2021 Summit

Stronger Together. This is both a reflection on where we have been and what we have already accomplished, and a look toward the future and the importance of coming together to share and celebrate our community. We do this by:

  • Affirming and celebrating all identities by creating safe and welcoming spaces for listening and learning with respect and gratitude.
  • Promoting advocacy and action by bringing together a wide variety of individuals to share their own lived experiences to learn from one another and prepare and motivate them to inform and affect positive change. 
  • Building community and solidarity by offering networking and educational opportunities that allow people to share their stories and form strong and lasting relationships. 

Agenda by Date and Time
Summit Presentations
Summit Presenters
Leadership Awards
Supporters
Planning and Administration
Zoom Backgrounds
Call For Proposals


Summit Presentations

Unmasking the Truth: How the COVID-19 Pandemic is Impacting the LGBTQ+ Community & Creating Healthcare Inequities -Katherine Soule, Youth, Families and Communities Advisor, University of California; Danielle Pacheco, Student Intern, University of California; Trent Baldwin, Student Intern, University of California & Moon Moua, Designer
COVID-19 is a health pandemic that has impacted people worldwide. However, marginalized populations are at a higher risk for health complications. LGBTQ+ individuals are part of these vulnerable communities. In fact, LGBTQ+ individuals are part of every marginalized and vulnerable group in society which compounds the negative impacts of COVID-19. Currently, there is a gap in medical providers’ knowledge of the specific medical challenges that LGBTQ+ individuals face. Increasing awareness and competency of healthcare providers, medical professionals, and community service organizations is vital during the COVID-19 crisis to support positive health outcomes of LGBTQ+ individuals. The University of California Cooperative Extension created a research-based educational campaign to inform healthcare providers, community-based organizations, policymakers, and the general public about the impacts of COVID-19 on the LGBTQ+ population. With this presentation, we hope to increase participants’ awareness of healthcare equity and to increase their ability to support improved quality of healthcare services for LGBTQ+ individuals. These efforts can increase the likelihood that LGBTQ+ individuals receive care that is affirming and competent during this COVID-19 health crisis.

LGBTQ+ Issues: Updates from the 2021 Montana Legislative Session -Shawn Reagor, Director of Equality and Economic Justice, Montana Human Rights Network
Join Shawn for an update on all the legislation of interest to the LGBTQ+ community currently being considered by the 2021 Montana Legisilature.

Queering STEM: Envisioning Socially Just Science and Engineering through Inclusion, Solidarity, and Ethics -Bryce E. Hughes, Assistant Professor, Montana State University
STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields touch every aspect of our lives, especially in Montana with an economy based on agriculture, natural resource development, outdoor tourism, and even microbrewing. Queer and trans people have thus long been involved with STEM fields and will continue to be into the future. Research shows, however, that queer and trans communities continue to be underserved by, and face barriers to participation in, STEM fields. How can we transform STEM fields toward becoming more queer and trans inclusive? In this presentation, participants will learn what we know about LGBTQ participation in STEM fields both in academia and in industry, as well as why LGBTQ inclusion in STEM is important. The presentation will then connect the need for LGBTQ inclusion in STEM to other goals around broadening the participation of other communities underrepresented in and underserved by STEM. Finally, participants will help envision a socially just STEM ecosystem through solidarity among minoritized groups in STEM and attention to important ethical issues facing STEM.

Navigating the Allyship through the Genderverse -Paxton McCausland, TransVisible Montana and Montana Gender Alliance & Mija, TransVisible Montana
This presentation is created and facilitated by TransVisible Montana with the intention to create a brave space for folks to acquire education about the challenges that misinformation and cisnormative systems create for transgender, non-binary, and two-spirit Montanans, and what support is helpful in overcoming these challenges. Outcomes include a broadened awareness & practice of contemporary, inclusive language; applicable skills & ideas for home, school & public environments; and permission for personal liberation from the gender binary!

“We Don’t Have Enough of a Shared Reality to Have an Emotional Connection:” The Impact of Religious Non-Affirmation on Family Relationships for LGBTQ Adults -Sloan Okrey Anderson, Doctoral Candidate, University of Minnesota Department of Family Science & Jenifer K. McGuire MHP, PhD, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist, University of Minnesota
Research has demonstrated that exposure to faith-based anti-LGBTQ messaging is associated with negative mental health outcomes for LGBTQ people including internalized homophobia, psychological distress, increased risk of suicidal ideation, and attempted suicide. These effects extend across the lifespan; LGBTQ adults raised in non-affirming Christian families continue to experience depression and reduced parent-child relationship quality into late adulthood. Much of the research on the experiences of LGBTQ people raised in non-affirming Christian families suggests that family relationships can
improve without any meaningful changes to the religious beliefs of the family. However, most of that research fails to explore the long-term changes in family relationships in the years before and after identity disclosure. This session presents the
findings from a 2021 study of LGBTQ adults who were raised in non-affirming Christian families in the United States. The study included surveys, interviews, and family genograms with 34 LGBTQ adults and their siblings. The sample includes cis and trans people from all across the spectrum of gender and sexuality, and includes Black/African American families, white families, and Black/African families from all across the United States.

