Executive Member Bios
Mrs. Smith has more than fourteen years of management experience working with not-for-profit healthcare systems. She has extensive knowledge of nursing, public health, emergency preparedness, business planning, operations management and management control systems, contract administration, health economics, and financial reporting and analysis. Mrs. Smith s experience includes three years of service as the Bullhook Community Health Center’s Executive Director in Havre, MT, seven years with Hill County Health Department as the Executive Director, and four years as the Charge Nurse in the Transitional Care Unit for Northern Montana Hospital.
Mrs. Smith earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Healthcare Administration in August of 2009, graduated from the UCLA/Johnson & Johnson Healthcare Executive Program in July of 2009, and earned her Associate’s Degree in Nursing in May of 1996. Mrs. Smith is also a licensed Registered Nurse in Montana and earned her Associate Degree from Montana State University Northern.
In addition to Mrs. Smith’s extensive experience, she is also an active system partner with the following organizations:
- National Association of Community Health Centers
- Montana Primary Care Association
- Community Health Association of Mountain Plain States
- Hill County Early Childhood Investment Team
- North Central Montana Transit Authority
- Hill County Local Advisory Committee
Andrea Lower has worked for 18 years in the criminal justice system in Gallatin County. First working for the Sheriffs Office at the Detention Center and currently as the Pretrial Services supervisor. She also serves as an advocate member of the LAC. Andrea has her Bachelors of Science in Sociology from Montana State University. Andrea is a Certified Pretrial Services Professional and POST Certified as a Pretrial Officer for the State of Montana. Andrea is a life long resident of Montana. She lives in Bozeman with her husband Rick and three children Cole, Garrett and Bailey.
Since my early retirement, I have dedicated my time to advocating for persons living with mental illness who because of their illness are unable to advocate for themselves. For me, advocacy is a ministry of life and a passion. Here is a highlight of my activities in rough chronological order:
- Served on a Bozeman deaconess Hospital task force to identify mental health resources and nees in the community and devise a plan for services;
- Chairman of NAMI-Bozeman (12 yrs);
- Member of the Mental Health Oversight Advisory Committee MHOAC (9yrs);
- Chairman of the MHOAC Committee which conceptualized and initiated Service Area Authorities (2 yrs);
- Organized and conducted Community meetings to introduce and plan for the creation of Service Area Authorities (1.5 yrs);
- Served as a member of the constituting board of directors of the Central Service Area Authority (approx 2 yrs);
- Vice Chair of the Central Service Area (2 yrs);
- Chair of the Central Service Area Authority (2yrs);
- Charter member of the Gallatin County Mental Health Local Advisory Council (10 yrs);
- Collaborated with DPHHS and AMDD in support of funding for community services, crisis services, 72 Hour Presumptive Eligibility, increased funding for MHSP, and more (4 legislative sessions);
- AMDD Task Force for BHIF and Crisis Facility Rule Making;
- Construciton Team Member for a 5 acre Mental Health Campus in Bozeman, including an 11 bed crisis stabilization facility, a four unit independent living unit for persons living with mental illness, an Out-Patient Facility, and the Consumer-Run “Open Arms” Drop-In Center (12 yrs in concept development, fund-raising, and planning, about 2 yrs in design and construction);
- Participated in and subsidized, through NAMI-Bozeman, the CIT Program in Gallatin County. The prgram conducted three 40 hr classes and graduated 84 Officers since April 2009. All graduates are certified through MTPOST (Mt Police Officers Standards and Testing) through the MT Law Enforcement Academy (3 yrs).
Board Member Bios
Michelle Hill is the Director of Rural Services for the Center for Mental Health and manages offices in Blaine, Hill, Glacier, Pondera, Teton, and Toole Counties. She joined the Center in 2003 as an In-Home Behavior Specialist. While completing her master’s degree in counseling she gained experience as an in-training practitioner in In-Home Therapeutic Services, Family Based Services, School Based Services, and Outpatient Therapy. Before becoming the Director of Rural Services in April of 2014, Michelle had experience supervising In-Home Therapeutic Service, Children’s Case Management, Children’s Therapeutic Aids, and Comprehensive School and Community Treatment (CSCT).
