Alumni

Alumni

Board of Directors

Kris Kloser

Kris Kloser '89
Chair

Degree:
Business Administration

Residence:
Seattle, Washington

Profession:
Profit Center Manager, Consolidated Electrical Distributors, Inc.


What’s your favorite memory from your time at UM?
There is nothing more invigorating than walking down the south side of Daly Street from the Sigma Chi House to campus on a crisp fall morning.

How has your UM education benefited you in your post-college life? 
The social education and personal development that occurs when you are an engaged member of the micro-society that is the Montana student population is as much a part of the education process as the earned degree. I walked away from UM far more prepared than I realized at the time to forge a successful and rewarding career in the business world.

What aspects of serving on the UMAA board are you looking forward to most?
I’m just getting started and looking forward to engaging Seattle area alumni in an effort to give back to UM.


Portrait of Erin Billings

Erin Billings '95
Vice Chair

Degree: Master of Arts, Journalism 

Residence: Washington, D.C.

Profession: Public relations/media strategist, Global Strategy Group


What’s your favorite memory from your time at UM? It’s difficult to pick one favorite memory of UM because there were so many – hiking the M, losing my voice screaming at Grizzly football games, walking across campus in the snow. If I had to pick a standout, however, it would be working at the Montana Kaimin, spending so many late nights with other passionate students trying to finish the perfect story and put out a perfect newspaper (and break the news before the Missoulian did).

How has your UM education benefited you in your post-college life? My education at UM set the course for my career. It prepared me in ways I could never have imagined. UM made me a better writer and editor, taught me how to meet and exceed deadlines, communicate to different audiences and conceive and deliver persuasive and compelling arguments. Without a doubt, studying journalism at UM equipped me for a successful and fulfilling career as a political reporter and now as a strategic communications consultant.

What’s your favorite aspect of serving on the UMAA Board of Directors? As a new member of the board, I am looking forward following through on my father’s contributions as a board member and giving back to the University that afforded me so much opportunity. I hope that by working with the UMAA Board in the months ahead, I can help strengthen UM’s national footprint, grow its support from alumni and other stakeholders and build on its already strong brand. This is an important time in UM’s history, and I am excited to work with the board to help keep it on a path of progress.


Directors

Lillian Alvarez '13, '18

Degree: Social Work | Native American Studies, MPA, Law and American Indian Law Certificate

Residency: Harlem

Profession: Attorney

Picture of Vanessa Y. Bucklin

Vanessa Yeager Bucklin '04

Degree: Master of Business Administration

Residence: 
Conrad

Profession: 
Financial Services Professional and Owner of Pondera County Insurance

 

What’s your favorite memory from your time at UM? It's very challenging to pick one favorite, but I would have to say my overall "experience" at UM was one I will never forget! I am incredibly grateful for my time spent at UM - I was an out-of-state student from Idaho but very quickly fell in love with Missoula, Montana and the University. I was fortunate to have worked in the admissions office and become very involved on campus through the UM Advocates and many other student groups where I worked hard, volunteered, had a lot of fun, enjoyed the outdoors and met many of my closest friends in making the most of that experience.

How has your UM education benefited you in your post-college life? My UM education and all-around involvement really gave me a solid foundation as an individual and to build my professional career. I received a great amount of guidance and support from my family, friends, co-workers, supervisors, advisors, etc. along the way, which helped me be successful and where I am today - thank you ALL! I have tried to always pay that forward in my personal and professional endeavors through tutoring, recruiting (professional and UM) and being very active in continued volunteer work for my community and the University.

What’s your favorite aspect of serving on the UMAA Board of Directors? As a new member to the UMAA Board of Directors I am excited to help serve the University of Montana in future efforts and/or directions to help connect, engage and utilize UM Alumni. UMAA currently has lots of positive momentum and I look forward to working with others in pushing those efforts forward with the vision for both the University and UMAA.