Building Resilience for LGBTQ+ Youth -Jessica Sprain, 4-H Youth Development Agent, UF/IFAS Extension Osceola County & Joan Sprain, Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin Extension
Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are potentially traumatic events that can have negative, effects on health and well-being. These experiences range from physical, emotional, or sexual abuse to household dysfunction and, the most common ACE nationally, economic hardship. ACEs are linked to chronic health problems, mental illness, and substance misuse, which all can lead to early death. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals have experienced more ACEs on average than their heterosexual counterparts. Transgender individuals when compared to their cisgender counterparts are at an even higher risk. However, there is a way to counteract the impact of ACEs through the presence of protective factors. Protective factors include safe, stable and nurturing relationships with adults, parent resilience, social and emotional health, identifying and cultivating a sense of purpose and social connections. Join us to learn more about the impact of ACEs and how we can help combat this public health crisis by helping to build resilience through protective factors for LGBTQ+ youth and adults.

Young Activists Working Toward School and 4-H InclusivityNatalie Shepp, 4-H Program Coordinator, Sr., University of Arizona Cooperative Extension; Natasha Vaughan, 4-H member and high school student; Fiona van Haren, former 4-H member and college student; Benjamin Steller, 4-H member and high school student & Sadie Parent, 4-H member and high school student.
The 4-H Healthy Living Ambassador program in Pima County, Arizona successfully implemented a 4-H Project based on Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) principles called the 4-H Youth Action Project. The activities were structured in a way that allowed the young people to choose a health topic of interest to them, followed by implementing research methods to collect data on the topic, and formulating a plan of action around that topic that is designed to improve their own lives and communities. Through this process, the 4-Hers collectively decided to address mental health resources in schools, particularly as they relate to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) youth. The young people were able to utilize the YPAR strategies to successfully advocate for improvements in mental health resources and LGBTQ inclusivity practices in the Tucson Unified School District. The 4-Hers are currently working toward creating more inclusivity practices in 4-H programs by creating a training for staff and volunteers.

Making Space for LGBTQ TeensSiena Popiel, Student/President, Sexuality and Gender Alliance, Bozeman High School & Sarah Jones-Popiel
We have a vision for a gathering place for LGBTQ teens in the Gallatin Valley. The goal is to provide to safe space where teens can gather after school for snacks, conversation, games, and resources. We would like to have a student advisory council with members from both high schools to plan activities and goals. The setting would be informal, but perhaps could incorporate opportunities for counseling and, eventually, provide other services in the community, including educator trainings and parent support groups. Join us as we present our ideas and give us advice on setting up a nonprofit, fundraising, networking, grant ideas, and potential board members/volunteers.

Montana BIPOC LGBT Solidarity, Community, Awareness -Ivan McDonald, Community Engagement Lead, The Montana Racial Equity Project & Jerico Cummings, AmeriCorps VISTA, The Montana Racial Equity Project
Both Ivan and Jerico are queer, indigenous people whose lived experiences intersect with other identities they claim. In this presentation, they will discuss the importance of solidarity within the LGBT+ community as BIPOC and how to create equality in gender-diverse movements through activism, awareness, education, and community building.

Flying by the Seat of My Pants: How I Survived 70s Disco, 80s Fashion, 90s Christian Right, and HIV/AIDS (or Learning to be Happy with Myself: A Primer for a Gay Life) -Tim Williams
Grab breakfast and sit down with Tim as he recounts his life from a very small town in Texas to Montana to New York City to where he is today at 60. Tim will talk candidly about his life and journey including: a)what it was like growing up in the 60s where and what were gay role models, if they existed at all, and how the decade shaped the beginning of the Stonewall contemporary gay movement; b) how life was lived before modern social media; c) the socio-political changes happening that revealed gay life in the 70s; d) the growing acceptance of gay men and women in the 80s, how AIDS endangered that acceptance, and the rise of the conservative Christian Right movement as a parallel oppressive force; e) what it meant to become HIV+, how lives were changed, and how AIDS changed the political and social trajectory in the 90s; and g)how being a long-term survivor has affected Tim’s life and what same-sex marriage and the major changes since 2000 have meant.

