Meet your 2018 Board of Directors
Wayne Nelson '83
President, Stockman Bank in Billings
What’s your favorite memory from your time at UM? Forester’s Ball, early 80s fraternity experience, and sitting in the old business school building with all the windows open (old fashioned air conditioning).
How has your UM education benefited you in your post-college life? UM is second to none in the education arena. The skills I learned have been put to use every day in my banking career. The relationships that I formed while in school have served me well in my 30+ years since graduating. It’s fun to watch what everyone does after graduation. And its particularly fascinating to network and actually do business with my fellow alums.
What’s your favorite aspect of serving on the UMAA Board of Directors? Knowing that I am working on behalf of 100,000 alums and really getting to collaborate with campus leadership to pursue and accomplish strategic goals.
Chris Newbold '01
Executive vice president, ALPS Corporation; author/owner, University Pride Publishing
Erin Billings '95
Master of Arts, Journalism
Public relations/media strategist, Global Strategy Group
What’s your favorite memory from your time at UM? It’s difficult to pick one favorite memory of UM because there were so many – hiking the M, losing my voice screaming at Grizzly football games, walking across campus in the snow. If I had to pick a standout, however, it would be working at the Montana Kaimin, spending so many late nights with other passionate students trying to finish the perfect story and put out a perfect newspaper (and break the news before the Missoulian did).
How has your UM education benefited you in your post-college life? My education at UM set the course for my career. It prepared me in ways I could never have imagined. UM made me a better writer and editor, taught me how to meet and exceed deadlines, communicate to different audiences and conceive and deliver persuasive and compelling arguments. Without a doubt, studying journalism at UM equipped me for a successful and fulfilling career as a political reporter and now as a strategic communications consultant.
What’s your favorite aspect of serving on the UMAA Board of Directors? As a new member of the board, I am looking forward following through on my father’s contributions as a board member and giving back to the University that afforded me so much opportunity. I hope that by working with the UMAA Board in the months ahead, I can help strengthen UM’s national footprint, grow its support from alumni and other stakeholders and build on its already strong brand. This is an important time in UM’s history, and I am excited to work with the board to help keep it on a path of progress.
Vanessa Yeager Bucklin '04
Master of Business Administration
Financial Services Professional and Owner of Pondera County Insurance
What’s your favorite memory from your time at UM? As with all students, it is difficult to pick just one memory at UM. The smell alone on a beautiful, crisp fall day walking through the leaves of UM campus is enough to make you smile! I get chills every time I enter Washington Grizzly Stadium and with all the energy and memories of games and celebrations. I cherish all my experiences at UM, but lining up at the Oval proceeding graduation ceremonies was probably my favorite.
How has your UM education benefited you in your post-college life? The University of Montana has an outstanding faculty of experienced, practical, and dedicated Educators. I am always so proud to hold a degree from the UM because it is a reflection of substance and excellence. In addition, the relationships I built with my Professors and fellow students have made a positive impact in my career and development.
What’s your favorite aspect of serving on the UMAA Board of Directors? It sounds a little cliché, but I have wanted to serve on the Board since my graduation of UM. This is really a dream come true for me to give back to the University that has given me so much. I am so proud of my deep roots at UM, as my Grandparents, my Parents, my Siblings, and my Husband are all UM Grads! I am thrilled to represent them and all the Alumni of the University and so encouraged to spread our good word and action!
Moraine Byrne '78
President and CEO, Moraine Byrne Associates, Inc.
Consultants in the field of aging services
What’s your favorite memory from your time at UM? There are many good memories, but one that stands out was my first day on-air with KUFM radio. It was a time of excitement and fear, and when it was over, I felt very humbled to be part of the KUFM experience representing UM. My father listened to me on that first day and said how proud he was to hear me on the radio. Dad continued to tune in when he knew I was on-air. I later joined the KUFM staff and loved every minute of it, learning and working with the entire team.
How has your UM education benefited you in your post-college life? As a journalism student, I was exposed to a broad, liberal arts education and was encouraged to expand my education through multiple classes, programs and community involvement. That exposure to a broader world-view was especially helpful as I embarked on new experiences while traveling the United States. The confidence which I gained during my undergraduate studies helped guide me as I responded to positive career moves, further education and business opportunities.
