Leadership

Leadership 2018-08-01T03:12:03+00:00

Board of Directors

Disability Rights Montana is governed by a statewide, cross-disability, volunteer Board of Directors.  Through personal and professional experiences, the directors represent people with mental illnesses, developmental disabilities, brain injuries, physical disabilities, and visual, and hearing impairments.

The Board reviews the advocacy and legal needs of people with disabilities.  It establishes priorities, policies, and the budget for our organization.  Each year the Board determines the level of resources allocated to individual, systems, and policy advocacy to protect the legal, human, and civil rights of Montanans with disabilities.

The Board of Directors meets quarterly.  The regular full board meetings are generally on Fridays from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and are normally held in Helena, although on occasion are held in different parts of the state.

Click here to download an application for the Board of Directors and send completed applications to Bernie@DisabilityRightsMT.org.

Theresa Baldry

Theresa Baldry

BOD President

Theresa Baldry has been a member of the DRM Board of Directors since January 2015. Theresa believes Protection and Advocacy organizations are essential in the lives of individuals with a disability. She wanted to serve on the DRM Board to both raise her awareness of issues and needs in Montana and ensure the dignity of individuals with disabilities. Theresa was elected President of the DRM Board of Directors in January 2017.

Theresa has worked with Parents Let′s Unite for Kids (PLUK) since 2001, assisting families in gaining knowledge of their rights and supporting them to achieve inclusion and equality. In December 2015, Theresa reduced her hours at PLUK to half-time when she accepted a half-time position in the Transition and Employment Projects at University of Montana Rural Institute as the project coordinator for the Pre-employment Technical Assistance Center.

Theresa is the mother of a son with a disability. Theresa and Isaac have worked together to promote his independence and inclusion in their home community for school, work, and recreation.

Will Warberg

Will Warberg

Board Vice President

Kalispell
Will has been on the Board of Directors of Disability Rights Montana since July 2010. Will currently serves as Vice President. He hopes to utilize his skills and experience to advance the mission of Disability Rights Montana.

Will volunteers because he believes the challenges facing Montanans with disabilities and their families are often complex, intimidating, and frightening. Sometimes they involve unintentional – or even willful – violations of these individuals’ human, legal, and civil rights. It is a terrible thing to fear for the safety and welfare of a family member with a disability, and to feel powerless to help protect them. Will volunteers for Disability Rights Montana because it is often the last and best hope that Montanans with disabilities have to protect their dignity, to exercise self-determination, and to receive equal treatment under the law.

Most importantly, Will is the father of two sons, one of whom is an adult with disabilities. He has recently completed a career in sales and marketing with over 40 years of experience in the forest products industry. Will has a master’s degree in business administration, speaks fluent German, and has traveled extensively. He especially enjoys reading, music, outdoor activities and keeping up with current events.

Tami Hoar

Tami Hoar

Board Member

From a young age growing up around family members with significant disabilities, I have always been passionate that every individual has the right to live as independently as they choose, have the right to engage in their community, have the right to make mistakes, and most importantly deserve dignity and respect. I began my career in human services in junior high as a member of a volunteer youth group that provided recreation activities for adults with developmental disabilities.

That passion grew into a lifelong career beginning as an advocate for the elderly and adults with developmental disabilities. Then working many years for Montana independent living (IL) centers. During my career in IL, I actively participated on numerous work groups and task forces across Montana providing input and direction regarding services that impact people with disabilities. Most recently I served as the Region VIII Representative on the National Council on Independent Living based in Washington, D.C.

I have been married 26 years to Todd Hoar who also has made not only a career, but whole life choice, to advocate for and provide independent life choices and opportunities for people with disabilities to live full, rewarding lives. Our two daughters have also encompassed this passion in their lives. Both have achievements in volunteer and academic awards for promoting independence for people with disabilities. Each has learned first-hand via their own diagnosis’ (one severe anxiety, the other an orthopedic impairment) the impacts of major life activities that many take for granted.

I struggled many years ago with my own diagnosis of depression and anxiety. I soon learned of the invaluable support and emotional stability that diagnosis and proper treatment can bring. Currently as the HR Administrator for Town Pump Corporation, I make a positive impact through training, coaching, and mentoring our managers and staff regarding providing appropriate employee accommodations and other employment related issues. I also still volunteer alongside my husband with the same youth group from junior high!

