Public Service Academy Faculty
Dr. Christina Barsky
Assistant Professor of Public Administration
University of Montana
Christina Barsky teaches courses on election administration, state and local government, poverty policy, research methods, public budgeting, nonprofit administration, and American government. She is an assistant professor in the Baucus Institute Department of Public Administration and Policy where she serves as the faculty advisor for the University of Montana Chapter of Pi Alpha Alpha. Her research focuses on election administration and administrators as well as themes surrounding representative bureaucracy and front-line workers. In 2020, Christina was appointed to the Missoula County Election Advisory Committee. Previously, Christina spent more than a decade leading transformative change efforts across the Western U.S. in her roles with a premier public affairs firm and a regional nonprofit collaborative.
Missoula Public Library
Honore Bray has been the Director of Missoula Public Library for the past 16 years. She holds a MLIS from the University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana. The Missoula Public Library project has been an interesting mix of public and private money used to build a multi-use building with a library as the grounding unit and other nonprofit agencies to augment community programing. MPL was modeled after the Swedish Cultural Houses. University of Montana Living Lab, spectrUM Discovery Area, Families First Learning Lab and MCAT join the library to round out a great cultural experience.
Jamar Galbreath (He/Him/His) is a husband, father, son, brother, father, uncle, nephew, cousin, and more to a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, diasporic family. He puts these identities ahead of any credentials as a constant reminder that the work that he does reflective of and in honor of them. As the Equity Coordinator with Missoula County Jamar works to build organizational culture within Missoula County by centering justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in County principles, values, strategies, and operations. He brings multidisciplinary professional and educational backgrounds in higher education, ethnic studies, research and assessment, and counseling, and is a Society of Human Resources Management Certified Professional.
Professor of Law
University of Montana
Anthony Johnstone is the Helen and David Mason Professor of Law and an affiliated Professor of Public Administration at the University of Montana's Blewett School of Law. He teaches and writes about Federal and State Constitutional Law, Legislation, Election Law, Jurisprudence, and related subjects. Professor Johnstone's scholarship has been cited more than one hundred times by judges, scholars, and practitioners. He has served as counsel in more than two dozen published cases in state and federal courts, including petition-stage or merit-stage briefs for six cases at the Supreme Court of the United States. His legal work has been featured in the The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The National Law Journal, and he has testified before the United States Senate Judiciary Committee and the Montana Legislature. Before joining the School of Law, Professor Johnstone served as the Solicitor for the State of Montana, practiced litigation as an associate at Cravath, Swaine & Moore in New York, New York, and clerked for the Honorable Sidney R. Thomas, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He holds a B.A. from Yale University and a J.D. with honors from the University of Chicago Law School
MT State Workforce Innovation Board
Shannon Lewis is a dedicated public servant who has served the citizens of Montana in a variety of capacities at both the state and federal level. Throughout her tenure within the public and nonprofit sectors she’s been recognized as a statewide and national leader on rural workforce and talent development and the collaborative nature of her work has made her a leader and committed partner on issues important to Montanans.
Dr. Sean McCandless
Assistant Professor & Director, Dept. of Public Admin
University of Illinois Springfield
Dr. Sean McCandless works as an assistant professor and doctoral associate director at the Department of Public Administration of the University of Illinois Springfield. His research centers on social equity. With Dr. Mary E. Guy, he is co-editor of the volume, Achieving Social Equity: From Problems to Solutions.
Montana Budget & Policy Center
As Deputy Director, Preston (he/him/his) spearheads MBPC’s efforts to advance equity and inclusion across all facets of the organization’s work. He also leads MBPC’s State-Tribal Policy research and outreach, where he focuses on the impacts on Indian Country of state policies and budget decisions. In all areas of his work, Preston centers racial equity, tribal sovereignty, and economic justice. Prior to joining MBPC, Preston worked in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors on a variety of issues, including environmental justice, health equity, and LGBTQ+ rights. Originally from Michigan, Preston is a citizen of the Bay Mills Indian Community and grew up on the Bay Mills Indian Reservation. He holds a master’s degree in public policy and a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies, both from the University of Michigan.
