Meet the Presenters
Amy Hall, Attorney
Amy is an attorney with Montana Legal Services Association, a nonprofit based in Helena, that provides civil legal assistance to Montanans statewide who cannot afford private attorneys. Amy graduated from law school in 1990, and has worked in public interest law her entire legal career -- first in Texas, then in Montana. Since 2006, her primary focus has been representing low-income tenants in landlord-tenant disputes throughout Montana.
Bonnie Craigie, Senior Project Developer
Bonnie has more than 20 years of experience in affordable housing as a housing developer, lender and asset manager. Bonnie is certified by National Development Council as a Rental Housing Development Finance Professional and is familiar with Federal, State, and Local funding programs. She has worked collaboratively with non-profit developers to create affordable housing projects, leading projects from concept to completion. In addition, Bonnie provides technical assistance and training to organizations needing assistance who are developing on their own. Bonnie hails from Parker, Colorado where she enjoys kayaking, weight-lifting, and most outdoor activities.
Brandon Bridge, Economist
Brandon is an economist and director of forecasting at the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana. He holds an MA and Ph.D. in economics from the University of New Mexico and a bachelor's degree in economics from Brigham Young University. Brandon's research interests include econometric applications, regional economic modeling, natural resources economics and international development. He has been involved in researching housing markets throughout Montana since 2017.
Cheryl Cohen, Executive Director
Cheryl joined Montana Housing as Operations Manager in October 2018. Ms. Cohen was appointed Executive Director in May 2020. She previously served over 8 years as a Community Development Specialist and Senior Community Development Specialist with the City of Seattle Office of Housing’s multifamily asset management unit. She has over 15 years of affordable housing compliance, property/asset management, and operations experience in the public and non-profit sectors. Ms. Cohen is certified in low income housing tax credit compliance and is a Certified Specialist in HUD Occupancy. She has a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Washington.
Chuck Munson, Assistant Attorney General
Chuck Munson is an Assistant Attorney General at the Montana Department of Justice in its Office of Consumer Protection and Victim Services. He’s been employed at the Montana Department of Justice since October 2009. Before that he served as an AmeriCorps and staff attorney at Montana Legal Services Association with a focus on consumer law for two years. He serves as co-chair of the Eastern Montana Elder Justice Council and is a member of the Montana Elder Justice Task Force and the Montana Attorney General’s Domestic Violence Fatality Review Commission. Chuck also serves on the board of directors of the Montana Financial Education Coalition and is an adjunct professor at the University of Montana’s Alexander Blewett III School of Law, where he teaches Agricultural Law. He has a J.D. and LL.M. in agricultural law from the University of Arkansas.
Ellie Ray, Planner II/Grants Coordinator
Ellie has over six years’ experience in public sector planning. As a planner with the City of Helena, she serves as a housing policy coordinator, grant coordinator, and ADA coordinator in addition to assisting with general municipal planning duties. She was the staff lead on the City’s downtown zoning code update, and has assisted in the formulation and management of the City’s urban renewal districts. She previously worked as a regional planner in Vermont, handling regional and town plan updates, hazard mitigation planning, grant application assistance, and research/policy work associated with a Partnership for Sustainable Communities grant for East Central Vermont.
Hanna Tester, Housing Network Manager
Hanna is NeighborWorks Montana’s Housing Network Manager. She manages the grant compliance for NeighborWorks Montana’s housing counseling grants and facilitates networking within the housing counseling partnership across the state. Hanna’s work is driven by the passion that safe, secure housing is the key for families to prosper.
Heather McMilin, Project Development Director
Born in Belgrade, Montana, Heather grew up in the back room of her family’s grocery store. She spent her years playing outside as much as possible, and watching her family give back to the community she was growing up in. After graduating with a Master of Architecture degree and a Bachelor of Environmental Design from Montana State University, Heather moved to Missoula in 1998 where she worked with several different architectural firms and deepened her understanding of the need for more sustainable building practices in construction and development.
Since joining the Homeword team early 2003, Heather has become a licensed architect as well as received extensive training and experience in sustainable design and the design of homes people can afford. Heather focuses her professional strengths to develop, preserve and shape home creation and development policy across Montana. When she’s not focused on work, Heather continues to enjoy as many Montana outdoor activities as possible.
Jacob Kuntz, Executive Director
Jacob brings his experiences and training as an educator, mediator, home builder, and community organizer to the work of housing. He holds a master’s degree in conflict resolution from Trinity College Dublin and spent several years working as a mediator on education for reconciliation projects in the Middle East and Northern Ireland. Jacob loves that he is able to combine his love of carpentry and non-profit management in his role as Executive Director of Helena Area Habitat for Humanity. Jacob is married to Jessica; they love living and working in Montana communities. Together, they enjoy exploring Montana’s historical sites with their two collies, Rainier and Lambert, named for the cherries raised on his family’s farm in the Flathead valley.
