We are sincerely grateful that these outstanding Montanans have chosen to volunteer their time and expertise to select our state's most promising high school business innovators. We thank them for their service to our youth and to the future of Montana's rural and urban communities.
DON BEEMAN has over 35 years experience in the pharmaceutical and vaccine industry. Most recently he served as CEO of LigoCyte Pharmaceuticals, a local biotech company, now known as Takeda Vaccines. He is Past President of the Montana BioScience Alliance. Don is a community member of the Bozeman Chronicle Editorial Board.
DAN BRUNELL is the Operations Director for the Montana Chamber of Commerce, where he manages financial planning, human resources, member programs, and the Chamber’s 10-year strategic plan – Envision 2026. Before joining the Chamber, Dan ran his own communications and strategic planning company, Brunell Creative, and spent 13 years as the New Media Manager for the Association of Washington Business, that state's Chamber.
CHRIS DAHL is Vice President of Technology at Bozeman-based Foundant Technologies. Since its creation in 2006, Foundant has focused on maximizing the impact of the philanthropic community by providing SaaS solutions to grantmakers, grantseekers, and community foundations. Chris helps lead Foundant's product management team, and he manages the software development efforts of Foundant's SaaS solutions. He is a 2016 graduate of Leadership Montana.
AMY DARDIS is an entrepreneur, marketing strategist, website consultant and speaker. She, along with her husband Josh, own 406 Marketing & Design, a web design and digital marketing company based in Great Falls, MT. Amy is passionate about inspiring and encouraging others. She believes everyone is significant and has a fascinating story to tell. She loves to listen, learn and ask a ton of questions!
RENEE GAVIN works for Polar Bears International in development and fundraising. She and her husband founded Yellowstone Llamas, the first llama outfitter to lead backcountry treks in Yellowstone National Park and subsequently worked for Sea & Adventures, Inc., a Montana firm offering kayaking and whale watching expeditions in Mexico. She has served on the board of directors of several Montana nonprofit organizations and currently sits on the editorial board of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.
BOBBI GEISE is the founder and owner of Learning By Nature, LLC, a design-build natural playground business and Montana distributor for Freenotes outdoor musical instruments. Prior to this, she spent 16 years as the Executive Director for various statewide and regional nonprofits in Montana. Included are: Montana Raptor Conservation Center, Cancer Family Network and founding director of Montana Outdoor Science School.
ANDRE GILES graduated from Havre High School and studied at the University of Texas-Austin and Utah State University before eventually becoming owner and CEO of Montana Flour & Grains in Fort Benton, a domestic and international distributor of certified organic and conventional grains. André and his wife, Karyn, have four children. He has coached baseball and wrestling, been a scoutmaster, and enjoys helping rural youth believe they can pursue their dreams anywhere in the world.
JENNI GRAFF is the Economic Development Director at Missoula Economic Partnership, an organization that connects high-growth businesses with the programs, resources, and people to accelerate their success. Jenni has an MBA from the University of Montana and experience in marketing, and communications, including a stint with a regional healthcare system with over fifty hospitals and 800 clinics.
LORENE HINTZ is the Small Business Development Center's Business Advisor at Big Sky Economic Development in Billings. She previously served as the SBDC Regional Director at Great Northern Development Corporation in Wolf Point. Prior to working as an Accredited Small Business Consultant, Lorene owned and managed a women's retail business for 16 years, where she learned first-hand about the needs and challenges facing Montana's entrepreneurs.
DR. DANIEL JULIANO holds a Ph.D. in Physics and is currently Associate Director of Montana State University's TechLink Center. His previous experience includes 16 years of technology development in Silicon Valley, during which time he was granted more than 20 U.S. patents. Before joining MSU, Dr. Juliano served on the executive staff at MiaSolé, a manufacturer of flexible and lightweight thin film solar panels.
JON LEACH is a co-founder of Loenbro, based in Black Eagle. After graduating from Simms High School in 1998, Jon and brother Paul started a small welding business that grew into a national company with 700 employees and operations in 20 states. Loenbro provides diversified services to mining, power, energy, and manufacturing industries. Believing that success is to be shared, Loenbro supports Great Falls community programs and instituted Loenbro's Do Good Friday and the Loenbro Employee Assistance Fund to help employees in times of hardship.
LAWRIE LIEBERMAN served as Dean of Admissions for Stanford University's Graduate School of Business before doing mergers and acquisitions, strategic partnering, venture and debt financing with Apple Computer. He also served as Senior Group Vice President of Business Objects, a software enterprise firm that was acquired by SAP. Lawrie volunteered as Chair of the Desert Research Institute Foundation in Nevada before moving to Bozeman.
LIZ MARCHI is founder of Frontier Angel Fund 2 and co-founder of Northfork Strategies. She has a background in legislative and policy issues concerning business development at state and federal levels. Liz served as President of Montana Ambassadors, Trustee of Hollins University and President and CEO of Montana West Economic Development and Flathead County Port Authority. She was named Woman to Woman Mentor of the Year by MSU and Prospera Business Network. She and her husband raise Wagyu and Angus cattle in Polson.
ALICIA MOE is Principal Owner and General Manager of Cream of the West, a manufacturing business that has been adding value to Montana agricultural products since 1914. The company makes wholesome, healthy whole-grain hot cereals and mixes. In 2002 the company moved to Harlowton because Alicia and her partners wanted to bolster the economy of their rural community.
WILL PRICE is Managing Partner of the venture capital firm Next Frontier Capital. Earlier in his career Will worked for Morgan Stanley in NYC, Hong Kong, and the ASEAN markets where he focused on the privatization of state-owned assets. Prior to Next Frontier Capital, Will served as CEO of a firm that was acquired by the parent company of SnapChat. Will sits on the boards of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition and Gallatin Valley Land Trust.
DIANE SMITH is Founder and CEO of Whitefish-based American Rural. She is an entrepreneur, attorney, policy expert, angel investor, and writer with extensive background in start-up companies and new industries. Diane left the Fortune 500 world to foster rural and small town opportunity and advises businesses and policymakers on matters relating to technology and entrepreneurship. Diane is active with the Montana Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs.
DAVID THOMPSON is Founder and Principal of Brickhouse Creative, a strategic graphic design and branding agency, based in Bozeman. For over 17 years, the team at Brickhouse has helped launch and grow numerous brands, specializing in communicating the unique attributes of the outdoors and related fields. Beyond Brickhouse, David is a published outdoor photographer, and has enjoyed past national recognition as a songwriter and musician.