Dr. Rachel Severson
Associate Professor & Director of the UM Living Lab
University of Montana
Dr. Rachel Severson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at University of Montana and Director of the University of Montana Living Lab. The UM Living Lab was created through a partnership with the City of Missoula, University of Montana, and the Missoula Public Library and funded by a Science Education Partnership Award through the National Institutes of Health to engage the public with research and inspire the next generation in STEM. Dr. Severson also directs the Minds Lab, where she and her research team investigate how children attribute minds and internal states to human and non-human others (non-human animals, inanimate nature, and personified technologies, such as robots) and the social and moral consequences of doing so. Dr. Severson received a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the University of Washington. Prior to joining the faculty at University of Montana in 2016, she was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of British Columbia and a Fulbright Fellow at the University of Oslo.
Change maker, believer in the power of community, driver of innovation and learning and always makes time for play. Brenda has spent her career working for good in the philanthropic world on issues related to health policy, the health care safety net and community health issues affecting vulnerable populations. She is a strategy, evaluation, program and grant making guru with an eye toward local collaboration and a keen sense that change happens when communities come together to engage in good work. She is invested in the work of the Headwaters Foundation because she believes every child deserves a healthy start to life. She left her beloved San Francisco to move to Montana to re-invent philanthropic practices at Headwaters and live in Big Sky Country with its slower pace of life and stunning beauty. Brenda holds a bachelor’s degree in history and political science, a juris doctorate, is a member of the California state bar association and is a Terrance Keenan Emerging Leader in Philanthropy Fellow. Living in Montana, Brenda is learning to be an avid lover of nature and the great outdoors, along with her husband and two children.
Erin Switalski is the program director at the Headwaters Foundation, which aims to reduce social and economic barriers to health in western Montana. Erin has more than 20 years of experience in the non-profit sector, organizing and mobilizing for progressive change in Montana and nationally. She has worked in the fields of human rights, affordable housing and environmental health, with an eye toward creating just, inclusive and thriving communities for all people and the planet. At Headwaters, Erin gets to work side-by-side with Montana’s vital non-profit organizations to collectively build a healthy and thriving Montana. Erin holds a very under-used bachelor’s degree in Spanish, and in her free time, she can be found wandering the mountains of Montana with her husband and two young daughters, preferably with skis on.
Dr. Brock Tessman
Deputy Commissioner of Higher Education
Montana University System
Dr. Brock F. Tessman serves as Deputy Commissioner of Higher Education for the 40,000 students and 8,000 employees of the Montana University System. In this role, Tessman is responsible for overseeing a wide range of policies, programs, and initiatives related to the system’s Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, and $275 million Research Enterprise. Since April 2020, Tessman has also coordinated Montana’s systemwide COVID-19 response and planning as chair of the Healthy MUS Task Force. Prior to his current position, Dr. Tessman served as a Professor of Political Science and Dean of the Davidson Honors College at the University of Montana in Missoula. Tessman began his academic career at the University of Georgia, where he earned tenure in the School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) for his research and teaching on national security, foreign policy, and the relationship between risk tolerance and leadership decision making. Tessman graduated with an honors degree in International Relations from Brown University and received both his MA and PhD (Political Science) from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Dr. Tessman lives in Helena with his wife Kristin, and daughters Frances (6) and Leona (4). He is an avid trail runner and board game enthusiast.
Holly Truitt Consulting
Holly Truitt lives in beautiful Montana with her husband and boy Finn. Her firm works globally with institutions and individuals to co-design for a better self, community and world. She teaches at Stanford d.school and is a federally funded researcher in designing for community and personal change. This work has been done with talented teams and supported by more than $13.5 million - think embedding a museum in a food bank, vibrant innovation festivals, design labs for change, and deep human connection. Holly believes that change is our medicine – and, when we learn to design our own medicine, we not only change ourselves, but our businesses, communities and the world.