PUBLIC POLICY INSTITUTE OF THE ROCKIES
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
Kimberly Dudik has over two decades of experience serving the people of Montana as a lawmaker, attorney, Deputy Gallatin County Attorney, Assistant Montana Attorney General, registered nurse, and advocate for survivors of domestic violence. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Montana State University, Master of Public Health from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Juris Doctorate from the University of Montana School of Law. She is the Past Chairperson for the Montana Legislative Finance Committee, Past Chairperson for the Council of State Governments West, and Past Chairwoman of the National Foundation for Women Legislators. During her eight years as a Montana State Representative, Kimberly led groundbreaking reforms on criminal justice, child welfare, and violence against women. Her leadership has been recognized by receipt of the New Leaders Council Award for Political Leadership, a Women of Excellence Award by the National Foundation for Women Legislators, and the State Government Affairs Council Award.
OUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Háŋ mitákuyepi. Iyúškiŋyaŋ wačhíyakapi. Hohé iá “Winchaxbi Wakan Wiya Ki Um Hawi” emákiyapi ye. Wašíču iá Lillian Alvernaz emákiyapi ye. Oyáte mitháwa kiŋ Sisíthuŋwaŋ ga Waȟpéthuŋwaŋ ga Hohé ga Irish ewíčhakiyapi. Hello my relatives, it is good to see you all. My Nakoda name is Sacred Star Woman Who Sits By The Moon, my given name is Lillian Alvernaz. I come from the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate, Nakoda, and Irish people.
Lillian Alvernaz is the Chief Prosecutor for the Fort Belknap Indian Community. Ms. Alvernaz previously served as the first ever Indigenous Justice Legal Fellow for the ACLU of Montana. Ms. Alvernaz graduated with honors in 2013 from the University of Montana and received a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work and Native American Studies. In 2018, Ms. Alvernaz obtained a Juris Doctor, Indian Law Certificate, and Master of Public Administration. Throughout her social work and legal careers, Ms. Alvernaz has focused on combatting violence against Native women, children, and families. Ms. Alvernaz hopes to help find and fill the gaps left by the marriage of law and policy in Indian Country. Ms. Alvernaz is barred in the state of Montana and is Chair of the Indian Law Section. Ms. Alvernaz enjoys lifting weights, is a Dakhóta and Nakoda language learner, and recently obtained her highest honor as auntie.
Anámayaǧoptaŋpi čha phidámayaye ye. Tókšta akhé wačhíyakapi kte. Henána ephé kte.
Megan Bailey is an innovative mental health clinician with extensive experience in addiction treatment. She has specialized experience in Native American community development and organizing, having worked for the Native American Development Corporation, Western Native Voice, and the Missoula Indian Center. Megan received her Masters in Clinical Social Work from Walla Walla University and her Bachelors in Psychology through the University of Montana with an emphasis/minor in gerontology, human and family development and a double-major in Native American Studies and psychology. Megan is a licensed clinical social worker, licensed addiction counselor, and licensed marriage and family therapist in Montana. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in behavioral health from the University of Arizona.
TWILA OLD COYOTE
Twila Old Coyote is an enrolled member of the Crow Tribe. She is the inaugural director of the SEA Change Initiative. She has worked in higher education for 20 years and has extensive experience working with high school and university students to promote access to higher education, especially for students who come from historically marginalized populations. Prior to SEA Change, she served as the director of TRIO-Upward Bound, a program that builds a college-going culture among underserved and underrepresented high school students. Twila earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in Native American Studies as well as a MA in Intercultural Youth and Family Development, both from the University of Montana. She is a mom to 3 kids, 3 dogs and 1 AARP member.
Sierra has lived in Missoula for about thirteen years and graduated from the University of Montana in 2019 with a Bachelor's degree in Social Work and minor in African-American Studies. While living in Montana as a young Black woman has presented challenges, Sierra has been able to work with organizations as well as individuals who have fostered her passion for social and racial justice. Sierra now works as a Youth Programs Specialist at EmpowerMT where her main focus is to create a youth group for BIPOC youth. In her spare time, Sierra likes to embroider, read, and watch awful reality tv.
Rae Peppers (Whistling Water Woman) is a member of the Crow Tribe and a member of the Whistling Water Clan; she has been married 33 years to Jim Peppers, Northern Cheyenne, has raised four children and resides in Lame Deer, Montana. Rae is committed to public service for all people. She has served 8 years as a State Representative in the Montana State Legislature. Rae successfully led the charge to reform Montana law to better respond to and help with the epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, in particular the reporting of missing children. She is a strong supporter of U.S. military veterans and spearheaded efforts to establish scholarships for Montana Purple Heart recipients. Rae is a business woman and currently owns and operates the H-Diamond Ranch with her husband. Rae graduated from Montana State University-Billings with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a Masters in Communications and Information Systems. She has extensive experience in fiscal management, grant writing and grant management experience. She loves animals, gardening, jogging and is currently pursuing a doctoral degree at the University of Montana.
Born and raised in Missoula, Kelsie has always been passionate about promoting equity and advancing progressive policy in the state of Montana. The daughter of a Union Leader and a long time feminist, Kelsie has been doing activist work in Montana her entire life. Kelsie is the Associate Director of Growth and Development for EmpowerMT, a local nonprofit that promotes inclusivity, diversity, and equity across the state by providing leadership development and communication skill-building to youth and adults. Kelsie graduated from the University of Montana in 2015 with a BA in Communication Studies and a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies. After serving 2 years as an AmeriCorps VISTA member coordinating a tutoring program at Big Sky High School, Kelsie completed an MA in Communication Studies in the Spring of 2019, where she focused on community-building and communicating progressive ideas to conservative audiences. In her spare time, Kelsie enjoys hiking, cycling, reading, getting involved in Montana politics, and being a full-time cat mom.
SHARON STEWART PEREGOY
Sharon Stewart Peregoy has served the people of Montana for multiple legislative sessions, as both a senator and representative, representing Crow Agency, Montana. She has successfully championed many legal changes, especially those concerning education and issues specifically affecting Native Americans, such as the epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. She received a Bachelor of Science from Montana State University and a master's degree in education from City University at Seattle. She has led health efforts as the Director of the Crow Tribal Health Department. Sharon teaches Native American political science at Bighorn Community College. She is an advocate for the revitalization of the Crow language and culture on the Crow Reservation.
Susan Webber represents Glacier County and Browning in the Montana House of Representatives. She is a life-long resident of the Blackfeet Reservation. Susan graduated and earned a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology with a Native American studies minor from the University of Montana, as well as a Master’s degree in public administration, political science, from Montana State University. Susan is an accomplished author, specializing in issues of the Blackfeet Tribe and blood quantum, as well as a business owner and adjunct professor at Blackfeet Community College in the field of Pikunii (Blackfeet) Studies. Susan's first published book in 2020 was "In Search of Blackfeet Identity: A History of Blood Quantum."