Bryan Collette
Bryan Collette '06
Degree:
Business Administration/Accounting

Residence:
Milwaukie, OR

Profession:
Controller, American Metals Corporation

 

What’s your favorite memory from your time at UM? It's very challenging to pick one favorite, but I would have to say my overall "experience" at UM was one I will never forget! I am incredibly grateful for my time spent at UM - I was an out-of-state student from Idaho but very quickly fell in love with Missoula, Montana, and the University. I was fortunate to have worked in the Admissions office and become very involved on campus through the UM Advocates and many other student groups where I worked hard, volunteered, had a lot of fun, enjoyed the outdoors, and met many of my closest friends in making the most of that experience.

How has your UM education benefited you in your post-college life? My UM education and all-around involvement really gave me a solid foundation as an individual and to build my professional career. I received a great amount of guidance and support from my family, friends, co-workers, supervisors, advisors, etc. along the way, which helped me be successful and where I am today - thank you ALL! I have tried to always pay that forward in my personal and professional endeavors through tutoring, recruiting (professional and UM) and being very active in continued volunteer work for my community and the University.

What’s your favorite aspect of serving on the UMAA Board of Directors? As a new member to the UMAA Board of Directors I am excited to help serve the University of Montana in future efforts and/or directions to help connect, engage and utilize UM Alumni. The UMAA currently has lots of positive momentum and I look forward to working with others in pushing those efforts forward with the vision for both the University and the UMAA.


Chris Cordingley
Chris Cordingley '12
Degree:
Political Science/Spanish

Residence:
Washington, DC

Profession:
Senior Associate, Civitas Public Affairs Group

 

What’s your favorite memory from your time at UM? Through participation in intramural activities, from co-rec soccer, to the UM Triathlon team, and even an ill-fated career at innertube water polo, I built a universe of friends across ages, majors, and backgrounds. This provided me with a foundation to build an intersectional community at UM

How has your UM education benefited you in your post-college life? Public education rocks! Through UM, I was exposed to people with every different career goal and coming from many different backgrounds. Meeting people like this informs who I am, how I think, and try to act. Additionally, my senior year thesis project gave me the space to build a thought and see it through.

What’s your favorite aspect of serving on the UMAA Board of Directors? Creating onramps for alumni to reengage in the UM community, tell their stories, and help others along the way. 



Head shot of Ken Dunham
Ken Dunham '70

Degree:

Radio/Television

Residence:
Folsom, California

Profession:
Executive director, West Coast Lumber & Building Material Association


What’s your favorite memory from your time at UM?
Lots of them! This is maybe not a traditional memory item, but I recall the tremendous access I had to the various professors at UM. One might expect good access in your major department, and I certainly did in the School of Journalism, but also in other departments in which I just took classes. Especially beneficial to me were some drama and stagecraft classes. I just enjoyed the contact with the professionals in the department.

How has your UM education benefited you in your post-college life?
I transferred into UM as a junior from another unnamed Montana university when I made the decision that being an engineer was not what I wanted to do. Switching majors meant I had some catch-up credits to fill, and I took that opportunity to get a broader education. Who knew several years later, when I was a television news director, I also would use that knowledge to build studio stage sets and do television lighting, as well as present the weather reports better because of my geography classes. I still tell anyone who will listen to me that in college, take unusual and varied classes -- you never know where it will be of value years ahead.

What aspects of serving on the UMAA board are you looking forward to most?
It’s hard to say yet. If I can help encourage someone to attend UM and get that broad liberal arts education, that would be great. Many of us wind up in several different careers in our lives, and that more wide-ranging education makes a person more flexible and employable.


Picture of Will Kellogg
Will Kellogg '11
Degree:
Business Administration (International and Finance)

Residence:
San Francisco, California

Profession:
Senior Client Services Associate, Cambridge Associates


What’s your favorite memory from your time at UM?
One of the many things that stick with me to this day about my time at UM is the energy of the campus. The students' relentless academic pursuits, the wide range of opportunities to get involved, and the unwavering sense of pride in the institution provide a constant vibrancy that permeates the entire campus. That same energy is still there every time I visit UM and I always look forward to experiencing that feeling again when I come back.

