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Our Board

Humanities Montana’s board and staff at the Payne Family Native American Center for their winter board meeting, January 19, 2018. Left to right: Caroline Bitz, David Irion, Debbie Garland, Penny Redli, Aaron Pruitt, Connie Daugherty, Victoria Cech, Patty Dean, Ken Egan, April Charlo, Tobin Miller Shearer, Rita Collins, Debby Randall, Scott Crichton (partially viewed), Laura Mitchell Ross (partially viewed), Kim Anderson, Mandy Smoker Broaddus, Brooke Beighle, and Lorents Grosfield.

The Humanities Montana board consists of eighteen volunteer members representing the state's diverse cultural and geographic regions. During their renewable, three-year terms, members evaluate funded projects; promote awareness and appreciation of Humanities Montana's programs to the general public, state leaders, and the Montana congressional delegation; review project proposals; set policy; exercise fiduciary responsibility; assist with fundraising and development; and represent Humanities Montana.

2019 Board Members

Years following board member names indicate when their terms expire

* indicates Governor’s appointees

Click names for board member bios

Board Committees


Tobin Miller Shearer (board chair), Aaron Pruitt (vice chair), Scott Crichton, Penny Redli, Chris Hopkins, Debbie Garland

Finance & Audit

Penny Redli (chair), Lorents Grosfield


Chris Hopkins (chair), Mandy Smoker Broaddus, April Charlo, Aaron Pruitt, Caroline Bitz


Debbie Garland (chair), Caroline Bitz, Patty Dean


Scott Crichton (acting chair), Dave Irion, Carmen McSpadden, Laura Mitchell Ross, Tobin Miller Shearer

Dr. Alden Big Man Jr. is an enrolled member of the Crow Nation of Southeast Montana and a trained historian. He earned his Ph.D. in Western History from the University of New Mexico in 2011 and his Masters of Arts and History in 2001 . He is a former cabinet head of Crow Homeland Security for Crow Agency and has taught at each level of the educational system including Universities, Tribal Colleges, and K-8 spectrums. He was the director of the Crow Tribe’s Water Resources department and oversaw the rehabilitation of the Crow reservation irrigation system. His latest research is regarding American Indian Vietnam Veterans and telling their story from a Native Perspective.

Caroline Bitz is in the agricultural business of farming and was engaged for 40 years in purebred Angus ranching in Box Elder, Montana. She has been involved in her community through serving on the Havre-Hill County Library Board of Trustees, collaborating with the Big Sandy Branch Library and Dolly Parton Imagination Library, and completing two terms on a governor appointed Montana State Library Commission. Serving on the Commission afforded her opportunities to advocate for Montana libraries and early childhood literacy with government representatives in Washington D.C. Currently she volunteers with non-profits through overseeing funding and assistance on behalf of exploited people overseas and in communities of Montanans. She studied business at Riverside Community College and Community Service at Montana State University Northern.

Mandy Smoker Broaddus

is a member of the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux tribes in northeastern Montana. She is the Director of Indian Education at the Montana Office of Public Instruction, where she also oversees the Schools of Promise Initiative. She is the author of a collection of poetry, Another Attempt at Rescue, and has coedited an anthology of human rights poetry. She served as the writer and a cultural consultant on the award-winning PBS documentary, Indian Relay. Before coming to OPI in 2005, Mandy worked as an educational administrator in her home community of Frazer. In addition, she has served as an instructor at the University of Montana and Fort Peck Community College.

Antoine Brockman graduated from the University of Montana Missoula with degrees in history and political science. In addition to his fund development and strategic planning knowledge, Antoine has broad experience with national health advocacy, nonprofit organizations, and public benefit corporations. He has also worked at the state level to provide a stronger education system. Antoine is the youngest person ever elected to serve on the Humanities Montana Board of Directors.

Victoria Cech, the Foundation Director for MHA, an Association of Montana Health Care Providers, lives in Clancy. She has a B.A. from Swarthmore College, an M.A. from Oxford University, and an M.Ed. from Montana State University Billings. She has served as the Board Chair of the Western Heritage Center in Billings and as Education Chair for the Billings Catholic School Board, and is a community member of the editorial board of the journal, The Montana Professor. In addition to her work as a grants writer, she has served as an adjunct instructor in both Ancient Greek and in History at Montana State University Billings and at Rocky Mountain College.

April Charlo, an enrolled member of the Confederated Salish-Kootenai Tribes, is the Tribal Outreach Director for Special Olympics on the Flathead Reservation. She has previously served as director of Nkusm, a school dedicated to teaching the Salish language, and as a language teacher maker. Charlo holds degrees from Salish-Kootenai College and the University of Montana Missoula. She sits on the board of directors for Healthy Native Communities Partnership and Native Generational Change.

Rita Collins is director of arts and education for the Montana-based Sunburst Community Service Foundation. She holds a doctorate in Adult Education from Portland State University and was awarded a fellowship from the National Institute of Literacy. In Montana, she has taught extensively from a small K-8 school in Trego to Flathead Valley Community College. She also worked in central Europe teaching Romanian children for two years and then joined the faculty at Masaryk University in the Czech Republic for six years. After returning to northwest Montana in 2011, she has become involved in the Tobacco Valley Board of History.

Scott Crichton retired from the American Civil Liberties Union in 2015 after 26 years as the Montana Executive Director. His grassroots organizing in Montana spans decades building coalitions to advocate for peace and justice. He’s lived in Missoula since 2008.

