Alayna is an artist and collaborator working on projects that involve natural fibers, deep listening, community togetherness and hopeful worldviews. Originally from Helena, MT, Alayna has a B.A. in Geography from the University of Oregon and is a current MFA student at Montana State University. She did a year long residency at the Textile Arts Center in NYC and has spent the last 6 years working as an artist assistant and designer for fashion and soft-goods brands like Haptic Lab, BDDW, and Red Ants Pants. She has a small apparel line called Absorka, and a Milkweed-based design studio called May West that makes outerwear using milkweed floss as a goose down alternative. Alayna is a big believer in the sustainable innovations happening in the fashion industry and the impact that our purchasing power has to create the world we want to live in.
Barbara Wirostko (Morelli), MD
Barbara Wirostko (Morelli) MD, wears a lot of hats as a researcher, clinician, entrepreneur, a nonprofit Executive Director, a wife and mom. A Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Utah, SLC, she loves teaching and caring for patients. She began her career at Cornell with a BS in Microbiology, completed her MD and residency at Columbia University in New York, and a glaucoma fellowship at Cornell. Barbara’s expertise is in ophthalmic clinical research, however her purpose has expanded beyond medicine. Barbara and her husband, Joseph Morelli MD, started the Joseph James Morelli Scholarship, a nonprofit, in memory of their son Joseph James, a junior at MSU in 2014. The family has committed to this effort based on the unmet need nationally that exists - young adults with learning challenges such as dyslexia still struggle to receive accommodations needed to achieve academic success. Barbara lives in Park City with her children and husband and has become an advocate and voice for dyslexia awareness.
Carmen Yupe is a 39 year old small-time native food grower transitioning into the larger food market by exploring and experimenting with a low glycemic potato to integrate into Native populations through a seed sharing program. She sees this program as a catalyst to large scale change. This work, paralleled with a personal healing journey have served as the spark to reignite the dormant dreams that have long been housed in her heart. She is passionate about sharing her spark with all communities she is apart of and nourish a nation hungry for change and healing. Carmen is also undercover poet/comedian, a current Pathways to Agriculture and Native foods, Tribal Health and Sovereignty participant with MSU as well as a part-time Drywall Installer with her husband Jake. She is also the mother of 3 sons, Steven, Liam and Dominic.
Claire Sands Baker
Claire Sands Baker has been described as interstitial: the space in between things. She celebrates the gaps and voids and works to fill them creatively. Claire is the co-founder/director of The Toothpick Project, based in Bozeman (with on-the-ground operations in western Kenya). Claire is a Moonshot Fellow at the Kravis Lab for Social Impact and was a 2017 MassChallenge Finalist. Prior to the Toothpick Project, she had two decades of non-profit management experience spanning the arts (Danforth Gallery in Livingston, Portland Art Museum, and Montana State University College of Arts and Architecture), education (Self Enhancement, Inc. in Portland, Oregon), and international conservation (The Tributary Fund). Claire graduated in art history from Scripps College. In Bozeman with her husband and daughters, she’s managed Destination Imagination youth teams since 2011, served on the board of Big Sky Youth Empowerment for eight years, and mentors students from Tribal colleges in food sovereignty projects.
Dr. David Sands
Dr. David Sands, in an alternate reality where plant cells are computers and he is a plant hacker, took decades to crack the code using fungi, with the goal of killing weeds and replacing chemical herbicides. Dave’s a global leader in biocontrol of weeds with a current emphasis on a bio-herbicide application for Striga, a parasitic weed on 40 million farms in sub-Saharan Africa. For proof-of-concept for this project, called The Toothpick Project, he received Montana’s first Gates Foundation grant. This year, he received a second Gates grant for work on plasmid curing with an ancient Ethiopian barley. Dave is also a principal contributor to an international team of researchers on bioprecipitation (see 2012 TEDxBozeman talk, A Rainmaker Named Sue). He loves research on nutritional foods to improve humanity. In addition to being a biotechnology professor at Montana State, Dave is a disruptive innovator, avid reader, napkin poet, and tennis player.
