UM Alum Helps Make Missoula Pride a Success

Devin Carpenter speaks onstage at Pride 2022.
Devin Carpenter takes the mic onstage at Missoula Pride festivities. Photo: Dennis Webber Photography

Hundreds of Missoulians braved a steady rain and gathered downtown the first weekend of June for the celebration that is Missoula Pride. Behind the parade, the decorations, the many events and opportunities for connection is a hard-working team that spends months planning and organizing.

University of Montana alum and current UM employee Devin Carpenter plays a big role on that team.   

Carpenter first came to UM as a high school senior. Though he was living in Colorado at the time, his dad was stationed at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls and encouraged Devin to make the trek to Missoula for a campus tour. Carpenter felt an instant connection: “I looked at my parents and said I’m trying really hard to find a reason not to come to school here and I can’t,” he said. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology in 2012, and accepted a position in the admissions office, traveling across eastern Montana, California, Idaho and Utah as a recruiter 

Carpenter left Montana in 2015 to pursue his master’s in higher education at Penn State. Despite having every intention of staying on the east coast, Montana’s pull was just as strong as it had been when he was in high school. “There was an opening back at UM and I came literally straight back to the same desk I had been working at before,” said Carpenter.

Within a few years, he helped transform UM’s new student orientation, creating an award-winning student experience for incoming freshmen.

By 2021, Carpenter had a solid track record for building engaging and unique event experiences, as well as ties to the local Missoula entertainment industry. “I was really involved in the LGBT community through the work I was doing here on campus, and I was really involved in the music scene in downtown Missoula,” he explained. Add in his prior experience working with Big Sky Pride, and Carpenter was the obvious choice to help Pride festivities make a triumphant return to the Garden City. He was hired as co-director of Missoula Pride for 2022.

Planning began early this year and involved dozens of community groups and local businesses, spearheaded by Western Montana Community Center. Carpenter says involvement and support from the community is at the heart of Pride celebrations.  “After a little while, we were like, OK we’ve got the skeleton figured out…now we need to bring in other voices. So, we put out a call to probably 30 community organizations,” said Carpenter. “Pride is so much about the community and there’s so many different identities that need to be represented that there’s no way we could do all of it.”

He encourages anyone who wants to get involved to explore groups offered by the WMCC. “If you’re looking to get involved or to put your time toward something or volunteer toward something that would be a great place to start.” And on campus, Carpenter touts UM’s Lamda student group, responsible for events like the Rainbow Welcome, and the Outfield Alliance for staff and faculty.