Interrupting Microaggressions Through Bystander Intervention Training -Bryce E. Hughes, Assistant Professor, Montana State University & Amber King, Associate Dean of Students, Montana State University
Interrupting microaggressions as a bystander is challenging because they can be difficult to recognize, and a response may not be immediately accessible in the moment. Participants in this session will learn how to apply bystander intervention as a method to respond when witnessing a microaggression. The presenters will discuss various forms of microaggressions, their connection to broader social oppression, and the principles of bystander intervention. Participants will work through scenarios and reflect on ways they might utilize bystander principles in future situations. As a result of attending this session, participants will: 1) Identify different types of microaggressions experienced by minoritized groups to recognize these incidents when they occur during everyday life. 2) Apply bystander intervention principles when microaggressions are observed to increase one’s self-confidence in interrupting bias.

Montana 4-H for All -Kimberly Richardson, Extension Agent, Montana State University & 4-H Inclusion Committee
The presentation will feature an overview of the updates to Montana 4-H policy to serve all youth in Montana. It will outline best practices that will include overarching themes of DEI as it pertains to 4-H, celebrating that 4-H is for everyone.

Pronouns: Beyond the Binary (and even They) -Anna L. EldenBrady, 4-H Tech Wizards Coordinator, Muskegon County, Michigan State University Extension
Join Anna for a dive into…pronouns? YES! There are so many more wonderful ways people describe themselves beyond just him/his, she/her, and they/theirs. In this presentation, attendees will learn the different ways people describe their gender, the ways pronouns have changed over time, what a neopronoun is and why these “new” pronouns are both important and not really new, and what to do when encountering someone who has embraced them.

Self-Advocacy and How to Be an Active Bystander in Your Community -Sophia Bielsky, JDEI Strategist, Inclusive Outdoors Project
What is self-advocacy? Why is self-advocacy important? What are some examples of self-advocacy? What is a bystander? Why are bystanders important? What don’t you do as a bystander? How do self-advocacy and bystanders create community? The presentation will give you tools to become an active bystander and will highlight the importance of self and group advocacy for community growth. 

Diversity and Inclusion at MSU and Beyond -Precious (PJ) Diamond, Program Manager, Montana State University Diversity and Inclusion Student Commons 
This introductory presentation will give you basic information regarding the resources and support avenues available to the diverse-identifying students at Montana State University. Also, the institutional strategies and program developments of supporting diversity and inclusion efforts at MSU will be explored. This presentation is intended to be informational to those in and/or interested in the MSU/BZN community as well as serve as a case study for one example of DEI efforts at a land-grant institution. Lastly, this presentation is meant to be engaging in part, so the audience is advised to come prepared!

Communities Building Safe and Inclusive Learning and Service Environments for LGBTQ+, Two-spirit & Gender Diverse Youth -Harper Kushner, Youth Programs Specialist, EmpowerMT & Sierra Pannell, BSW, Youth Programs Specialist, EmpowerMT
EmpowerMT supports, mobilizes, and engages LGBTQ+, Two-spirit, & Gender Diverse youth and allies as leaders in confronting individual and institutional transphobia and homophobia to build safer schools and communities. This is done through local LGBTQ+ drop-in groups, Youth Forward and Be You Crew, Empowering Youth leadership institutes, and youth & school workshops. EmpowerMT is the Montana GSA Network coordinator, a resource to statewide Gender and Sexuality Alliances (formerly Gay-Straight Alliances) led by youth leaders and adult mentors. By engaging in critical self-reflection, analyzing the cycle of oppression, and gaining active ally skills, we can create specific action steps for each school or community and provide outside resources and recommendations for further learning. EmpowerMT is a sought-out resource and model for supporting, empowering, and creating safe spaces for LGBTQ+, two-spirit, and gender diverse youth in Montana. This workshop will provide the resources and best practices for educators and school staff to build a safe and inclusive environment for LGBTQ+, Two-Spirit, & Gender diverse youth.

LGBT Elders: Issues and Ideas -Ninia Baehr, Ph.D., RN, Hospice Nurse 
According to SAGE, a national LGBT advocacy and service organization, LGBT older people are twice as likely to be single and live alone and four times less likely to have children. SAGE asks, “If we don’t look out for each other, who will?” In this session we will discuss some of the unique challenges facing LGBT older adults and explore available resources. We’ll talk about how social service organizations can create more inclusive, safe and welcoming spaces, and we’ll consider what we, as LGBT individuals and allies, can do to support our elders.  