Donna Gleaves

Donna Gleaves

Board Member

Bio coming soon . . . . .

Travis Hoffman

Travis Hoffman

Board Member

Summit Independent Living Center, Missoula
Travis has been a member of the Board of Directors since January 2008. Travis is a member of the Board’s legislative committee.

Travis first got involved in the disability rights movement as a student at the University of Montana with the student organization, Alliance for Disability and Students of the University of Montana (ADSUM), serving as the group’s president in 2001-02. Also as a student, Travis got involved with the national organization, National Youth Leadership Network, where he served for five years on the organization’s governing board, including a year as the board’s vice president. In 2006, he received a bachelor’s degree of social work from the University of Montana. Currently, Travis works as an advocacy coordinator at Summit Independent Living Center in Missoula.

As a person with a spinal cord injury, Travis knows first hand many of the challenges Montanan’s with disabilities face everyday and works with Disability Rights Montana to pursue it’s mission to protect and advocate for the human, legal, and civil rights of Montanan’s with disabilities while advancing dignity, equality, and self-determination.

Dave Richards

Dave Richards

Secretary/Treasurer

Dave retired as Chief Information Officer from Pacific Steel & Recycling after almost 34 years of employment. He previously served as Pacific’s treasurer for 15 years. The treasurer’s duties at that time included supervising both the accounting and computer departments. In 2000, a decision was made to split the oversight of accounting away from the computer department and Dave decided to lead the computer side of the business. A job he did until his retirement in 2015.

Serving charitable and non-profit organizations in a voluntary capacity was highly recommended at Pacific and this is something that Dave is continuing in his retirement. In addition to the Disabililty Rights of Montana board, Dave is currently serving on the Great Falls Benefis Health System board of directors.

Richards is married to Rebecca Bogden-Richards. He has a son, Nick, from a previous marriage and a daughter with Rebecca, Keira. Keira was born with Cystic Fibrosis and both parents have, since her birth, been trying to learn what can be done to help make her life better. “If, during this process, either of us are lucky enough to assist other individuals improve their quality of life, we will do that.”

Dave, a CPA, graduated from Montana State University with a B.A. in Accounting. Dave was elected Secretary/Treasurer of the DRM Board of Directors in January 2017.

Maryanne Silve

Maryanne Silve

Board Member/PAIMI AC Vice Chair

Dillon, Montana
Maryanne is a member of the Board of Directors. She is also member of the PAIMI Advisory Council and serves as Vice Chair of the Council.

Maryanne was an adult case manager at the Dillon Western Montana Mental Health Office for 15 years until January 2, 2018 when the company closed their rural office. She has experienced first- hand the frustrations of sorting through the complex (and often non-existent) services trying to find help for family members and her clients who are facing mental health problems.

She sees the recent budget cuts causing a crisis for many of the previous clients who depended on the mental health services provided by their office. She daily hears the concerns of other providers in the area who are overloaded and unable to keep up with all the needs of this population.

“Part of the unique legacy our founding fathers left us with was the concept that we must protect the God-given rights of everyone,” Maryanne said, “When we lose sight of that mission, no one will be safe. The most vulnerable people in our society are the elderly, the unborn and the disabled. Without protection and advocacy organizations such as Disability Rights Montana, these people often have no one to advocate for them and cannot afford legal representation.”

Maryanne spent 20 years in geriatrics as the social services/admissions/marketing director in a 105 bed skilled nursing facility. She wrote feature articles for the Montana Standard for ten years under the name Maryanne Davis Silve. Older people and those with special needs were the focus of many of her person profile articles.

Part of the philosophy that drew her to Disability Rights Montana is her belief that we need to empower those who struggle with disabilities. We also need to dispel the myths that surround those challenges and open the doors for these people to be treated with equal respect and opportunity so they may move toward accomplishing their individual goals in life.

