The Democracy Project – Meet Our Community Organizers

Shirley Thao and Libby McCarthy of the Library Foundation of Los Angeles lead a training with Kim Anderson and Mj Desrosier in Missoula.

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Humanities Montana welcomes Mj Desrosier and Emma Kerr-Carpenter as our first community organizers for The Democracy Project.

Mj Desrosier (Missoula and Seeley Lake)

Mj is from the Blackfeet and Gros Ventre tribes in Montana, and grew up on the Blackfeet Reservation. Shortly after receiving an honorable discharge from the United States Marine Corps, Mj started pursuing a B.A. in Philosophy with a certificate in environmental ethics. While in college, Mj worked for the non-profit MontPIRG focusing on environmental justice and voting rights.


Emma Kerr-Carpenter (Billings and Roundup)

Emma Kerr-Carpenter worked at Youth Dynamics as a case manager and education coordinator before joining Humanities Montana. She was elected to the Montana House of Representatives in 2018 and served on the House Taxations, Natural Resources and Local Government committee, as well as the Legislative Audit committee. Emma is a board member of the Northern Plains Resource Council and is active in her local affiliate, Yellowstone Valley Citizen’s Council.


The Democracy Project was originally created by the Library Foundation of Los Angeles (LFLA) in 2016 with the goal of providing young people with civic engagement experiences that would inform and inspire them for years to come. Our relationship with the Foundation sparked the idea to bring the program to Montana.

“I come from a smaller town in California and I think about what it means to build resources and power in places that may have not always had it,” says Shirley Thao of the LFLA. “I think it’s also important to retain talent. I had to leave my hometown to do the work I wanted to do, but if it were up to me I wouldn’t have.” Shirley led two in-person training sessions with our community organizers in February.