Montana Public Health Training Center Staff


tony ward

Tony Ward, Executive Director

Originally from Houston, Texas, Tony Ward came to Missoula in 1997 to attend graduate school at the University of Montana. He is currently Professor and Chair of the School of Public and Community Health Sciences. In addition to teaching within the School, his research involves working in rural communities and schools throughout Montana, Idaho, Alaska, and Arizona on air pollution (forest fires and wood stoves) and health issues. On a personal note, he has two teenage daughters and enjoys the outdoor activities that Montana has to offer (skiing, backpacking, trail running, and fly-fishing).

Aimee Elliott Headshot

Aimee Elliott, Budget Analyst

Originally from Kailua, Hawaii, Aimee moved to Missoula in 2000. Aimee has a MS in Hospitality Management with an emphasis in Food Service Management and has spent 15 years as a faculty member at the University of Montana.  Aimee's area of interest is in food and nutrition studies and how this impacts public health.  Aimee has two young boys, two lazy pugs and spends her time cooking, baking, hiking, and gardening.

Lydia Czech Headshot

Lydia Czech, Wellness Program Director

Lydia Czech received her bachelor's in Health and Human Performance, with a focus in Community Health. She has her certificate in Health Behavior Coaching and she is passionate about helping people find their path to sustainable lifestyle choices that improve long term health outcomes. She also provides guided sound meditations that help people relax in the moment and practice developing mindful self-awareness. She is honored to have the opportunity to support the wellness needs of our hard-working public health professionals.  


Leigh Taggart, Graduate Program Capstone Coordinator

Leigh is a graduate of the University of Montana MPH program, and a registered nurse. She is an adjunct faculty at the School of Public and Community Health Sciences, where she teaches several courses including the MPH capstone practicum and integrative learning experiences. Prior to coming to the University, Leigh worked as a Registered Nurse in critical care, mentoring new nursing students, and developing orientation curriculum. She also brings with her 15 years of global public health experience, executing program planning, implementation and evaluation on projects in Morocco and Uganda. Leigh is excited to be in her new role as Graduate Program Capstone Coordinator.

Headshot of Desiree

Desiree Restad, Training Developer and Manager

Desiree Restad, MPH, was born and raised in Montana. She is proud to serve as a member of the Rural Behavioral Health Institute’s Board of Directors and the Montana Public Health Association’s Executive Board. She is a former member of the Montana HIV Planning Group and served as a Montana Public Health Institute Design Team member.  Desiree holds a BS in Health Promotion from Montana State University-Billings and an MPH from the University of Montana. Desiree is passionate and dedicated to providing prevention education, raising awareness, and promoting collaboration amongst programs to improve health while reducing health disparities.