Theresa Preite

Theresa Preite

Board Member

Terry Preite has worked in health care for over 40 years. Her focus has been on community programs that support patients returning to home after an acute care stay. Getting her start as a community based social worker; she has been in administration for over 30 years. Terry has worked for Benefis Health System since 1993 and has served as President of Spectrum Medical since 2007. She currently leads regional relationships for Benefis as well, as working with area hospitals to coordinate and improve care in rural Montana. Most recently became President of Benefis Health System Foundation and Pre and Post-Acute Care.

Kathie Waters

Kathie Waters

PAIMI Advisory Council Chair

Kathie Waters is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and is the Mental Health Coordinator at Crossroads Correctional Center in Shelby, MT. Kathie has long advocated for people with mental illness and helped start the Phillips County Local advisory council, serving as Secretary of that board for several years. Kathie has also been active in advocacy and education for Alzheimer’s and Dementia awareness.

Kathie has been on the Board of Directors of Disability Rights Montana since January 2018, after being elected chair of the PAIMI council.  Kathie chose to volunteer for Disability Rights Montana because of the importance of their overall vision and mission, which is in line with her values:

Disability Rights Montana envisions a society where people with disabilities have equality of opportunity and are able to participate fully in community life by exercising choice and self-determination.

The Mission of Disability Rights Montana is to protect and advocate for the human, legal, and civil rights of Montanans with disabilities while advancing dignity, equality, and self-determination.

Kathie lives in Shelby with her husband of 25 years, as they continue to raise their three children, stay involved in church and with extended family.

PAIMI Advisory Council

The PAIMI (Protection & Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness) Advisory Council advises Disability Rights Montana on priorities to be carried out in protecting and advocating the rights of people with mental illness. At least 60% of the members or their family members on the advisory council have received or are receiving mental health services. The members are responsible to educate the public regarding Disability Rights Montana’s purpose, priorities, and activities.

The Council meets four times per year and the full PAIMI Advisory Council meetings are generally on Thursdays from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The meetings usually occur in Helena, although on occasion are held in different parts of the state.

The current PAIMI Advisory Council members are:

Kathie Waters, Advisory Council Chair, Shelby

Maryanne Silve, Advisory Council Vice Chair, Dillon

Janette L. Warner, Advisory Council Secretary/Treasurer, Lewistown

Suzanne Hopkins, Lewistown

Tammy Lincoln, Dillon

Wallace Arney, Dillon

Charles White, Warm Springs

Staff

We work hard to provide high quality services to individuals with disabilities. We follow professional ethics, laws regarding confidentiality, and are trained in disability etiquette.

Click here for employment or volunteer opportunities. 

Bernadette Franks-Ongoy

Bernadette Franks-Ongoy

Executive Director

Bernie manages and oversees the day-to-day activities of Disability Rights Montana. She sets the tone and ensures that our mission of Equality, Liberty, and Justice for All and advocating for equal rights protection for Montanans with disabilities is being accomplished through the work of the staff.

Bernie says it is very rewarding knowing that our work directly makes a difference in the lives of people with disabilities. Every person is entitled to the same legal and civil rights, freedoms, and protections. Disability Rights Montana is actively accomplishing that for people with disabilities. She enjoys going out and doing outreach — talking to people about rights protection and giving them information that supports their desire to live with liberty and self-determination.

Bernie believes people with disabilities need timely, accurate information and quality advocacy and legal representations. She makes sure that happens through our organization.

Bernie was raised by a mom with a disability and a dad who did not realize he was a feminist! She lived in an accessible house before the ADA was made into a law. After all, she says, her mom needed access to all the kids’ room with her wheelchair.

In her rare spare moments, Bernie is an avid cyclist.

She grew up in the sugar plantation town of Waialua, Hawaii. She graduated from Chaminade University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology. She graduated from the University of San Diego School of Law in 1983. Her past legal experience includes: Law Clerk for the First Judicial Circuit Court in Hawaii, Founding Executive Director of the Hawaii Bar Foundation, Deputy Corporation Counsel for the City and County of Honolulu, and the Attorney and Director of Programs for the Protection and Advocacy system in Hawaii. Bernie is licensed to practice law in Hawaii and with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Bernie has served as president of the National Disability Rights Network.

Kelli Kaufman

Kelli Kaufman

Director of Finance

Kelli manages the financial and administrative services of Disability Rights Montana.