What aspects of serving on the UMAA board are you looking forward to most? It’s a privilege to serve as a member of the UMAA Board of Directors and to represent alumni and the University throughout my service tenure. I have served on several committees and have particularly enjoyed the opportunity to chair the Recognition Committee. The Recognition Committee reviews nominations and selects UM Distinguished Alumni annually. We also review applications and select student recipients of Legacy Scholarships. And most recently, we have established a new award called Grizzly of the Last Decade, to recognize graduates who are excelling in their early careers. It is an honor to serve with dedicated board members to make these selections and to carry out the work of the association.
Ken Dunham '70
Executive director, West Coast Lumber & Building Material Association
What’s your favorite memory from your time at UM? Lots of them! This is maybe not a traditional memory item, but I recall the tremendous access I had to the various professors at UM. One might expect good access in your major department, and I certainly did in the School of Journalism, but also in other departments in which I just took classes. Especially beneficial to me were some drama and stagecraft classes. I just enjoyed the contact with the professionals in the department.
How has your UM education benefited you in your post-college life? I transferred into UM as a junior from another unnamed Montana university when I made the decision that being an engineer was not what I wanted to do. Switching majors meant I had some catch-up credits to fill, and I took that opportunity to get a broader education. Who knew several years later, when I was a television news director, I also would use that knowledge to build studio stage sets and do television lighting, as well as present the weather reports better because of my geography classes. I still tell anyone who will listen to me that in college, take unusual and varied classes -- you never know where it will be of value years ahead.
What aspects of serving on the UMAA board are you looking forward to most? It’s hard to say yet. If I can help encourage someone to attend UM and get that broad liberal arts education, that would be great. Many of us wind up in several different careers in our lives, and that more wide-ranging education makes a person more flexible and employable.
Brandon Gebhardt '14
Master of Accountancy
Certified Public Accountant | Fraud Examiner
What’s your favorite memory from your time at UM? On my path to obtaining my Masters of Accountancy degree, I really enjoyed attending office hours with each of my professors as we discussed all of the fascinating topics related to the field of accounting. These conversations gave me a sense of confidence and wonder as I began to take those first steps into my new career. This inspiration led me to obtain my Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, and Certified Fraud Examiner credentials.
How has your UM education benefited you in your post-college life? The top-notch educational training I received from the accounting faculty within the Masters of Accountancy program not only technically prepared me for a very demanding career field, but planted the seeds of life-long passion for my profession. I have carried this infectious enthusiasm with me post-college as I constantly look for ways to continue to improve my knowledge, skills, and expertise. I thoroughly enjoy fulfilling my professional role at work, studying complementary educational books in my free time, and now I am very excited to complete the process of obtaining the Certified in Strategy and Competitive Analysis credential.
What’s your favorite aspect of serving on the UMAA Board of Directors? I am so very proud to serve with such amazing people and to know that my contributions impact our Alumni membership. I am thrilled to help govern this organization in pursuit of ensuring other members can benefit in similar ways that I have benefited. It is especially exciting to participate with our current New Chapter Initiative. It will be quite satisfying in the future to reflect on how my help in creating a Spokane chapter of the UMAA will impact members in the region and lead to sustained organizational growth for the long term.
Denise Evans Grills '80
Business Administration, Computer Science
Greenwood Village, Colorado
Vice president of software development, JD Edwards
What’s your favorite memory from your time at UM? So many … Still in my memory is how the trees looked on the Oval after a frost. Blue skies and the coating of frost on the limbs, with Main Hall and the M in the background, in the early morning before a class when it was quiet. Spectacular.
How has your UM education benefited you in your post-college life? I grew up at UM. My sisters and I were the first in our generation to attend college, and had to support ourselves and each other financially. We did not take our education for granted.
I was on scholarships and maintained my grades and was involved in leadership roles on campus. Although I had a lot of fun, I developed my work ethic at UM. I learned that hard work paid off. My sisters tease me that I used to go to the Liberal Arts Building before midnight on weekends and stay overnight to do my computer science exercises. Once you were in, you could stay all night and the graduate students helped you. Those were the days long before personal computers where you had to go to the computer lab and submit your jobs and wait for them to process. Learning to optimize scarce resources is an important skill in business – even if it did make me a nerd at UM!