Queerstory: The Tip of the Iceberg Anna L. EldenBrady, 4-H Tech Wizards Coordinator, Muskegon County, Michigan State University Extension
History…strike that, /queerstory/, is the story of oppression, setback, victories, and a lot of hard work by dedicated individuals to make the world more affirming for everyone. But it hasn’t always been pretty, tidy, or polite. Take a journey across nearly two centuries hitting just a narrow slice of the history of LGBTQIA+ rights, rebellion, and resistance.

Teaching ‘Queer’: Reaffirming Identities by Sharing Your Own -Sonja Benton, Faculty, Montana State University College of Letters and Science & Trainer, Safe Zone and Bridgercare Healthcare Allies
When I first started teaching, I very quickly had to decide what kind of teacher I would be. As a public activist, there were a lot of concerns about what my classroom would look like. Through tons of off-the-job training and research, and a whole lot of trial and error, I have learned a few key aspects of what it is to be an LGBTQ+ student, an LGBTQ+ teacher, an ally, and so many related roles. From specific syllabus language, to course texts, to policies, to one-on-one conversations, to power dynamics there are a few universal skills: vulnerability, honestly, flexibility, and understanding. While I am a teacher, and this presentation is through the lens of my interactions with students, these ideas apply to and have aided me in every life context. They helped me as a student and a professional. When we blend our positions of power with radical vulnerability, we create new narratives for our work – narratives that are more inclusive and kinder for everyone.

LGBTQ+ Inclusion: Intent vs. Impact -Mayyadah Zagelow, 4-H Teen Leader, Washington State 4-H Teen Equity & Inclusion Task Force
In this session, participants will assess their attitudes and experiences regarding the use of “that’s so gay” and other anti-LGBTQ+ slurs. Our own experiences are used to build awareness about the intent versus impact of anti-LGBTQ+ epithets. Games and activities will provide participants with tools to continue the dialogue in their own communities.

LGBTQ+ College Student Advice for Younger Students, Teachers and Parents -John Paxton, Professor and Director, Montana State University; Hannah Crooks, Organismal Biology Major; Christopher Guenther, Chemical Engineering Major; Logan Oleson, Cell Biology and Neuroscience Major; March Renfro, Computer Engineering Major & Kyle Rutten, Statistics Major
During this moderated panel, five Montana State University students will share how the LGBTQ+ college experience differs from the high school experience. They will share advice that might be beneficial to LGBTQ+ high school students, as well as to the parents and teachers of these students. At the end of the session, attendees will have an opportunity to ask questions.

Exploring Intersecting Identities: How to Find Your Place in College as a Queer, Disabled Student -Hannah Crooks, Student Coordinator, Montana State University Diversity and Inclusion Student Commons
Going to college is challenging and students with intersecting identities often feel this the most. So how do we set disabled LGBT+ students up for success? In this presentation, we will talk about how to find a resources, community, and support on campus and how students can set themselves up for success.

Why Pronouns Matter -Anna Zagelow, 4-H Volunteer, Washington State 4-H Teen Equity & Inclusion Task Force ; Ruby Coulson, Teen 4-H Leader, Washington State 4-H Teen Equity & Inclusion Task Force & Emma Fontenot, Teen 4-H Leader, Washington State 4-H Teen Equity & Inclusion Task Force
Thorough games and activities participants will practice using different personal pronouns. Respecting gender identities by using chosen names and correct pronouns decreases the risk of depression and suicide for transgender and gender non-conforming youth. Participants will leave with the tools to share this inclusive practice in their own groups.

Trans Athletes: A Conversation -Grab dinner on Friday evening and settle in with this pre-recorded panel discussion.
During the 2021 Montana legislative session multiple anti-transgender bills were proposed. HB112, a bill that would ban transgender girls and women from participating in sports from elementary school until college, is one of those bills. Transgender Athletes: A Conversation was organized by the Montana Gender Alliance for trans athletes to speak out against these bills, educate the public, and discuss how their participation in sports has changed their lives.


Summit Presenters

Sloan Okrey Anderson (they/them/theirs)
Sloan obtained a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Illinois and spent three years
working with queer and trans youth as a social worker in central Illinois. Sloan is a PhD candidate in the department of Family Social Science at the University of Minnesota. Their research is focused on the experiences of LGBTQIA people who were raised in non-affirming Christian families, and the ways in which those experiences continue to impact LGBTQIA people into adulthood. Sloan currently works collaboratively with a local non-profit that focuses on serving adults who have experienced religious and spiritual abuse and trauma. Their dissertation research is among the first to explore the impact of Christian family rejection across the lifespan.