She believes in the purpose of our organization and respects the work that our staff does on behalf of individuals with disabilities. Because of the work that they do, Kelli says she has a very fulfilling job.

Kelli has been with Disability Rights Montana since 1998. Prior to her employment with Disability Rights Montana she worked 14 years for a non-profit agency that provides residential and work services for individuals with developmental disabilities. Kelli has extensive knowledge of non-profit accounting and finance.

Kelli says she has been blessed with four wonderful grandchildren as well as a terrific family. She enjoys many outdoor activities that include camping, hiking, hunting, fishing, and riding horses.

Beth Brenneman

Beth Brenneman

Staff Attorney

Beth supervises the Discrimination, Employment, Benefits, and Access Work Unit. She represents individuals with disabilities to challenge discrimination on the basis of their disabilities in the areas of employment, governmental services, and the use of public accommodations. She also supervises our activities to aid beneficiaries of SSI and SSDI, as well as those receiving vocational rehabilitation services.

She enjoys ensuring that the rights of people with disabilities are protected.

Beth began her legal career as the legal director of the ACLU of Montana. She held that position for six years, conducting litigation to fight racial profiling, protect freedom of expression, and challenge the public defender system that did not guarantee quality representation for indigent persons across the state. She also lobbied during the state legislative sessions to defend Montanans’ civil liberties.

During her time at the ACLU of Montana, Beth became familiar with the work of the then Montana Advocacy Program, when she worked with Anita Roessmann on an amicus brief in the seminal case of In the Matter of K.G.F., which established that persons facing involuntary commitment have a right to the effective representation by counsel. She was attracted to the work of the program, and eventually joined the staff in 2004 with the intention of helping clients with disabilities protect their rights to live independently, to be employed, and to be treated fairly by governmental and private entities.

Beth earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and a Juris Doctorate degree, with Honors, from the University of Montana School of Law.

Bridgitt Erickson

Bridgitt Erickson

Staff Attorney

Bridgitt holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she was elected Phi Beta Kappa, and graduated summa cum laude (4.0) in 1985. She earned a Juris Doctorate in 1988 from Creighton University Law School, a private Jesuit University in Omaha, where she began her career prosecuting child abuse and neglect.

After 20 years in trial practice, including both prosecution and defense of death penalty cases, Bridgitt served for six years as the Chief Hearing Officer for the Montana Dept. of Public Health & Human Services. In March 2014, she was appointed to the Federal Register of Administrative Law Judges.

Bridgitt’s knowledge of federal and state regulatory law and processes governing the administration of human services programs now serve DRM as the supervising attorney for DRM’s Abuse & Neglect work unit, which protects people with disabilities from abuse, neglect, isolation, and other violations of their civil rights while they are institutionalized or otherwise placed in state care and custody.

Christine Simonich

Christine Simonich

Advocacy Specialist

Christine is a 3rd generation native Montanan who grew up in Bozeman, Montana. After graduating from high school, she lived in Hollywood, California, for about two years to study Bass Guitar at Musicians Institute. Christine found herself not liking the city life and moved to Helena where she received a BA in Public Administration from Carroll College and she began her career in social services. For the next 25 years she worked with children and adults with disabilities through various community agencies in the Helena area.

In Christine’s free time, she is the owner of Simonich Knives, LLC, where utility knives targeted for military service men and women are produced. She enjoys road trips to soak in the many natural hot springs across the state, loves attending American Indian Ceremonies, and spending time with her loved ones, and her dog, Zulu, and cat, Kudos.

Christine’s life work has led her to become a natural advocate for Veterans, Native Americans, and to those who experience disabilities. She is thrilled to be working at DRM and feels she is ‘at home’ with her position as a Core Services advocate.

Faun Pullin

Faun Pullin

Office Coordinator

Faun coordinates our front office and makes sure everything runs smoothly. She says working with the public is very rewarding. Faun has worked with the disability community for many years. She worked at Helena Industries for more than four years. Her experience working there as a secretary/receptionist and supervisor to the janitorial crews gave her insight on the obstacles that people with disabilities face in that community. That experience lead her to Disability Rights Montana.