Jennifer Wheeler, Vice President, Commercial Loan Officer
A graduate of Columbia Falls High School, she used her self-earned college money and bought a house at 19 years of age. She started her career at Glacier Bank in 2000 as a processor and worked her way up to a Commercial Loan Officer, a position she has held since 2007. Jennifer was first introduced to LIHTC in 2008 with her first project in Bigfork, MT which showed her first hand the need for sustainable housing and how a safe and healthy home relates to the positive growth of a child and the productively of an adult in the community. With this new found passion for helping to support local families, Jennifer has since closed 27 projects with over 1200 units providing loan funds of over $114 million.
Julie Flynn, Housing Development Program Manager
After starting in the housing world in 2000, Julie Flynn has been back with the Department of Commerce for two years in the Community Development Division working with the HOME, Housing Trust Fund and Community Development Block Grant Programs to help Montana communities address their affordable housing needs. Julie holds a BS in electrical engineering from Montana State University and an MBA from Seattle University and enjoys travelling and recreating with her husband and 15 year old daughter.
Kaia Peterson, Executive Director
Kaia is passionate about the power of Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) creating opportunities for people and communities who wouldn’t otherwise have access to safe, quality homes they can afford. She uses that passion to drive her work in overseeing the education and counseling program, resident-ownership, and marketing and outreach efforts at NeighborWorks Montana. Kaia has a BA from Bates College and an MBA from the University of Washington, and is a member of the Missoula Housing Authority and the Providence St. Patrick Hospital Western Montana Service Area Community Ministry Boards.
Katie Sadowski, Financial Educator
Katie's enthusiasm for financial skill building began with her B.S. in Accounting from the University of Oregon. Her professional experience before working with Homeword included 10 years in tax preparation and outdoor education. Katie uses her training in experiential education to make finances come alive for her students. She is an active Enrolled Agent and is pursuing her Certified Financial Planner designation. Her goal with working at Homeword is to spread financial judgement so Missoulians can navigate their current financial world and advocate for their future.
Libby Starling, Community Development Manager
Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
Libby is the Community Development Manager of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. In this work, she leads the Minneapolis Fed’s efforts to promote policy supporting housing affordability as part of its work advancing the economic resilience of low- to moderate-income individuals and communities across the Ninth Federal Reserve District. Prior to joining the Fed in 2019, Ms. Starling was the Deputy Director of the Community Development Division at the Metropolitan Council, the Twin Cities’ regional planning agency, where she led the creation of the region’s 2040 Housing Policy Plan. Previously, she was previously the Director of Research and Evaluation for the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency. A native of central Pennsylvania, Ms. Starling holds a Master’s of Planning in Public Affairs degree from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.
Ted Madden, Chief Operating Officer
Ted leads the Foundation’s investments, financials, and operations. He also manages the Partnerships for Better Health focus area. Ted brings over 20 years of nonprofit foundation and health care administrative experience to his position at the Foundation. He served as the executive director at the Park County Community Foundation, the founding chief financial officer of Community Health Partners, and assistant to the treasurer and subsidized housing director at the Wilder Foundation in St. Paul Minnesota.
Ted received his bachelor’s degree in accounting and master’s in business administration from the University of Minnesota. He currently serves as the chairman of the board of the Livingston School District and serves on the board of a private foundation in St. Paul, Minnesota. He lives in Livingston with his wife and three children.
Tonya Plummer, CDFI, Banking Business Development Officer
Tonya directs an emerging Native CDFI based on the Fort Belknap reservation, focused on building capacity for increased Native homeownership in Montana. An enrolled member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, Tonya was born in Glasgow, Montana with Sioux, Assiniboine and Cree blood and deep roots in the Fort Belknap Indian Community. For the past 12 years, while working in all sides of the mortgage process and receiving designation as an FHA-DE certified underwriter, she has worked with the children of Fort Belknap Indian Community, including her own 4 children, teaching stories and writing music and song for cultural kids camps. She is fiercely committed to a culturally empowered rise in native homeownership and the delicate and deliberate weaving of traditional cultural values with 21st century economy to build strength, wisdom and unbreakable resilience in Native homes for the coming generations.
Traci Clark, Medicaid Reform Initiative Specialist
Traci has served in various roles during 16 years with the Department including protective services, advocacy for seniors and those with disabilities in long term care facilities, grants management, and project management. She comes from a long lineage of military service members and understands firsthand the demands and rewards of military commitments. She has operated a daycare and worked in the fields of banking and insurance. She is the proud Mom to two grown daughters and recently added “Grandma” to her list of titles. In every one of these roles, affordable, accessible housing has been a need for self and others. Her call to serve led to a B.A. in Social Work from the University of Montana.
Tyson O'Connell, Principal
Tyson joined the principals of Wishcamper Partners in 2011 and manages the company’s more complex tax credit rehabilitation projects. Prior to that, Tyson practiced law at Garlington, Lohn & Robinson in Missoula, where his practice included real estate and litigation.
Tyson holds a Bachelor’s degree with a double major in Economics and Sociology from Macalester College and received his Law degree with honors from the University of Montana School of Law.
Zoe Barnard, Administrator
Zoe is the Administrator of the Addictive and Mental Disorders Division at the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services. Her responsibilities include oversight of three facilities as well as publicly funded prevention and treatment programs for substance use disorder and mental health. Prior to coming to the State of Montana, Ms. Barnard worked in and oversaw treatment programs in Montana. She has a graduate degree in public policy from the University of Colorado at Boulder.