Dr. Laura Stanley
Dr. Laura Stanley is a passionate educator and researcher, and has a zest for pushing academic boundaries with her technology inspired pursuits. A professor at Clemson University where she studies human-computer interaction, e.g. projects include immersive technologies for pain and anxiety management for children with cancer and mixed reality (e.g., imagine a hologram therapist) coupled with artificial intelligence to aid those with addictions. Dr. Stanley holds three degrees in engineering, a B.S. from Virginia Tech, M.S. and Ph.D. from Montana State University and has authored 72 peer-reviewed publications and acquired $13M in research funding. She served as a Program Officer at the National Science Foundation where she helped to shape the nation’s research agenda. Inspiring Dr. Stanley is the advancement of minorities in engineering and computer science; believing in the power of STEM to help others. Her research ideas often happen while fly fishing and wandering around Montana’s open spaces.
Dr. Rob Maher
Professor Rob Maher joined the MSU Electrical and Computer Engineering Department in 2002. A steadfast educator, inventor, and licensed Professional Engineer, his passions include audio engineering, audio forensics, and music. He has been a leader in the audio industry for many years as an entrepreneur, consultant, and a VP of engineering. He holds a BS degree from Washington University-St. Louis, an MS degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a PhD from the University of Illinois-Urbana, all in Electrical Engineering. He has written and lectured internationally, and also serves as an expert witness in civil and criminal cases. In his spare time, Rob enjoys music and both road and trail running. He is past-president of the Big Sky Wind Drinkers running club, and a member of the Second String Orchestra (cellist) and the St. James Episcopal Church Choir (bass/baritone). He and his wife, Lynn, have two grown sons.
Gary Ferguson is the author of 26 books on science and nature. The Los Angeles Times described his recent memoir, The Carry Home: Lessons from the American Wilderness, as “a big-hearted, soul searching memoir”; the work was later selected as “Nature Book of the Year” by the prestigious Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute. Meanwhile his environmental piece “A Deeper Boom,” in Orion Magazine, received the "Best Essay of the Year" award from the American Society of Journalists and Authors. Ferguson has been a Seigle Scholar at Washington University, St. Louis as well as the William Kittredge Distinguished Writer at the University of Montana. He continues to be a frequent contributor to a wide variety of publications, including Vanity Fair, Orion and the Los Angeles Times. Most recently he’s joined his wife, social psychologist Mary M. Clare, Ph.D., merging natural and social science in what they call “Full Ecology.”
A USCG and MTARNG veteran, James has spent a life of service finding ways to help people. A co-founder of Cowboy Cricket Farms, the largest edible insect producer in the USA, James and his wife Kathy are creating new ways to feed the planet using novel proteins and creating a new industry: edible insects.
Kathleen Carroll is a PhD Candidate in the Ecology Department at Montana State University. She is originally from Arizona but has done ecological work in North America, South America, and Africa. Kathleen has two undergraduate degrees, one in wildlife ecology and one in marine biology from the University of Maine, and an MS from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in Environmental Science. Her current work focuses on wolverine habitat connectivity in the Western United States under future climate change and land use change conditions. Kathleen is motivated to ensure that carnivore conservation moves forward in an increasingly humanized world. She also collaborates directly with managers and agencies to make sure that her work leads to meaningful action.
Kris Kaull, a serial entrepreneur, has driven innovation and positive change in EMS for over 25 years. After beginning his career as a firefighter and EMT, Kaull started paramedic.com and co-founded EMS1.com, today’s leading online paramedic resource. Kaull currently is the Chief Marketing Officer at Pulsara, a Bozeman-based healthcare communications company, and a critical care flight paramedic covering rural Montana and Yellowstone National Park. Kris regularly speaks and writes on topics ranging from technology to current clinical issues to leadership — all with a focus on the importance of the human connection. As a dad of 2 and a husband of 1, Kris enjoys the outdoors and wishes he could spend more time in the mountains skiing, mountain biking, climbing, paddle boarding and furthering his quest to become a ninja
Mary M. Claire, Ph.D.
