MPA Alumni Committee

The Master of Public Administration Program Alumni Committee is an honorary group of at least six former MPA graduates or community members, selected for two-year terms. Selection of the committee is based on recommendations by the MPA faculty and approved by the MPA Committee, which is the internal governing body for MPA programming and student support.

Current members for 2020-2022

Beckie Christiaens, Vice President & CFO, Flathead Valley Community College

Anne Hughes, Chief Operating Officer, Missoula County

Tara Jensen, Co-Director of Public Affairs and Operations, MT Budget & Policy Center

Deena Mansour, Executive Director, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center, University of Montana

Stacey Otterstrom, Professional Coach and Business Owner, PLucK! Coaching and The Virago Collaborative

Dayna Swanson, Director of Government Relations, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance

Kali Wicks, Manager, Government Relations, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana

Jennifer Zellmer-Cuaresma, Director, Student-Athlete Support Services, University of Montana


Distinguished Alumni Awards


2021 Mary Windecker


Mary Windecker M.P.A., is the Executive Director of Behavioral Health Alliance of Montana, an advocacy group representing addiction, mental health, children’s, and tribal behavioral health organizations. She has 30 years of experience in nonprofit health care including strategic planning, business development, advocacy, patient satisfaction, and marketing and outreach. Mary has worked in community health centers, ambulatory medicine, hospitals, and behavioral health and has seen the damage done by providing healthcare in siloes rather than a continuum of care that provides the right level of care at the right time. She has volunteered in leadership positions with Make-A-Wish Montana, Missoula YMCA, Rotary, Big Brothers Big Sisters, United Way, Missoula Writing Collaborative and served as the board chair for the Missoula Chamber of Commerce in the 2015-16 fiscal year. Mary was also a member of: Graduation Matters, Community Health Needs Assessment Committee, YMCA Active 6 Founding Member, Let’s Move Missoula! Planning Committee, Missoula County Public Schools Health Science Academy and the Vote Yes for Missoula! School Bond. Mary lives in Missoula with her partner and has two grown children.


2020 Deena Mansour


Deena Mansour M.P.A. '98, is the Executive Director of the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center at the University of Montana. With more than 30 years of experience in international education, she has collaborated with the Department of State throughout mainland southeast Asia, and has lectured at a number of foreign universities. Mansour co-founded UM’s Women’s Leadership Initiative in 2015 and served as a Presidential Leadership Fellow for UM President Royce C. Engstrom. She has been on the leadership team of the Mansfield Center since 2010. 

2019 Mike Halligan


Mike Halligan M.P.A. ’77, is a Vietnam vet and a former senator in the Montana Legislature. He has worked as a Missoula deputy county attorney, supervising attorney for the Montana Department of Justice’s Child Protection Unit and owner of a private family law practice. Since 2002, Mike has directed UM’s philanthropic Dennis and Phyllis J. Washington Foundation, and he remains connected to the community through volunteer work.