How has your UM education benefited you in your post-college life? To say nothing of the rigorous finance curriculum, parts of which I still utilize on an almost daily basis, one of the greatest benefits of my UM education was the passion for learning and challenging myself that my professors instilled within me. Since graduating, this passion has been crucial to my continued professional advancement and personal growth, and has led me to become a more active contributor in my communities.

What’s your favorite aspect of serving on the UMAA Board of Directors? Serving on the UMAA Board allows me to give back to the school and community that has given so much to me. It's a tremendous opportunity to stay connected to the university and to work with other passionate alumni to make the UM experience even better for the Grizzlies of the future.


Natasha LaRose
Natasha LaRose M.A. '18
Degree:
Anthropology

Residence:
St. Paul, MN

Profession:
Lead, Independent School District 


What’s your favorite memory from your time at UM? 
My favorite memory from my time at UM was when the door opened after my thesis defense. My thesis committee told me I successfully defended my thesis. It was one of the last hurdles before graduation and I was so relieved! I'm not sure if it happens the same in every department, but once you defend, you leave the room so the committee can deliberate on if you've successfully defended your thesis. Then they open the door and break the news to you. It is by far one of the most nerve wracking and memorable moments at UM.

How has your UM education benefited you in your post-college life? My UM education has benefited me in the fact that I am part of a large community of the UM family. UM has become a global community and has a large networking capacity. It feels great to be part of such a large diverse community.

What’s your favorite aspect of serving on the UMAA Board of Directors? I look forward to helping others find their academic path through UM so they can reach their career and life goals. UM's legacy of pride creates a lifetime of memories that carries on through the generations.


Picture of Tim McCue
Tim McCue '95
Degree:
Microbiology

Residence:
Missoula

Profession:
Physician


What’s your favorite memory from your time at UM? 
When I was at UM, I used to love to cross/walk the Oval between classes and when I needed to catch up with people. With the camaraderie and neighborliness of the student body made it almost impossible to not catch up with others in the Greek system, UM Advocates, and other peers in different classes. The openness and availability of the faculty and staff members also made for good conversations when doing "the rounds."

How has your UM education benefited you in your post-college life? The diversity of the student population at The University of Montana was paramount in my education. The bio-medical sciences curriculum fully prepared me for medical school. And learning with and around people from different backgrounds was a huge benefit in my working with a variety of patients during and after my medical training.

What’s your favorite aspect of serving on the UMAA Board of Directors? As a new member of the board, I look forward to contributing to the mission of promoting meaningful and lifelong connections between alumni and friends of The University of Montana and each other. Also, as a former head team physician for the UM, I look forward to continuing to connect with Griz Nation in Missoula and beyond.


Picture of Tom Mellor
Tom Mellor '80
Degree:
Business

Residence:
Bloomington, Illinois

Profession:
Consultant: Braintrust Consulting Group

What’s your favorite memory from your time at UM? Doing "Sea Duty" in the spring with Professor John Wicks on the Clark Fork river starting at Bonner and ending at the campus with a pit stop on "Wild Asparagus Island" near the campus for some much needed biological relief.

How has your UM education benefited you in your post-college life? Kept me from starving!!!

What’s your favorite aspect of serving on the UMAA Board of Directors? It's new and exciting with a chance to contribute and serve with some really great people.And, of course, and opportunity to learn and grow and prove that an "old dog" can learn new tricks.


Picture of Sean Morrison
Sean Morrison '09


Degrees:
English, Economics (J.D. - Harvard)

Residence:
Helena

Profession:
Attorney, Morrison Law Firm PLLC

What’s your favorite memory from your time at UM? It is impossible to choose, but I do have great memories of serving on the Associated Students of the University of Montana (ASUM). In particular, I remember enjoying the student group presentations to ASUM budget committee members. The presentations, which included things like musical performances and artwork by children enrolled in ASUM Child Care, were a showcase of all the awesome, student-driven things going on at UM. It was the most fun one could ever have on a committee.

