Click on each team members image to learn more.
Ken Egan has served as the executive director of Humanities Montana since 2009. Born in Polson, graduating high school in Great Falls, and receiving his B.A. in English from the University of Montana, he has deep roots in the state. After completing his Ph.D. in American literature at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Ken taught college literature and writing at Middlebury College, Rocky Mountain College, and Drury University. He also received Fulbright grants to teach American literature in Greece and Slovakia. He served on the board of the (then) Montana Committee for the Humanities from 1989-1992, and he currently serves on the board of the Federation of State Humanities Councils. He and his wife, Terry, have two sons, Devin and Brian, living in Las Vegas and Berlin respectively. His books include Montana 1889, Montana 1864, Hope and Dread in Montana Literature, and Writers Under the Rims: A Yellowstone County Anthology.
Kim returned to her hometown of Missoula in 1989 and spent the next eleven years caring for her two children and working out of a home office as both a free-lance writer and editor and the executive director of several nonprofit arts organizations. Before returning to Missoula, she worked in New York City as the editor for an international business newspaper, The Journal of Commerce, an associate editor for a national magazine, Quest, an associate editor at Arbor House Publishing, a division of the Hearst Corporation, and as subsidiary rights agent for the literary agency Lescher & Lescher, Ltd. As a free-lance writer articles, essays, fiction and poetry have appeared in publications including The New York Times, The Journal of Commerce, Redbook, Ladies Home Journal, Horizon, The Financial Times, Quest, and others.
Director of Programs and Grants
Brooke received her B.A. (Hons) in Communication Studies from the University of Montana and an A.A. in Music (Vocal Performance) from Musician’s Institute in Los Angeles, CA. During her time as an Arts and Culture Reporter for the Montana Kaimin at UM and student ambassador for the Kakehashi Project in Japan, she explored the intersect of cultural values, artistic expression and the human experience, and how those important stories are communicated to the public. Brooke manages the internal and external communications for Humanities Montana’s various programs, initiatives, events and grant opportunities and is always looking for fresh ways to connect Montanans to the humanities.
Executive Assistant and Communications Director
Born and raised in Montana, Sam earned her Master of Arts in literature, with a minor in art and an emphasis in science from the University of Montana. She loves finding the humanities connections in a broad array of topics and fields. Sam originally worked at Humanities Montana from 2011-2016 before taking two years to teach ceramic arts at The American International School of Muscat in Oman, returning to Missoula in 2018. In her role as program officer, Sam plans a variety of programming, including Montana Conversations and Montana Center for the Book programs. She is always looking for new partnerships that will help bring the humanities to more Montanans.
Sara was raised on the east coast and earned her B.A.Sc. with a concentration in History from the Wilkes Honors College in Florida. She has lived in many states due to her father’s career in the U.S. military but has called Montana home since 2010 when she moved here as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer. Sara fell in love with all Montana has to offer and was committed to continuing her work with nonprofit organizations after completing her national year of service. She has worked with local, state, and national nonprofits across the state and enjoys connecting individuals and communities with causes they are passionate about. Outside of the office, Sara loves exploring Montana and looks forward to sharing this great state with her new son.
Valerie moved from the Adirondacks in northern New York to Butte, Montana just last summer in 2018. She has experience working with agencies, small businesses, and nonprofits and loves the one-on-one interactions with her clients. When not at work you can find her hiking, woodworking, or focusing on personal projects.
Digital Communications Specialist
Alden Big Man
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.
Alden Big Man
Mandy Smoker Broaddus
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.
Mandy Smoker Broaddus
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.
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.
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 Dietrichreceived 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.
Big Timber (2019)
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 Hopkinsearned 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 CEO at Montana Health Network in Miles City. A hospital owned company providing support and services to rural hospitals statewide. Chris serves on the Healthcare Administration Advisory Board at MSU Billings and several local boards. Chris loves to travel all of Montana for both work and recreation.
Miles City (2019)
Director and General Manager, MontanaPBS
For over 25 years, Aaron has provided leadership in programming, production, fundraising and management at MontanaPBS. He served as Executive Producer for many award-winning productions including11th & Grant with Eric Funk, Class C: The Only Game in Town, Fort Peck Dam, The Violin Alone and C.M. Russell and the American West. Pruitt collaborates with independent filmmakers distributing programs to national PBS, such as Wolves in Paradise(PBS PLUS), Before There Were Parks: Yellowstone and Glacier Through Native Eyes(PBS NPS) and two PBS INDEPENDENT LENS documentaries, Butte America and Indian Relay. In addition to serving on the Montanans for 4-H board, Aaron serves on the Friends of MontanaPBS board of directors and is an ex-officio board member of the Montana Broadcasters Association.
Bozeman (2020) * – vice chair
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.
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.
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.
Tobin Miller Shearer
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.