Michelle received her undergraduate degree in Psychology with a minor in English Literature from Montana State University, Bozeman (2001) and her Master of Science in Counseling Degree from the University of Great Falls, in Great Falls, MT (2004). She is currently working to earn her Doctorate in Counselor Education and Supervision from Walden University.
Michelle joined the CSAA because of her dedication to the population she serves and to work as a team towards addressing issues that effect mentally ill individuals in north central Montana.
Michelle grew up in the bustling city of Billings, MT. She currently lives in Great Falls with her husband and furry four-legged children and enjoys traveling, reading, and camping.
I’m Rodger McConnell.I grew up in So Cal. Ten years after I got home from Vietnam, I hitchhiked to Montana from Arkansas, planning to make my home somewhere near Yellowstone Park. Thirteen years later, I graduated from Carroll College with an elementary ed degree and a special ed endorsement. I taught elementary and middle school special ed for 13 years in Cascade. Since retiring, I have become a very active volunteer in the Great Falls area for anything veteran and a few things not. Some highlights—I got involved raising funds for our beautiful veterans memorial early on in that enterprise; I have driven the DAV van for several years; am the president of the VETS4VETS group that sponsors the annual veterans standdowns in Great Falls- now in it’s eighth year; I’m in my fifth (?-fourth?) year hosting a bi-monthly 30 minute talk show on public radio called ON POINT: VETERANS TALK RADIO where I have enjoyed interviewing so many, many incredible people with truly heroic stories; I’m the new Great Falls Vet Court’s mentor supervisor under Judge Greg Pinski; I have worked Big Brother/Big Sisters, Special Olympics, The Beautiful Minds Walk for seven years; am a spokesperson for ANGELS IN CAMO for KRTV, have mentored for at-risk high school students, and am a member of the Uptown Optimist Club in Great Falls. I recently had to put down my semi-loyal little pug dog, Bugs, and now live quietly with my cat, Osama, who in her earlier years, taught Bin Laden everything he knew about terrorism.
- Helena native
- Attended local elementary and high school Carroll College graduate (BA 1964). Married Helen Cronin in 1964. Three grown children
- With my spouse as business partner enjoyed operating various businesses in the greater Helena community. Business:
- Former Owner (sold 1996) – Al’s Poultry Farm, Helena Valley
- Former Owner (sold 1991) – Action Print
- Current owner Helena Time and Temperature (442-1730)
- Experienced in handling government funds and working with governmental agencies. Past Administrator of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division. In this position, I was responsible for establishing the treatment/rehabilitation network now in place throughout Montana.
- Executive Director of Rocky Mountain Development Council. First director of Head Start in Helena and was instrumental in starting the County Family Planning Program and many of the existing Senior Citizen Programs including Helena Senior Center and Daily Dinner Club, Foster Grandparents.
- Lewis and Clark County Commissioner Chairman, FY 95, 98, 2001, 2004 and 2007
- Helena City Commissioner 1960
- Montana CEP Private Industry Council Vice Chair, 9 Years
- St. Helena Cathedral Parish Council Chairman, 2 Terms
- Downtown Helena, Inc., past president
- Past Chairman Knights of Columbus, 4th Degree
- Member Ancient Order of Hibernians
- Member Helena Chamber of Commerce
- Member and Former Chairman of Board, Rocky Mountain Development Council
In November of year 2013 I was voted by the Board Members of the CSAA, I will be representing Park County. I have lived in Livingston, Montana for fifteen years. I have been active in volunteering most my life, student council, Military Service career and Prescott Frontier Days Inc. and the 2008 Central Service Area Authority board. I like to be pretty active to what goes on within our communities and in our state of Montana. Keeping up with the local happenings from Art, Music, and recreation of nature trails. I’m passionate about the preserving of our state nature wild lands, Mountain and trails for our children to enjoy, so I have been active Member of Montana Wilderness Association for Livingston area since year 2004. I have a strong believe equality for every person on this planet, and proud to be working in a helping hand for our veterans.