How has your UM education benefited you in your post-college life? The University of Montana gave me both the skill-set and self-confidence needed to tackle big challenges and go after big dreams. To put it in more concrete terms, however, UM (both the Honors College and the Economics Department) forced me to write a senior thesis, which was the reason I was hired by the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance and the rest of my career has really grown out of that experience.

What’s your favorite aspect of serving on the UMAA Board of Directors? I have really enjoyed connecting with people who share a passion for UM and its future.



Head shot of Jeff Northcutt
Jeff Northcutt '00

Degree:
Business

Residence:
Redmond, Washington

Profession:
Client Service Partner, Slalom Consulting

What’s your favorite memory from your time at UM? This is a tough one, as there are many. What stands out most is the support network I found while in my work-study role in the U of M Human Resources office, and having the opportunity to relate my learnings from my business classes to real-world scenarios on campus. And of course, game days at Washington-Grizzly!

How has your UM education benefited you in your post-college life? The experiential (and often team based) learning opportunities in the College of Business prepared me well on the work front - but without a doubt, the network of UM alum, and the easy friendships that have formed in work and life outside of Missoula.

What’s your favorite aspect of serving on the UMAA Board of Directors? Getting the opportunity to work with others who are passionate about building a community of engaged alumni, in service to our current and future students.



Picture of Josh Peters-McBride
Josh Peters-McBride '09

Degree:
Communication Studies

Residence:
Portland, Oregon

Profession:
Director of Student Life at Portland Community College

What’s your favorite memory from your time at UM? My favorite memory from my time at UM was being a member of the UM Ambassadors program. The program truly solidified my passion for community and service and the importance of giving back. It's a legacy that continues to this day.

How has your UM education benefited you in your post-college life? UM's mission of providing high-quality and accessible education laid the foundation for my love of education and lifelong learning. Because of the quality education that I received at UM, I am able to apply my knowledge and love of students and learning to my work at Portland Community College and serving marginalized communities.

What’s your favorite aspect of serving on the UMAA Board of Directors? My favorite aspect of serving on the UMAA Board of Directors is giving back to the institution that made me who I am today. I can never thank UM enough for all it's given me.



Siri Smillie
Siri Smillie '09

Degrees:
Political Science

Residence:
Arvada, Colorado

Profession:
Policy Director, Education Commission of the States

What’s your favorite memory from your time at UM? There are so many to choose from! Walking across campus with friends in the fall as the yellow and orange leaves fall, summer orientations with the Advocates, ASUM meetings that lasted late into Wednesday nights, grabbing a latte and heading to an 8 AM Constitutional Law class with Professor Lopach… really all these memories revolve around the incredible people of the University – the students, amazing faculty and supportive staff at UM who really bring the campus to life.

How has your UM education benefited you in your post-college life? Much of what I have accomplished in the 10 years since graduating from UM has roots in the liberal arts education I received and the people I met while attending. My political science degree prepared me well for a career in politics and policy, thanks to professors who challenged me to think critically and communicate clearly. The connections I made during my time on campus and through internships continue to prove rewarding -- both personally and professionally. And after moving to Colorado last year, it has been comforting to be able to meet and connect with UM alumni – old friends and new – who live in the Denver Metro area and of course attend the Brawl of the Wild satellite party!

What’s your favorite aspect of serving on the UMAA Board of Directors? I’m looking forward to helping the UMAA board strengthen the network of UM alumni and create new opportunities for connections. I think this is important for recent graduates as they start their post-college lives and careers, but also for alumni who are more established in their careers to have an opportunity to serve as mentors or just reconnect with UM and the thousands of alumni around the world.


Mandy Smoker Broaddus '02

Degrees:
Master of Fine Arts

Residence:
Helena

Profession:
Education Consultant/Poet Laureate

What’s your favorite memory from your time at UM? My favorite memories of UM were all the times I spent in my creative writing workshops, learning from the faculty and discussing poetry with classmates. Having a safe place to be creative, share, develop and grow as a writer was so invaluable. I would not be the writer I am today without those experiences.

