CASA of Yellowstone County. Jennifer is a member of the DPHHS Foster Care Review Committee, Youth Court Placement Committee, Yellowstone County School and Student Safety Committee, and Centennial Youth Fund committee. Jennifer has a BS degree in psychology/sociology from Wesleyan University, an MA in Early Childhood Education from MSUB, and K-12 principal and superintendent endorsement through MSU Bozeman. She is an enrolled member of the Eastern Band Cherokee tribe and a descendant of the Turtle Mountain Band Chippewa tribe.

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, has been a Policy Analyst for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) for the past 13 years . Prior to that she served on the Tribal Council for 8 years from 1998 until 2006. In her current position- she gets assigned various tasks. She also gets assigned Special Projects, which is where she began researching and advocating on the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women issue. The CSKT Tribal Council passed a resolution to form a workgroup and create an action plan on the education and awareness of MMIW in our communities.

John Old Elk, Western Native Voice

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:

Sheila Hogan was appointed in December 2016 by Governor Steve Bullock to be the Director of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS). She has been a champion for the thousands of Montanans this agency serves through her work in public service for over 30 years and is thrilled to begin her tenure at DPHHS.

Prior to her recent appointment, she served as the Director of the state’s Department of Administration for four years, with a focus of strategic health care initiatives, customer service, and streamlining government processes to better serve Montana communities.

She led a multi-pronged initiative in the state healthcare plan that saved the state and taxpayers more than $30 million. She led staff in a top-to-bottom review of the state health plan, resulting in the streamlining of services, saving taxpayer money, and increasing government efficiency.

Director Hogan led new efforts to help Montana businesses do business with the state, including: the creation of “Procurement Forecasts” of upcoming bid opportunities for Montana businesses, instituting procurement workshops across the state, serving more than 100 businesses as they learn best practices for submitting successful bids; establishing an online submission program that streamlines the submission process and cuts down on red tape; and creating of a pre-qualified pool of businesses and vendors, which creates greater efficiency in obtaining contracts.

She ensured that veterans and national guardsman had access to Employee Assistance Programs. She instituted training for more than 1,400 individuals through the Confront the Stigma suicide prevention campaign, and made government more accessible to citizens by establishing a free shuttle during the legislative session through a partnership with local government.

Through this work and leadership, Sheila has led innovative change initiatives, motivated teams, cut costs, and empowered employees through strategic thinking, planning, and management. She has directed multi-funded, multi-divisional, multi-disciplinary organizations utilizing performance management techniques and standards and maintaining goal-oriented approaches to effectuate positive change. She specializes in formulating effective, versatile and efficient solutions while maintaining focus and persistence to initiate and implement meaningful change.

Meghan Peel is the Bureau Chief for the Montana Children’s Mental Health Bureau, since May of 2018.  Previously, Meghan was the Program Manager for Montana’s Medicaid Expansion and CHIP Programs within the Department of Public Health and Human Services. In this role, Meghan served as the liaison between the Department and its Third Party Administrator. Additionally, Meghan has managed several 1115 demonstration waivers, including Montana’s Medicaid Expansion demonstration waiver. Before joining Montana Medicaid, Meghan worked as an auditor for Ernst & Young in the Bay Area of California. Meghan received a B.S. in Business and holds a Master’s of Professional Accountancy, both from Montana State University. She lives in Helena, Montana with her husband and two sons.

Jeff Folsom is the President of Folsom Strategies, LLC and the Director of Policy and Special Projects at the Center for Children and Families and Workforce Development at the University of Montana. Jeff’s has leadership experience in all facets of behavioral health delivery systems spanning the past 35 years. Foundational experiences include providing direct care services in a variety of treatment settings, moving from front line into clinical, supervisory and ultimately executive management.  Jeff’s dual qualifications in both law and clinical social work foster leadership in running programs and advocating with the state legislature and governmental agencies.  Jeff is recognized for his solution focused approach to his work and his leadership role in shaping state policies and regulations to reduce systemic barriers to delivering behavioral health care, improving access and promoting the quality of care for Montana’s children and families.

Mary Windecker, is the executive director of Behavioral Health Alliance of Montana, an advocacy group representing addiction, mental health and tribal behavioral health organizations. She has 30 years of experience in strategic planning, business development, advocacy, patient satisfaction, marketing and outreach, primarily in nonprofit health care in Montana.

Mary is very involved in her community. She has volunteered in leadership positions with the YMCA, Rotary, Big Brothers Big Sisters, United Way, Missoula Writing Collaborative and served as the board chair for the Missoula Chamber of Commerce in the 2015-16 fiscal year.