Across her 30 years of experience as a consultant, professor and scholar, Mary M Clare, Ph.D. has worked to repair the separation that isolates people from each other and from the natural world. In organizations as diverse as government agencies, NGOs, school districts, higher education, she supports high character leadership bridging diverse perspectives and priorities. In communities and families, with individuals and groups she helps people listen across differences. As a Fellow in the American Psychological Association, she has contributed over 100 articles to the scholarly literature and authored two books, most recently 100 Voices – Americans Talk about Change (2011), a book that reveals enduring wisdom and immediate guidance in times of sweeping cultural change. Most recently, she has joined with her husband, science writer, Gary Ferguson, to keynote and run workshops on their shared passion for Full Ecology – Reclaiming Our Human Nature.
Through journeys with industry stars, studies with music legends, and as a saxophonist on a Grammy Award winning album, Ryan has developed as an artist and music professor belonging to the community of studied, genre melding, multi-faceted performers that are taking music back to its collective roots while exploring and researching the art form of Jazz and its connection to the cultural history and sociological condition of America. As one of the last remaining members of the iconic rock group Ike Turner and The Kings of Rhythm, he was on the Grammy Award winning 2007 album, Risin' With the Blues. Ryan is currently pursuing and continuing his performing, teaching and recording career while researching and studying jazz saxophone and African-American history at Montana State University as the newly tenured Jazz Professor.
TaNeel Filesteel is a citizen of the Aaniih and Nakoda Tribes of the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation and Apsaalooke of the Crow Nation in Montana. TaNeel is a student at Salish Kootenai College majoring in Tribal Governance and Administration and has garnered an impressive list of accomplishments and attributes her early success to her family’s dedication to education and cultural value. In 2017, Filesteel was appointed to serve as the Deputy Prosecutor for the Fort Belknap Tribal Government, a position she continues to occupy until she attends Law School in the fall of 2020. She recently worked as the Regional Organizing Coordinator for the Montana Democratic Party, where she organized the Native Vote on the Fort Belknap and Flathead Reservations in the 2018 mid-term election cycle. Filesteel has learned many valuable lessons throughout her vast experiences and hopes to reform the tribal criminal justice system as an attorney.
Professor Vaughan Judge is Director of the School of Art at Montana State University (MSU) and is a Fellow of the National Arts Strategy's Chief Executive Program. He is currently one of the elected Commissioners on Accreditation for the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Prior to MSU, he was the Head of the Fine Art Photography program at the Glasgow School of Art UK. He is the lead author of the book “Undergraduate Research in Art: A Guide for Students” by Routledge Press, and a contributing author to ‘Future Forward Magazine, Empathy at The Core, Ethics, Evaluation, and Engagement. Vaughan Judge has over 38 years of experience in arts education and is a practicing artist of international significance in the field of contemporary photographic art; his work has been cited in three history of photography books with numerous international exhibitions and publications.
Zach Weiss blends a unique combination of systems thinking, empathy, and awareness to specialize in watershed restoration and ecosystem regeneration. Harvesting time and the productivity of natural systems is the guiding principle. The result? Abundant oases that produce for many lifetimes. Zach is a passionate advocate for nature, striving to harmonize human relationships with the living world around us. Growing up in the woodlands of Vermont shaped Zach’s perspective and taught him to look to nature first for answers. A chance to work with the revolutionary Austrian farmer Sepp Holzer empowered Zach with the vision and skills to restore and revive degraded landscapes. Zach created Elemental Ecosystems, an ecological development contracting and consulting firm, to provide an action-oriented process to enhance clients' relationship with their landscape. Elemental Ecosystems has worked on projects in more than 25 countries, spanning 6 continents and a wide range of climates, contexts, and ecosystems.
Zane Burns born and raised with the values of Montana was born to be an Auctioneer. At the age of 16 he attended the Western College of Auctioneering. As a family owned Business the auction block called his name at an early age of six. Working side by side as his parents trained him for an inviting song like auction cry Zane performs his passion to help benefit the community by raising money with his enthusiastic humorous personality.