Although I was a business and computer science major, my liberal arts classes were really challenging and gave me a love of fiction and the arts that stayed with me. I am grateful to Professor Todd in Humanities, who told me to “not let anyone tell me because I was a woman and a business major that I wasn’t smart.” I work in the software industry for a company headquartered in Silicon Valley and now mentor women in business. Women still need to be given that encouragement today.
What’s your favorite aspect of serving on the UMAA Board of Directors?
After my first year on the board, I am so impressed with the varied experience and knowledge of its directors. By design, the directors are chosen across different majors, class years and geographies. This provides a great range of experience and expertise in the Board’s work. In our Homecoming discussion, we had input from board members with lobbying, military, business, banking, consulting and other expertise. The intelligent level of discussion coupled with a love for UM leads to extraordinary leadership and decisions. I’m also impressed by the amount of time President Engstrom spent with the Board. We had a great deal of his time at our Homecoming meetings and updates during the year.
Ryan Hansen '09, '16
Business Administration/Accounting, Master of Business Administration
Co-founder of LumenAd
What’s your favorite memory from your time at UM? It's difficult to narrow down all of the unforgettable memories into one "favorite". Most of those that surface to the top were a result of my involvement with the UM Advocates. Through events such as new student summer orientations, World's Largest Garage Sales, campus tours, Spring Retreats, Homecoming Parades and countless others, I met lifelong friends (and my wife!) both serving and celebrating the University of Montana.
How has your UM education benefited you in your post-college life? Much of my growth and success post college can be attributed to the liberal arts education i received at UM. Being exposed to diverse ideas and perspectives in courses such as History of Terrorism or Intro to Media Arts, I learned the importance of being able to think creatively and critically.
What’s your favorite aspect of serving on the UMAA Board of Directors? I'm grateful for the opportunity to work with campus and community leaders to further the mission of the Alumni Association specifically and, more broadly, the University of Montana as a whole.
Jennifer L. Hensley '98
Cellular and Molecular Microbiology
Government relations manager, Pacific Source Health Plan
What’s your favorite memory from your time at UM? I remember how it felt when I walked out of my last final, the smell of the warm leaves along Daly as I walked to class in the fall, the excitement of catching a random Frisbee thrown across my path in the Oval one afternoon and being able to fling it back without embarrassing myself, and sitting with a row of my friends in Urey Lecture Hall for a general anthropology lecture. These are all special memories, but my highlight was having my favorite mentor, Dr. Garon Smith, hand me my diploma upon graduation with a hug. I was so proud.
How has your UM education benefited you in your post-college life? I was deliberate about seeking out classes outside of my major, and because of UM's diverse liberal arts offerings, I participated in classes in the humanities, philosophy and dance. My profession today isn't in my field of study in college, but because of my broad educational approach at UM, I have been very successful in my chosen field.
What’s your favorite aspect of serving on the UMAA Board of Directors? Sitting around a table of fascinating, smart, engaged individuals and knowing we are all working together for the good of our University. I learn from my fellow Directors at every meeting.
Will Kellogg '11
Business Administration (International and Finance)
San Francisco, California
Senior Client Services Associate, Cambridge Associates
What’s your favorite memory from your time at UM? One of the many things that stick with me to this day about my time at UM is the energy of the campus. The students' relentless academic pursuits, the wide range of opportunities to get involved, and the unwavering sense of pride in the institution provide a constant vibrancy that permeates the entire campus. That same energy is still there every time I visit UM and I always look forward to experiencing that feeling again when I come back.
How has your UM education benefited you in your post-college life? To say nothing of the rigorous finance curriculum, parts of which I still utilize on an almost daily basis, one of the greatest benefits of my UM education was the passion for learning and challenging myself that my professors instilled within me. Since graduating, this passion has been crucial to my continued professional advancement and personal growth, and has led me to become a more active contributor in my communities.
What’s your favorite aspect of serving on the UMAA Board of Directors? Serving on the UMAA Board allows me to give back to the school and community that has given so much to me. It's a tremendous opportunity to stay connected to the university and to work with other passionate alumni to make the UM experience even better for the Grizzlies of the future.
Kris Kloser '89
Profit Center Manager, Consolidated Electrical Distributors, Inc.
What’s your favorite memory from your time at UM? There is nothing more invigorating than walking down the south side of Daly Street from the Sigma Chi House to campus on a crisp fall morning.