After high school in Helena, Faun graduated from the local cosmetology college and studied floral design in Aurora, Colorado. She returned to Helena and became a business owner, operating a local floral shop for 12 years. After a break from the flower business, she went to work at Disability Rights Montana, answering phones and providing administrative support.

Faun enjoys camping with her dog, Ali, in Montana’s great outdoors and says her favorite place is a secret beach on Canyon Ferry. She has many pets, and is an avid collector of elephants (not real ones). She also enjoys fishing, hiking, and working in her yard.

Kathy Hampton

Kathy Hampton

Data Coordinator/Advocacy Specialist

Kathy manages data reporting for Disability Rights Montana, using a nationwide, secure database used by each state’s Protection and Advocacy agency. Kathy also works as an advocacy specialist in the CAP program.

Kathy really enjoys the people at Disability Rights Montana and is very proud of the work our agency does. She helped establish our new facility, making it a happy home for us and for members of the disability community.

Kathy worked previously for 17 years with Montana Legal Services Association. Before that, she worked as an x-ray technician, performing cobalt radiation therapy for cancer patients.

Kathy enjoys working in her yard and being with her yellow lab.

Kathy is from Helena and attended Carroll College and the University of Montana, Helena. She received a Radiology Technician degree from St. Vincent’s School of Radiological Technology; she also trained at the Great Falls Cancer Center in cobalt therapy.

Eva Belatski

Eva Belatski

Advocacy Specialist

Eva is an advocacy specialist for the Discrimination, Employment, Benefits, and Access Work Unit. She advocates on behalf of individuals with disabilities to ensure that their employment rights are being protected, as well as makes sure the legal rights of individuals who are beneficiaries of Social Security are being protected in their efforts to return to work. Additionally, she assists in discrimination cases pertaining to accessibility and public accommodations.

Eva worked as an advocate for Disability Rights Vermont before joining us in 2018. During her time at Disability Rights Vermont, Eva worked to protect individuals with disabilities from abuse, neglect, and other serious rights violations.

Eva earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and graduated magna cum laude from Castleton University in Vermont. She then received a Juris Doctorate degree from Vermont Law School.

When away from work, Eva enjoys being outdoors whether it is exploring new places, going camping in her vintage camper, hiking, canoeing, or biking.

Christa Gabriel

Christa Gabriel

Advocacy Specialist

Photo and bio information coming soon…

Ray Williams

Ray Williams

Paralegal

Ray works with the attorneys at Disability Rights Montana doing research, drafting legal documents, and finalizing briefs for state district court, federal court, and the Supreme Court. Ray previously worked in workers’ compensation, water law adjudication for the Idaho Attorney General’s office, and for the State Bar of Montana. Ray attended Montana State University and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science in 1993 and the Denver Paralegal Institute in 1994.

When Ray was a young child, his father was disabled in an accident which forever changed Ray’s family. There were no advocates for people with disabilities at that time so Ray’s opinion about the need for disability rights is shaped by the struggles experienced by his father and his family.

Ray was born and raised in rural Montana. He enjoys the outdoors, football, and spending time with his family. Ray is also an animal lover and has two beloved dogs.

Roberta Zenker

Roberta Zenker

Staff Attorney

Bobbie is the supervising attorney for the Core Services work unit. As supervisor, she oversees all of the requests for service that come through Disability Rights Montana.

When it comes to work, it is all about the people. Bobbie gets the most from her day when listening and talking with others. Service in little ways and big ways make her tick.

Bobbie has worked in public/human services for all of her professional career, whether in child care treatment or the law, both as a prosecutor and appellate defender. When asked what she brings to the fight, she answers “gloves.” She loves to argue and knows how to fight for people’s rights.

When away from work, Bobbie’s interests are photography, gardening, music (guitar), woodworking, cooking and baking, biking, hiking, and shopping.

Bobbie has a BA in photography and fine arts. She has also done Masters work in child care administration, and in 1992, received a juris doctorate degree from the University of Montana School of Law.

Tal Goldin

Tal Goldin

Staff Attorney

Tal joined DRM’s Education Unit in 2015 after over five years in private practice with an established medium-sized Missoula law firm. Tal’s private practice focused on family law, real estate and small business matters using a variety of dispute resolution methods including mediation, Collaborative Law and litigation. The sibling of an adult with Cerebral Palsy, Tal has a deep understanding of the impact positive support and strong advocacy can have on individuals with disabilities.