Ninia Baehr, Ph.D., RN (she/her/hers)
Ninia is a 60-year-old lesbian hospice nurse who for the past four years has been caring for frail older adults in private homes, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes in the Gallatin Valley. She has been an LGBT activist since the age of 19 when she helped organize a conference for queer people at the University of Idaho in spite of police warnings about possible anti-queer violence. In 1991, when same-sex marriage was not legal anywhere in the world, Ninia became the named plaintiff in the Hawaii case Baehr v Lewin, the first marriage equality lawsuit to receive a positive court ruling. Before returning to nursing, Ninia served as the LGBT Advocacy Coordinator for the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana. She is happy to speak about her past experiences but is hoping to generate a conversation about taking action to promote the best possible quality of life for LGBT elders. 

Trent Baldwin (any pronouns)
Trent is a graduate of Ohio State University, where they majored in Community Leadership with an emphasis in Community Extension Education, and an interdisciplinary minor in Youth Development. They are an alumnus of the California 4-H program, which helped shape their views on the value of youth development opportunities. Within the field of youth development, they are passionate about LGBTQ+ youth, mental health and wellness, substance abuse prevention, and service learning. They prioritize accessibility and inclusivity in their youth development work. Aside from youth development, Trent is also passionate about agriculture and food systems, as they come from a farming family, and LGBTQ+ issues. They were a founding member of Ohio State’s collegiate Cultivating Change chapter, where they served on the executive board planning programs for LGBTQ+ students in food, agriculture, and environmental sciences. They hope to see a future where queer folks can pursue careers in the field of agriculture without the fear of marginalization. Throughout their career, they hope to be a champion for rural LGBTQ+ folks everywhere.

Sonja Benton (they/them)
Sonja identifies as an intersex, queer, genderqueer, disabled, Latinx educator. They’ve done extensive research on teaching with these identities and affirming students with marginalized identities. As well as an educator, Sonja works as a Healthcare Allies trainer, Safe Zone trainer, an intersex guest speaker for WWAMI, and continues to make activism of all styles a priority. Sonja’s research has previously focused on activism techniques, the power of personal story, teaching “queer,” and a variety of intersectional media representations. Sonja cares deeply about doing work to help marginalized communities, and advocates for widespread change whenever possible. While their talk at the Summit focuses on very specific steps, they view themselves as a resource and would love to hear from anyone. They can be contacted at sonjaabenton@gmail.com.

Sophia Bielsky (she/her)
Sophia is a Queer specific Diversity, Equality, and Inclusive strategist who works to develop initiatives for various organizations. She co-founded Queer Climbers Coalition and Inclusive Outdoors Project, two organizations that focus on inclusivity, mentorship, and promoting adequate representation in the outdoors. She discovered her love for rock climbing while living in the Ozark Mountains for school and spent a subsequent summer in Alaska pursuing both ice and rock guiding. Sophia developed her passion for social justice reform while studying to become a birth doula in 2016. Since then she has supported several people throughout their pregnancies, organized social justice marches, attended policy reform conferences, and is currently working towards cultivating an inclusive, supportive, and intersectional climbing community in Bozeman, Montana.

Ruby Coulson (she/they)
Ruby is in 10th grade, lives in Washington state and Clallam county, and has been in 4-H for eight years. Ruby’s currently enrolled in three projects: a horse project, a leadership project with the county and a leadership project with the state through the Teen Equity and Inclusion Taskforce. Ruby is excited to meet you all and hopes you’ll learn a lot!

Hannah Crooks (she/her)
Hannah is an undergraduate student working for the Diversity and Inclusion Student Commons (DISC) with a focus on supporting students with disabilities. She is passionate about making Montana State University accessible and building community on campus. Outside of work, she is majoring in organismal biology and is the president of oSTEM at MSU.

Jerico Cummings (he/they)
Jerico is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe, and grew up in Rapid City, South Dakota. He left the Black Hills to study at Montana State University where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a Native American Studies minor. Throughout his time at MSU, Jerico served as a Sustained Dialogue Program Coordinator, a Queer Straight Alliance VP, and the ASMSU Student Director of Diversity and Inclusion. Jerico is passionate
about bringing folks together across lines of difference and identity striations — through dialogue — to make change in the realm of equity, justice, and inclusion.

Precious (PJ) Diamond (she/her/hers)
Serving as Program Manager at Montana State University’s Diversity and Inclusion Student Commons, or DISC, PJ is responsible for increasing awareness, promoting inclusion, and inspiring critical thinking about diversity topics. She develops and directs educational training workshops in topics such as LGBTQ+ identities and concerns (Safe Zone), implicit bias, intersectionality and privilege, race and ethnicity, and inclusive leadership, among others. PJ is proud to support numerous MSU students that identify with diverse protected classes and underrepresented populations by way of 1:1 advising and mentoring, cross-cultural dialogue experiences and campus-wide partnerships.