I joined the Center for Mental Health in 2002 as a children’s case manager. While completing my master’s degree in counseling I had an abundant set of opportunities as an in-training practitioner to gain experience in Family Based Services, School Based Services, Outpatient Therapy, and Marriage Counseling. In 2003, I was hired as a Comprehensive School and Community Treatment (CSCT) Therapist and obtained licensure as a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor in 2005. In 2009, I moved to be the Supervisor of the CSCT Program. In December 2011 I was hired as the Director of Family and Adult Services and in March 2014 I gained the role in my current position as the Area Director of Services — Great Falls, MT. This grand totals my time with the Center to almost 13 years this July.
I received my undergraduate degree in biology and psychology from Carroll College in Helena, MT (2000) and my Master of Science in Counseling Degree from the University of Great Falls, in Great Falls, MT (2003).
I grew up in small town life of Stanford, MT, the daughter of a beekeeper. I currently live in Great Falls with my husband of 15 years and two daughters. I am also very fortunate to have my mother, brother and his family just blocks away.
*The Area Director of Services — Great Falls supervises: Outpatient Therapy, Veteran’s Services, CSCT, In-Home Family Services, Case Management, Therapeutic Aid Services, Adult Foster Care Homes, Adult Group Homes, PACT, Day Treatment, Supported Employment and all Secretarial Support Staff in the Great Falls area.
Local Advisory Council (LAC) Reps
Shirley Kaufman – Gallatin County
Born; Bozeman MT 1950. Education: Montana State University 1972 BS & BA Degree Education-1973-2012 Chicago (Adverting/marketing). 2012 retired to Montana. I volunteered for the position to advocate for mental health in Montana bringing my knowledge and experience from Illinois having a family member diagnosed with mental illness 15 years ago. I have worked with various psych facilities / group homes/ etc. as a volunteer foster parent for 2 girls with Allendale Home for Children (Allendale.org) I also can bring that experience to the table.
Aneta Jones – Havre LAC Alternative
Lenore Stiffarm – Ft. Belknap
Dr. Lenore A. Stiffarm is an enrolled A’s I nin (White Clay) from the Fort Belknap Reservation, Montana, with Nakota and Kainai ancestry. She writes using her ancestral names of Na Gya Tha, A Hock Nack Itha and Bo Dock ee. She is the mother to three gifted human beings; White Moon, Thay Wus and Medicine Eagle. Lenore is the sole proprietor of Dry Lake Associates and serves as an independent consultant. Her undergraduate work in education was at the University of Montana, Missoula, MT; she received three degrees from Harvard University: an M. Ed. in 1976; a Certificate of Advanced Study, 1977; and a Doctor of Education (Ed. D.) in 1980. Her doctoral requirements were fulfilled in the area of “Managing Change in Boston School System; An Examination of Criteria for School Closings in Boston, September 1978- December 1979.” Her research and publishing interests include demography, discrimination and inequality, racism, historical and inter-generational healing and wellness, spirit writing, healing and wellness circles, curriculum development, health disparities with an emphasis on mental health, co-occurring disorders, substance abuse, spirit writing, and healing circles. Dr. Stiffarm holds extensive knowledge and has presented papers, published and conducted workshops in the areas of Aboriginal parenting, indigenous knowledge, multi-generational grieving, healing, cultural competency, wellness as it relates to indigenous people who have been affected by the process. Dr. Stiffarm completed two terms serving as Chair, Central Service Area Authority. She serves as Advisory Committee Member with the Mental Health Oversight Advisory Committee (MHOAC) as well. She is an advocate for wellness.
I have been a staff attorney at Disability Rights Montana since 1998. DRM is a private, non-profit protection, advocacy and civil rights organization for people with disabilities. We are the official protection and advocacy system for the State of Montana, as required by federal law. I got involved with the SAA movement kind of accidentally 10 years ago, after the failure of mental health managed care. I kind of stumbled into my first meeting, but I could tell that something exciting was happening. A decade later, I am still excited by the growth of the consumer movement in Montana, and DRM remains committed to supporting consumers exert their leadership effectively through the SAA’s, LAC’s and as individuals who are working towards transformation of the mental health system and our communities.
Children’s Bureau Liaison
CSAA Fiduciary Agent
Peter, Western Montana Mental Health Center