How has your UM education benefited you in your post-college life? The social education and personal development that occurs when you are an engaged member of the micro-society that is the Montana student population is as much a part of the education process as the earned degree. I walked away from UM far more prepared than I realized at the time to forge a successful and rewarding career in the business world.
What’s your favorite aspect of serving on the UMAA Board of Directors? I’m just getting started and looking forward to engaging Seattle area alumni in an effort to give back to UM.
Pete Loftus '84
Political Science, Economics
Markham, Ontario, Canada
Senior Sales Executive, Fijitsu Consulting
Tim McCue '95
What’s your favorite memory from your time at UM? When I was at UM, I used to love to cross/walk the Oval between classes and when i needed to catch up with people. With the camaraderie and neighborliness of the student body made it almost impossible to not catch up with others in the Greek system, UM Advocates, and other peers in different classes. The openness and availability of the faculty and staff members also made for good conversations when doing "the rounds."
How has your UM education benefited you in your post-college life? The diversity of the student population at The University of Montana was paramount in my education. The bio-medical sciences curriculum fully prepared me for medical school. And learning with and around people from different backgrounds was a huge benefit in my working with a variety of patients during and after my medical training.
What’s your favorite aspect of serving on the UMAA Board of Directors? As a new member of the board, I look forward to contributing to the mission of promoting meaningful and lifelong connections between alumni and friends of The University of Montana and each other. Also, as a former head team physician for the UM, I look forward to continuing to connect with Griz Nation in Missoula and beyond.
Sean Morrison '09
English, Economics (J.D. - Harvard)
Attorney, Morrison Law Firm PLLC
What’s your favorite memory from your time at UM? It is impossible to choose, but I do have great memories of serving on the Associated Students of the University of Montana (ASUM). In particular, I remember enjoying the student group presentations to ASUM budget committee members. The presentations, which included things like musical performances and artwork by children enrolled in ASUM Child Care, were a showcase of all the awesome, student-driven things going on at UM. It was the most fun one could ever have on a committee.
How has your UM education benefited you in your post-college life? The University of Montana gave me both the skill-set and self-confidence needed to tackle big challenges and go after big dreams. To put it in more concrete terms, however, UM (both the Honors College and the Economics Department) forced me to write a senior thesis, which was the reason I was hired by the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance and the rest of my career has really grown out of that experience.
What’s your favorite aspect of serving on the UMAA Board of Directors? I have really enjoyed connecting with people who share a passion for UM and its future.
F. Bruce Posey '77
Retired mortgage banker and owner, Streeter Brothers Mortgage Corp.
Kent Price '65, '67
B.A., History and Policital Science; M.A., Russian History
Current chairman of Fluid, Inc., with previous experience in banking, industrial companies, venture capital and high tech
What’s your favorite memory from your time at UM? The nurturing and mentoring that I received from Mel Wren, Burly Miller, Harry Adams, Bob Turner, Oscar Hammon, Vern Snow, and the other wonderful professors who supported me to achieve my potential.
How has your UM education benefited you in your post-college life? I learned to read, write, question and think.
What’s your favorite aspect of serving on the UMAA Board of Directors? Helping to ensure the continued greatness of the wonderful university that has given so much to so many.
Emily Ferguson-Steger '03, '11
Education, Educational Leadership M.Ed.
Director of Undergraduate Admissions
What’s your favorite memory from your time at UM? I have so many amazing memories from my time at UM as a student, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Overall, my most poignant memories include many of UM’s world-class faculty members, who were at one point my professors who through my tenure here on campus became my friends/colleagues. These individuals held the bar higher than I thought I could reach and supported my success while catching me when I stumbled.
How has your UM education benefited you in your post-college life? UM ignited my passion for not only higher education but also for this place we all love…UM
What’s your favorite aspect of serving on the UMAA Board of Directors? As a passionate UM graduate and new member to the board, I am excited to learn about how my voice and experience can not only enhance the amazing work done by this group of diverse and talented people, but to continue to strengthen UM’s connection to proud Griz Alums around the world.
Seth Bodnar, President, University of Montana
Jed Liston, '82, '00 Director, Alumni Relations & President/CEO, UM Alumni Association
Mary Olson, '81, '89 Chair, UM Foundation Board of Trustees
Alex Butler, President, ASUM