Anna L. EldenBrady (ze/zir/zirs)
Anna is one of three coordinators for the Michigan 4-H Tech Wizards youth mentoring program. Ze has been coordinating programming sites in Muskegon County on the shores of Lake Michigan since 2018. When not enthusiastically diving into STEAM projects with the youth and adults in zir program, ze happily explores diversity, equity, and inclusion areas and searches for ways to share what ze learns with colleagues and community partners. In zir non-work time, ze can be found crafting with zir two children, playing board and card games with zir family, doting on zir four cats, or doing some project on zir house or in the family garden.

Emma Fontenot (she/her)
Emma a 9th grader in Washington and is a part of the Washington state 4-H teen Equity and Inclusion Task Force. This is her eighth year in 4-H and is so excited to continue her 4-H journey by being a part of the task force and helping to further people’s education!

Christopher Guenther (he/him, they/them)
Christopher is the co-president of Montana State University’s Queer Straight Alliance (QSA).  Christopher is a chemical engineering major who grew up in the Seattle area.

Bryce E Hughes (he/him/his)
Bryce is an assistant professor of education at Montana State University, which brought him back to Montana after fifteen years, having been born and raised (mostly) in Billings. He has long been involved in queer advocacy and scholarship in higher education, including founding the LGBT Resource Center at Gonzaga University, publishing the first paper to document LGBQ retention in STEM, and earning an NSF CAREER award to study LGBTQ experiences in STEM. He is also interested in the connections between the LGBTQ community and faith; his dissertation focused on strategies used by grassroots leaders at a Catholic university to address LGBTQ issues. He lives with his husband and their cat, Piper, and he is an avid musician, playing piano and singing in the choir at St. James Episcopal Church in Bozeman.

Sarah Jones-Popiel (she/her/hers)
Sarah is the mother of two teenagers. She has a degree in Human Development and Family Studies and a minor in Psychology from the University of Utah. Prior to having kids, she worked as a case manager for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Helena. She’s passionate about social justice, human rights, and mental healthcare.

Amber King (she/her/hers)
Amber is an Associate Dean in the Dean of Students office at Montana State University. She has long been involved in violence prevention advocacy, primarily around intimate partner violence. Amber has extensive experience facilitating violence prevention presentations and trainings to MSU students on bystander intervention, consent, healthy relationships, and confidential resources available to students. She has also facilitated dialogue among students volunteering for the campus sexual assault office in the peer education program.

Harper Kushner (he/him/his)
Harper Kushner is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Communication Studies and a minor in American History at the University of Montana. Born in Germany and raised in Montana and Australia, Harper is passionate about pursuing social justice and equality to support minorities and at-risk populations. He has been part of EmpowerMT since 2010, when he helped establish Youth Forward to support queer youth in Missoula and its surrounding areas. Now, Harper facilitates EmpowerMT’s queer youth programs and is the co-representative for Montana State GSA Network. He enjoys learning, walking his dog, and spending time with his partner and cats.

Ivan MacDonald (he/him/his)
Ivan is an enrolled member of the Blackfeet tribe. He received his MSW from the University of Montana and since then has dedicated his career to racial and gender-based justice. Currently, he works as the community engagement lead for The Montana Racial Equity Project. With his sister, Ivy, he is the most recent receipt of the ACLU of Montana’s Jeanette Rankin Peace Award for 2020 for their work on raising awareness for the MMIWG2s crisis. His main focus has been indigenous rights, gender-based violence, and criminal justice reform. In conjunction with his justice work, he is a filmmaker and most recently produced Blackfeet Boxing: Not Invisible with ESPN as well as being named a Firelight Media Fellow. For the last two years, he has been working on his first feature-length documentary with his sister, Ivy, which has received support from ITVS and the Montana film office.

Mija (they/them)
Mija is motivated by their mistakes and by indigenous brilliance.  They fight for accountability and liberation, resisting notions that suggest colonial ideals, beliefs, and practices are superior. Mija rejects a gender binary that confines bodies and identities to toxic policies and posturing.  Mija believes that everyone has a right to their personal autonomy & that sexual liberation is a key component for personal & global, harmony. You can find Mija on Facebook as Dandilion Cloverdale or on Instagram @thelovingwarrior

Paxton McCausland (he/him)
Paxton is the Program Coordinator for the Montana Gender Alliance as well as a general LGBT+ lobbyist for the Montana Human Rights Network. He also sits on the TransVisible Montana table. Through his work with MGA, Paxton facilitates several support groups and organizes ally trainings for local businesses and non-profits.

