MTR 2018-2019: Meet our Team of Judges

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We are honored that these outstanding Montanans have chosen to volunteer their time and expertise to select our state's promising high school entrepreneurs and innovators. We thank them for their service to our youth and to the future of Montana's rural and urban communities.


Kregg Aytes

KREGG AYTES is a faculty member in Montana State University's Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship. He earned Bachelor and Doctoral degrees in Management Information Systems from the University of Arizona and was a Systems Engineer for IBM in Phoenix. After being a faculty member and administrator at Idaho State University, Kregg came to Bozeman to serve as Dean of Jabs College from 2012-2018. Kregg enjoys Montana's diverse outdoor opportunities with his wife, a local educator, two adult children and grandson.


Dan Brunell

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.


Jeff Carpenter

JEFF CARPENTER provides freelance assistance for high tech commercialization, including market research, competitive landscape analysis, tech scouting, due diligence, and patent strategy and monetization through his company, Bird Dog Innovation Strategies. Areas of particular interest are clean technologies, life sciences, food and ag, and new materials from renewable resources. Jeff is a founder and "neat stuff developer" for SkoobLevart, Inc., a speciality travel products company that makes anti-pickpocket products for travelers, and publishes a blog about hidden gems of historical and cultural interest.

Les Craig

LES CRAIG is a Partner at Next Frontier Capital.  He previously served as Executive Director of Montana State University's Innovation Campus and MSU's Blackstone LaunchPad, Co-founder of The Twenty, a data science services company, and Co-founder of RedOwl Analytics, a software company mitigating risk for financial services, cybersecurity and US government. Les mentors with The COMMIT Foundation to assist veterans' transition from active duty. He is grateful to participate in all the outdoor opportunities Bozeman offers with his amazing wife and three beautiful children.

Amy Dardis

AMY DARDIS is an entrepreneur and web strategist. She, along with her husband Josh, own 406 Marketing & Design, a web strategy and design 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

RENEE GAVIN and her husband founded Yellowstone Llamas, the first llama outfitter to lead backcountry treks in Yellowstone National Park.  She subsequently worked for Sea & Adventures, Inc., a Montana firm offering kayaking and marine wildlife watching expeditions in Baja, Mexico, and she has served on the board of directors of several Montana nonprofit organizations. She currently sits on the editorial board of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.


Lorene Hintz

LORENE HINTZ is the Small Business Development Center's Program Manager and Senior 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.


Trevor Huffmaster

TREVOR HUFFMASTER is Director of Montana State University's Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars. He previously served on the founding team of MaternOhio Management Services, a physician practices management organization and spent 15 years in senior IT management roles with leading healthcare institutions, including Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center. Trevor is an alumnus of MIT's Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp, the Executive Program in Social Impact Strategy at the University of Pennsylvania, Ohio State University, and Boston University. In his spare time...chef extraordinaire!

Niles Hushka

NILES HUSHKA has spent his career envisioning, creating and maturing new businesses. As a registered professional engineer and President/CEO of KLJ Solutions Company, he led the growth of what was a local engineering firm into a diversified company of over 850 people. His wide-ranging background includes constructing the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library, serving on the Noridian Health Board and Montana State Chamber Board, and working with BrightStone Venture Capital and Northern Plains Investments.


Dr. Daniel Juliano

DR. DANIEL JULIANO holds a Ph.D. in Physics and is currently Associate Director at Montana State University's TechLink Center, and Director of the MSU Technology Transfer Office. 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.


Lawrie Lieberman

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, where he currently serves on the Gallatin Valley Land Trust Board of Directors.


Liz Marchi

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. Liz is leading the effort to bring the pedagogy of Youth Entrepreneurs to Career & Technical Education (CTE) and Jobs for Montana's Graduates (JMG) classrooms across Montana.

Marissa McDonough

MARISSA McDONOUGH already has two businesses under her belt. After earning a marketing degree from MSU, Marissa started in real estate and quickly became a Partner in Bozeman Broker Group. Seeking an opportunity for greater independence and flexibility to raise her children, Marissa eventually sold her share of BBG and dove fulltime into TeamMD, her next startup that is associated with internationally acclaimed Rodan & Fields. Marissa is a member of Leadership Montana's Class of 2014.


Kathy McLane

KATHY McLANE currently serves as the Community Resource Specialist for Mid-Rivers Communications in Glendive, a broadband cooperative providing Internet, Wi-Fi, telephone, and television services to residential and commercial customers within its service area of 33,000 square miles in Eastern Montana. Kathy learned how politics and government could function for the common good while working for Montana's Senator Conrad Burns and later Congressman Rick Hill. Kathy is also a member of the Montana Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.


Ann Peterson

ANN PETERSON is the Program Manager for the Montana Innovation Partnership (MTIP) powered by MSU TechLink Center where she helps early-stage Montana tech companies compete for federal SBIR/STTR funding. She has over 17 years’ experience in software sales, industry relations, and professional services management helping early-stage, pre-IPO, and public software companies with go-to-market strategies, to increase recurring revenue, and to build strong customer and partner relationships.  She holds a Masters in Mathematics from Montana State University.


Scott Rosenzweig

SCOTT ROSENZWEIG is a business-side technology entrepreneur, executive and angel investor. He was the Principal/Co-founder of Orbit One Communications (now Sierra Wireless) and Sypes Canyon Communications (now Geoforce) and other businesses that design and manufacture satellite/wireless tracking devices and that provide wireless tracking and monitoring services (aka "Internet of Things"). Scott mentors the start-up community, supports local public education and health non-profits, and is currently growing new businesses in the wireless space. He and his family feel lucky to be in Montana.


Diane Smith

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. She serves on for-profit and non-profit boards nationwide.


David Thompson

DAVID THOMPSON is Founder and Principal of Brickhouse Creative, a strategic graphic design and branding agency, based in Bozeman. For over 18 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.