A graduate of the University of Montana School of Law (UMSL), Tal enjoyed numerous accolades there, including honorary membership in the Order of Barristers and awards for courtroom and appellate advocacy. Tal served on the Jessup International Law Moot Court Team twice, where his brief on international humanitarian rights was awarded top ten honors in the Pacific Region. Tal was a semi-finalist in the ABA Pacific Region client counseling competition and served on the board of the Student Bar Association. An avid student of constitutional law, Tal engaged in extensive related coursework and was a graduate teaching assistant in the core constitutional law course. Tal co-coached the UMSL Jessup Moot Court Team for three years and has presented at UMSL, continuing education programs, the State Bar of Montana and the Montana Legislature in the area of family law, the Collaborative Law Process and Landlord-Tenant Law. Tal is licensed to practice law in both Montana and Washington.

In the public sector, Tal worked in development and later in prosecution at the Kings County District Attorney’s Office (KCDA) in Brooklyn, New York. Tal served in the KCDA Executive Bureau as a researcher and grant writer for youth alternative-to-incarceration programs and later assisted in prosecuting perpetrators of child abuse and child homicide in the KCDA Crimes Against Children Bureau.

Tal’s experience in project development, design and management, helps him bring a unique, problem solving approach to the practice of law. Prior to his legal career, Tal had an active career as a freelance art director, project manager and scenic/production designer for film, television, theatre and live events. Tal’s design work appeared throughout the U.S. and internationally in projects for MTV Networks (Nickelodeon, Spike TV, MTV, Comedy Central), NBC, ABC, CNN, the McGraw-Hill Companies, on Broadway, at regional theatre companies and in various film festivals. Tal earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree cum laude in Entertainment Design and Technology from the Conservatory of Theatre Arts and Film at the State University of New York (SUNY), Purchase College.

Tal is the past president of the Western Montana Bar Association and a 2013 fellow of the New Leader’s Council. In his spare time, Tal enjoys cooking, playing piano, spending time with his family, and all things Saint Bernard.

Christiane Rudmann

Christiane Rudmann

Advocacy Specialist

Christiane is originally from Germany where she earned a BA/MA in Intercultural Studies. Her research into nonprofit organizations and how they support Native American artists has taken her to Alaska and to the Pacific Northwest for extended periods of time. She moved to Montana full-time in 2014.

Throughout her life, Christiane has worked to create compassion and understanding between people of different backgrounds, always advocating for and speaking up on behalf of people less fortunate. Mental illness in her circle of friends and family has made Christiane utterly aware of the struggles and stigma people with invisible disabilities face on a daily basis. It has led her to encourage her loved ones to seek treatment and to provide support wherever possible.

In her spare time, Christiane can be found exploring the natural beauty of Montana with her husband Steve and their dog Koa, who is in training to become a Psychiatric Service Dog. She loves to work in her yard and to talk at length with her family and friends back in Europe.

Becky Fleming-Siebenaler

Becky Fleming-Siebenaler

Advocacy Specialist

Becky holds a degree in social work from Carroll College-Helena, Montana, where she graduated with honors in 1987. She worked for the Department of Public Health and Human Services in a variety of programs, ending her 30 year career as the Bureau Chief of the Quality Assurance Division’s Licensure Bureau. As the chief of this section, Becky oversaw all regulatory and licensing activities for children’s day care, health care facilities and youth residential/community services.

During her tenure with the Department, Becky was appointed by the US Attorney General to serve a term with the National Crime Prevention Compact Council, where she participated with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in setting policy for the non-justice use of criminal records information. Becky has also contributed to the regulatory field by serving as a member of the Board of Directors for the National Association of Regulatory Administration (NARA), and also as a consultant/trainer for this same organization.

Becky’s knowledge of the federal and state regulatory processes governing the administration of human services programs in Montana along with her strong leadership and advocacy skills will be an asset to DRM. Becky has been assigned to work in the organization’s Abuse and Neglect work unit, which protects people with disabilities from abuse, neglect, isolation, and other violations of their civil rights while they are institutionalized or otherwise placed in state care and custody.