Moon Moua (she/they)
Moon strives to be a conscious creator in all sectors of her life to inspire authenticity, growth, and holistic healing. She works through a lens influenced by compassion, wonder, and potential as Moon continues to learn what it means to show up as her authentic self every day. Previously, as a social worker, Moon felt compelled to be a conduit of equitable social justice where she advocated for clients through a biopsychosocial framework. Now as a designer, Moon uses her social work experience to design meaningful visual experiences with integrity and humility. Moon continues to bridge her passion for social justice and art to create mindful and decolonized design that sparks connection from within in hopes for social healing and change for – not a better world – but an intentional, deserving, and compassionate world for all life.

Logan Oleson (they/them)
Logan is a second-year student at Montana State University, studying cellular biology and neuroscience.  From Florence, MT, Logan is the proud owner of a dog, three cats, and 12 chickens. Logan is the vice-president of oSTEM at Montana State.

Danielle Pacheco (she/her)
Danielle is a member of the Smittcamp Family Honors College at California State University, Fresno. Danielle received the President’s Honors Scholarship and currently serves as President of Fresno State’s Women’s Alliance. She is also a member of several Honors Societies and actively participates in various on-campus organizations. Danielle joined this team to further her engagement in advocating for marginalized communities. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community herself, she is passionate about raising awareness of the challenges that many LGBTQ+ individuals face and encouraging civic engagement to counteract discriminatory policies. Danielle is interested in pursuing public policy work after graduation to facilitate political change and to continue to advocate for marginalized communities.

Sierra Pannell (she/her/hers)
Sierra has lived in Missoula for thirteen years and got involved with EmpowerMT when receiving her bachelor’s degree in Social Work and Minor in African American Studies from the University of Montana. Serving as both a practicum student and racial justice intern for the 2018/2019 academic year, Sierra’s passion for social and racial justice allowed her to connect further with the Missoula community. Sierra currently facilitates EmpowerMT’s BIPOC youth program, the Association of BIPOC Youth (ABY), and is the co-representative for Montana GSA Network. While she moved to Portland, OR after graduation, she has moved back to Missoula and is excited to work with EmpowerMT again!

John Paxton (he/him)
John has been a faculty member at Montana State University since 1990. He is honored to serve as the faculty advisor for the oSTEM (out in STEM) at MSU club, a club that supports LGBTQ+ students in STEM fields to succeed both professionally and personally. John is also a computer science professor and the director of MSU’s School of Computing.

Siena Popiel (they/them/theirs)
Siena a senior at Bozeman High School and president of the Sexuality and Gender Alliance club. They are a member of the debate team and an intern at Forward Montana. They hope to go into either law or politics and make a career of defending human rights.

Shawn Reagor (he/him/his)
Shawn is a Helena resident and the Director of Equality and Economic Justice with the Montana Human Rights Network. He has been an advocate of LGBTQ rights for over a decade. During that time – Shawn co-chaired the committee responsible for defeating the anti-trans bathroom initiative and worked to defeat a similar proposition in Alaska. He has presented at hundreds of educational events across the state and has worked on both the state and municipal levels to extend nondiscrimination protections to LGBTQ Montanans. Shawn has created and facilitated transgender, nonbinary, and Two Spirit support groups across the state and helped found TransVisible Montana. He has been recognized for his work by the Imperial Sovereign Court of the State of Montana, the Forward Montana Rockstar Hall of Fame, the 2018 Montana 25 Under 25, and has been awarded fellowships with the Trans Justice Funding Project and the Western States Center. He is currently leading the Free and Fair Montana Coalition which is a number of state-based organizations committed advocating for LGBTQ rights in the state legislature. In his free time, Shawn enjoys camping with his partner, Kasandra, and cat, Copernicus.

Kimberly Richardson (she/her/hers)
Kimberly is the Montana State University Deer Lodge County Extension Agent, the MSUE DEI Chair, and the NACAA DEI Advisory Board Chair.

March Renfro (they/them, he/him)
March grew up in a small, religious community before moving to the Fort Belknap Reservation.  March is a junior at Montana State University, majoring in computer engineering.

Kyle Rutten (he/his)
Kyle is the former President of oSTEM and a QSA Representative at Montana State University.  Kyle is studying Statistics with minors in Computer Science, Data Science, and Economics.

Natalie Shepp (she/her)
Natalie is a Program Coordinator for the Arizona 4-H Healthy Living Ambassadors at the University of Arizona. She created this program in 2012 to encourage young people to practice personal wellness and promote those concepts within their own communities. In 2019, she hosted a 4-H Youth Action Project to provide 4-Hers with the opportunity to develop skills in inquiry, evidence, and presentation, and generate findings that allowed them to develop new insights into issues that are important to them. The YAP project also helped them understand the roots of problems facing their communities and develop the skills necessary to take action to solve them. The 4-Hers chose to focus on the topic of mental health resources in schools, especially for LGBTQ+ youth. These young people found success in that goal and are now focused on creating more inclusive environments in 4-H. Natalie has a BS in Environmental Sciences and a Master of Public Health from the University of Arizona.