How has your UM education benefited you in your post-college life? Because of my time in the MFA program and the relationships I was able to build through UM, I truly feel that I am part of a community of close-knit writers across Montana.  I have appreciated the support over the years from all the friends and colleagues with who I was able to meet and connect through my time in the program. It feels like being a part of an extended family.

What’s your favorite aspect of serving on the UMAA Board of Directors? I look forward to sharing ideas and having great discussions with board members and expanding/diversifying the network of UM alumni across the country. 

 


Picture of Paige Spalding
Paige Spalding '91

Degree:
Business | Education

Residence:
Billings

Profession:
Vice President-Wealth Management Advisor for Merrill Lynch

What’s your favorite memory from your time at UM? The Four seasons of Missoula, University campus life, the Greek system, friends from home, new friends on campus, and sorority life, which I know I spent far more time on than my studies! That being said, I had wonderful professors, great classes, and the opportunity to engage in a smaller setting than I may have otherwise chosen. I get back to Missoula, and I am filled deeply with emotions of taking me back in time and all of the tremendous memories!

How has your UM education benefited you in your post-college life? Graduating with two degrees and a minor, not because I was over-ambitious, but I was a student of my era without clear direction. The perseverance of the experience, the classes, and the desire have completed changed my life! I know without the opportunity to earn a degree, I would not be where I am today. Not just the degree, but the learning experience of working hard, committing to a process, and successfully completing it from beginning to end. I am forever indebted to my professors, U of M, and the relationships with the incredible people I met in college and since! Relationships are what matter to me, and I have so many wonderful friends from my college days. I am only successful due to all of these learned experiences at U of M!

What’s your favorite aspect of serving on the UMAA Board of Directors? I am new, yet I am thrilled to be asked to be a part of the Board. I have a strong desire to give back to humanity and others as was done for me! My education is the core of whom I have become and I KNOW, I could not be where I am today, without my experiences in higher education and my family and friends who believed I could! And for this, I am forever indebted to give back to others! Anything I can do to help lift up my GRIZ, I am in!



Picture of Emily Ferguson-Steger
Emily Ferguson-Steger '03, '11

Degrees:

Education, Educational Leadership M.Ed.

Residence:
Missoula

Profession:
Director of Undergraduate Admissions


What’s your favorite memory from your time at UM?
I have so many amazing memories from my time at UM as a student, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Overall, my most poignant memories include many of UM’s world-class faculty members, who were at one point my professors who through my tenure here on campus became my friends/colleagues. These individuals held the bar higher than I thought I could reach and supported my success while catching me when I stumbled.

How has your UM education benefited you in your post-college life? UM ignited my passion for not only higher education but also for this place we all love…UM

What’s your favorite aspect of serving on the UMAA Board of Directors? As a passionate UM graduate and new member to the board, I am excited to learn about how my voice and experience can not only enhance the amazing work done by this group of diverse and talented people, but to continue to strengthen UM’s connection to proud Griz Alums around the world.



Scott Wheeler
Scott Wheeler '69

Degrees:

History

Residence:
Kalispell

Profession:
U.S. Army - Retired


What’s your favorite memory from your time at UM?
My fondest memory of my undergraduate time at the UM was meeting my future wife. I also have wonderful memories of the incredibly competent and nurturing faculty members from whom I took classes.

How has your UM education benefited you in your post-college life? The UM core curriculum did a great deal to prepare me for my future graduate schooling at UC Berkeley. More important, the courses I was required to take gave me an understanding of math and sciences, history and anthropology, and our intellectual heritage. Such a grounding helped me deal with a complex profession (military) with service in Vietnam, Germany, and the United States.

What’s your favorite aspect of serving on the UMAA Board of Directors? I look forward to serving the Um and its students. I want to give back.