Hamilton High School Principal
Dan Kimzey is the principal of Hamilton High School. He served in the US Army, national guard, and Army Reserve for 23 years, having achieved the position of Command Sergeant Major as his final posting before retirement. He is the past president of the Montana Association of Secondary School Principals and has been an educator for more than twenty years. He served on combat and operational deployments as well as numerous training and humanitarian missions. He holds B.S. and M.Ed degrees from the University of North Dakota and is a graduate of the US Army Sergeant Majors Academy. Dan’s wife, Brooke, is a speech-pathologist, his daughter, Lauren, is a senior at Hamilton High School and his son, Cole, is an eighth-grader at Hamilton Middle School.
Founder and Director of HEARTISM Community Center and Bitterroot Arts for Autism
Jessica is the the Founder and Director of HEARTISM Community Center and Bitterroot Arts for Autism*, a local non profit serving special needs children and families. Her background is Therapeutics in Recreation and Psychology with a Bachelor of Science and a passion for understanding the world in a new way as an autism advocate/activist. Jessica's daughter, Sequoia, launched Jessica's journey into the depths of autism and sensory processing. No day is an ordinary day with this extraordinary being.
Scientist at Rocky Mountain Laboratories
Karin Peterson, Ph.D., is a scientist and the chief of the Neuroimmunology Section at Rocky Mountain Laboratories, part of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Her research focuses on how certain viruses can gain access to the central nervous system and cause neurological disease. The viruses that she studies include La Crosse virus, Jamestown Canyon virus and Zika virus, which are transmitted to humans by the bite of a mosquito. In her free time, Karin enjoys bicycling, hiking, taking photographs and traveling to different parts of the world to experience unique cultures.
Katie Clarke is a doctoral researcher who studies communication and human connection. Katie has taught communication courses at Hawaii Pacific University and the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She currently serves on the school board in Whitefish, Montana. Along with presenting at National Communication Association and Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication conferences, Katie's work can be found in Nothing But The Truth So Help Me God: 73 Women on Life's Transitions; the International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education; and the upcoming book Pro Football and the Proliferation of Protest: Anthem Kneeling and Standing in a Divided America.
President/CEO of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers
Land is a fifth-generation Montanan who developed his conservation ethic from a young age in duck blinds on warm water sloughs in the Bitterroot Valley, at the end of a fly rod during the salmon fly hatch on the Big Hole River, and chasing the wily wapiti in Cinnabar Basin. He received a B.S. in wildlife biology from the University of Montana in 2000 and a PhD in post hole digging while fencing in the family quarter horses and mules. Since graduating college Land has worked to perpetuate the conservation heritage gifted to us, first with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, then with the National Wildlife Federation and now as CEO at Backcountry Hunters & Anglers.
Michael W. Leach has worked as a ranger naturalist in YNP, Montana fly-fishing and wildlife guide, nonprofit founder and head boys basketball coach; but first and foremost, Michael is a dad and a storyteller. In 2014, Michael's book, Grizzlies On My Mind, topped a regional bestseller list. It was followed by Be Audacious, a Foreword INDIEFAB Book of the Year Finalist.
Passionate about his four generation Western roots, Michael earned a B.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana. Through his writing, speaking and Be Audacious blog, Michael's mission is to help others break down the barriers of conventional beliefs, leading to a more meaningful way to live, work and make a difference. He currently lives with his wife and daughter in Bozeman, Montana.
Senior at Corvallis High School
Michael McKay is a senior at Corvallis High School. He is a two-time state champion in Speech & Debate – Extemporaneous Speaking and has qualified and competed at five national competitions including the 2017 and 2018 National Speech & Debate Tournaments, National FFA Convention, and American Legion National Oratorical Contest.
Michael is currently president of the Corvallis Interact Club, Vice President of Corvallis FFA and a three-time state qualifier in golf. He plans to study communications and marketing/advertising in college with career aspirations in corporate communications and public relations.
Senior Vice President at Colliers International
Michelle Needles is a commercial real estate executive with over twenty years' experience advising global clients, working with every type of space imaginable. Having done deals ranging from retail shops in Beverly Hills and Moscow to manufacturing facilities in Hungary and China, Michelle has made a career of learning to pivot from one topic, one time zone and one business culture to another without skipping a beat. Often one of the only women in the room, Michelle has made a career of finding ways to connect with her peers and manage the conversation to a collaborative outcome. Michelle uses these opportunities for the promotion of diversity, serving as a platform champion for the Colliers International Women's Networking Program and board member of numerous area non-profits.
US National Team Member in Para-Canoe
Nik was born and raised in Montana, where he joined the Marine Corps when he turned 18. He excelled as an infantry plt sgt with 3rd Marines and as a Subject Matter Expert for the Marine Corps Close Quarters Battle program. After his Military retirement, he trained Navy EOD in mission readiness for 9 years. He has excelled in local surf ski races as well as being the US Para-canoe representative at international racing competitions since 2013. Nik is an above the knee amputee, crushed hip, and ruptured aorta, due to mechanical injuries sustained from a careless driver running a stop sign.
Nik is a force to be reckoned with in the paddling scene, able bodied or para-canoeist and we are fortunate to have Nik racing on Team USA!
Stay At Home Mother of Four/Doctor of Physical Therapy
Rachael Watters holds a Doctorate of Physical Therapy. She is a full time wife and a mom to Micah (7), Adeline (5), Emerson (3) and Chloe (17 months). She understands the demands and isolation that being a mother of young children can bring. Over the last year she has been involved in a storytelling endeavor entitled MOMedy. This project consisted of writing and performing a one woman tragic comedy based on her postpartum experiences. Rachael considers herself to be a maternal mental health advocate and hopes that sharing her story and bringing awareness to the realities of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders can break down the stigma surrounding maternal mental health and encourage others to seek support and treatment.
Adventure Travel Guide/Freelance Writer & Journalist
For 23 years, Russ Lawrence greeted customers at Chapter One Book Store in Hamilton. In 2009, he and his wife, Jean Matthews, sold the business and spent 2 years as Peace Corps volunteers in Peru. (Jean passed away in 2015, after 38 years together). He has been a freelance writer and journalist since 1979, has authored one book (and translated another), and his byline has appeared in magazines, newspapers, and trade publications.
Russ has performed in more than 40 theater productions; climbed, biked, and hiked from the Outer Hebrides to Tierra del Fuego; and has held a pilot’s license, a license to perform weddings, and an advanced juggling certificate. He currently leads occasional adventure travel trips to Peru, where he speaks just enough Quechua to make the market ladies giggle.
Concert Violinist, Composer, Producer
Avery Fisher Career Grant winning violinist Tim Fain has toured internationally with Philip Glass in Duo Recitals, performed as soloist with the world’s top orchestras and has been featured in films such as Black Swan, 12 Years A Slave and Moonlight. He co-created Light, with Jacob Marshall, for Forbes as the first ever virtual experience sync-ed to a live musical performance, and collaborated with Jessica Brillhart and Google on Resonance, a 360 VR music film for which he composed the score and performed throughout on camera. Tim has written and performed music for numerous other films and VR experiences, and collaborated intimately with artists such as Leonard Cohen, Justin Vernon, Richard Goode, Darren Aronofsky, Lou Reed, and Christina Aguilera.