Katherine Soule (she/her)
Dr. Soule currently serves as the Assistant Vice Provost of UC Cooperative Extension, the Director of UC Cooperative Extension and Youth, Families, & Communities Advisor for San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties. Dr. Soule seeks to provide solutions to the challenges that youth, families, and communities face. She focuses on the creation of innovative and effective interventions, policy-relevant research, and educational trainings to address the following major goals: 1) Increasing health equity in marginalized communities, 2) Improving food security and safety for food insecure residents, and 3) Promoting economic prosperity in low-income communities. While these efforts positively address several public values, as a queer leader, the connecting thread across all her efforts is the pursuit of an inclusive and equitable society.

Jessica Sprain (she/her)
Jessica is the UF/IFAS Extension 4-H Youth Development Agent in Osceola County, Florida. She has been with UF/IFAS Extension for six years. Her work focuses on S.T.E.M. education, youth development, volunteer development and diversity and inclusion targeting LGBTQ+ youth. She is currently working on her masters’ degree at the University of Florida in Family, Youth and Community Science with an emphasis on nonprofit management and trauma-informed programming to address adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).

Joan Sprain (she/her)
Joan Sprain, M.Ed, is a retired professor and family living educator from the University of Wisconsin-Extension/University of Minnesota where she worked for 40 years throughout both states with rural and urban audiences. She served on numerous regional, state & local community coalitions including the criminal justice committee, drug court, jail education, farm crisis support, violence prevention, childhood trauma prevention and leadership development.

Tim Williams (he/him)
“I was born in a small town in Texas, I was raised in a small town in Montana, I became an adult in a very big town in New York.  I was a child of the 60s, a teenager and young adult of the 70s, and morphed into full human form in the 80s.  I lived “Sex and the City” before it was a TV show, wild wacky adventures ensued.. and a few diseases.  Life has a habit of repeating, positively and negatively, if not relayed from the outgoing to the incoming generation. So… I have a few stories to pass on, and possibly a few lessons learned that might be of interest.”

TransVisible Montana
TransVisible Montana promotes awareness and education in Montana on issues affecting trans, non-binary, and two-spirit Montanans. Find them online at https://transvisiblemontana.org/; https://www.facebook.com/TransVisibleMontana/;
https://twitter.com/transvisiblemt?lang=en and https://www.instagram.com/transvisiblemontana/

Mayyadah Zagelow (she/her)
Mayyadah is from Seattle, Washington and a King County 4-H member, as well as the 2021 National 4-H Youth in Action Healthy Living pillar winner. Mayyadah focuses her equity work on inclusion within her 4-H community. As a founding member of the Washington State 4-H Teen Equity and Inclusion Task Force, she has worked to help implement the normalization of sharing pronouns and creating safe spaces for people of all identities. She has facilitated workshops and participated in speaking opportunities at the state, regional, and national level. As a pillar winner, Mayyadah serves as a spokesperson for National 4-H Council and has the opportunity to share her story with 4-Hers from around the nation.


Summit Supporters


2021 Planning and Administration

A huge thank-you to all these individuals who gave their time, talent, and knowledge to make this Summit a reality!

Summit Planning
Deb Albin  
Jenny Jo Allen 
Olivia Anderson
Cami Armijo-Grover 
Alison Brennan 
Lovenae Buggs
Christopher Coburn 
Betsy Danforth  
Precious (PJ) Diamond  
Nat Forcier 
Jocelyn Funderburk 
Mariah Hill
Bryce Hughes  
Priya Kumar 
Wan-Yuan Kuo
Paul Lachapelle 
Patrick Mangan 
Mija
Kelly Moore  
John Paxton 
McKeeley Shannon
Lily Smith  
Royce Smith 
Liliana Vega  
Barb Watson 
Mayydah Zagelow 

Proposal Evaluation
Deb Albin
Cami Armijo-Grover
Alison Brennan
Genevieve Burmeister
Betsy Danforth
Hailey Hogan
Bryce Hughes
Paul Lachapelle
Patrick Mangan
Mija
Liliana Vega
Casey Wolfe

Technology
Dani Castillo-Dávalos

Marketing and Social Media
Nat Forcier
Gillian Madden
Casey Wolfe
Anna Campbell
Betsy Danforth

Administration and Finance
MSU Dept. of Political Science
Look Up, LLC