Connie Daugherty is the retired supervisor of the technical services department at Montana Tech Library in Butte. She is also a contributing writer to The Montana Senior News and The Idaho Senior. Connie writes a book review column that focuses on Montana and Idaho authors for the respective magazines and also contributes human interest articles about active seniors to The Montana Senior News. She has a B.S. in Society and Technology and an M.S. in Technical Communications from Montana Tech.

Patty Dean received her A.B. in history from Carroll College and an M.A. in History Museum Studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program/State University of New York. Over the last 30 years, she has worked as a curator at the Minnesota Historical Society, Arkansas Arts Center, and Montana Historical Society and as a public historian for the Montana Preservation Alliance and independently. Dean is presently the Gallery Director for the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts. She has also served as a board/commission member for Drumlummon Institute, Helena/Lewis & Clark County Historic Preservation Commission, and Montana Heritage Commission.

David Dietrich received his Juris Doctor (JD) from the University of Montana College of Law. He is a fourth generation Montanan with a diverse ranching, real estate and estate planning background. His Billings-based law firm, Dietrich & Associates, P.C., has provided real estate tax and estate planning services to the region for over 24 years. He is passionate about promoting and enhancing the appreciation (for grade school children through college students) of literacy and the performing arts, notably in the South Central and Eastern Montana region. David and his family enjoy living in the Big Sky Country; he is an avid outdoor digital camera user, skier and hiker.

Debbie Garland, graduate of Whitman College with a B.A. in English and K-12 Education, is a retired financial planner with a Chartered Financial Planning Degree. She has taught high school Language Arts and is one semester away from finishing a Master in Education and an Endorsement in Reading and Literacy. Developing a literacy center for struggling readers in Colorado, creating a grief program for children, and working in the school district to promote enriched curriculum reflect her volunteer commitment to helping children.

Lorents Grosfield is a third-generation cattle rancher from Big Timber. He has a B.S. in Business from Colorado State University. He served in the Montana State Senate for three terms in the 90s and early 2000s, including twelve years on the Judiciary and Natural Resources Committees. He currently is a board member of the Burton K Wheeler Center, and chairman of the Sweet Grass County Planning Board.

Carla Homstad has lived in Montana, both east and west of the divide, for most of her life. She earned her B.A. and M.A. in History from the University of Montana and worked as a consulting historian in Missoula for 20 years. In that capacity her work covered such topics as water rights, tribal histories, and cultural landscapes. She recently retired to focus more on writing poetry. She currently lives in Stevensville, the Bitterroot Mountains her constant companion.

Chris Hopkins earned his B.S. in history, with a minor in art history, at Humboldt State University, Arcata California and has a Master’s Degree in business administration from the University of Utah. He is currently the vice president of strategy and business development at Montana Health Network in Miles City. Chris serves on the Healthcare Administration Advisory Board at MSU Billings and several local boards, including the ROCKS board, an afterschool program for kids.

David Irion, retired, is formerly a high school principal and healthcare executive. He has extensive experience in cultural and charitable public benefit corporations.

Mary McCormick is an architectural historian with over 30 years of experience in the field of historic preservation. For most of her career she served as a managing in partner in a consulting firm in Butte, a position which brought to her to all corners of Montana and provided opportunities to document a wide range of historic properties ranging from residential and commercial districts to abandoned mines and hydroelectric systems. In July 2015, Mary assumed her current position as Historic Preservation Officer for Butte-Silver Bow. It’s a job that she loves, especially working to promote Butte’s history and architectural legacy and the economic, community and cultural benefits of historic preservation.

Carmen McSpadden is the director of the Montana State University Leadership Institute. She has served on many nonprofit boards and is a respected scholar of leadership studies.

Aaron Parrett has lived in Montana for most of his life. After obtaining his B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Montana, he moved to Georgia to earn his M.A. and Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at the University of Georgie. Soon after, he returned home to Montana where he has remained and currently works as a Professor of English at the University of Providence in Great Falls. Amidst numerous awards, board memberships, and public service positions, Aaron is an active writer, covering various topics within the state of Montana.

Aaron Pruitt (vice chair) is the associate general manager of KUSM-TV and director of content for MontanaPBS. A Bozeman native, he has served as executive producer for many important Montana documentaries, including Class C: The Only Game in Town and Indian Relay.

Penny Redli is the executive director of the Museum of the Beartooths (MOB), a museum dedicated to the collection and preservation of the rich history, art and culture of Stillwater County. Prior to joining MOB, Penny was the executive director of the Carbon County Historical Society & Museum in Red Lodge for nearly nine years. Penny currently serves on the Museums Association of Montana’s board of directors as secretary and treasurer. She also chairs the Cultural & Aesthetics Advisory Committee.

Laura Mitchell Ross is a retired attorney and Miles City native. She helps her husband with the operation of his 300 tree apple orchard in Fromberg, Montana.

Tobin Miller Shearer (chair) is an Associate Professor of History and the director of the African-American Studies Program at the University of Montana Missoula. His most recent book, Two Weeks Every Summer: Fresh Air Children and the Problem of Race in America (Cornell: 2017), argues that we cannot understand long-standing racial divisions in society without addressing the issues of innocence, sex, nature, and urban-rural relations implicit in the Fresh Air rural hosting programs.