UM Institute Selects First Cohort of Baucus Leaders for Montana

MISSOULA – The Max S. Baucus Institute’s Department of Public Administration and Policy at the University of Montana has selected seven students for the inaugural cohort of Baucus Leaders Montana.

Baucus Leaders Montana is modeled on its successful predecessor, Baucus Leaders, which places students in summer internships with congressional offices and committees in Washington, D.C. Students chosen for Baucus Leaders Montana, however, will have the opportunity to make a difference closer to home as they participate in project-based learning with offices throughout the state in the summer of 2021. 

            The 2021 Baucus Leaders Montana, their placements and their hometowns are:

  • Clara Bentler, Montana Department of Justice, from Billings
  • Ashley Brittner Wells, City of Missoula, from Missoula
  • Jacqueline Baldwin-LeClair, UM American Indian Governance Institute, from Morristown, New Jersey
  • Rachael Foe, Missoula County, from Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Renee Kelley, Montana Legislative Research and Policy Office, from Helena
  • Connor Timpone, Montana Nonprofit Association, from Yosemite, California
  • Cara Grewell, Office of Commissioner of Higher Education, from Silesia

These offices have close ties to the Baucus Institute’s Department of Public Administration and Policy, with several Master of Public Administration program alumni partnering to supervise students.

Each Baucus Leader Montana participant will be recognized April 30 during the department’s annual event celebrating students. Selected students will receive a $3,000 stipend to defray the costs of housing, travel, course credit or other related expenses.

 “We are incredibly fortunate to be part of the Baucus Institute and continue to give back to our state by sending our best and brightest to work on applied summer projects,” said Dr. Sara Rinfret, chair of DPAP. “Our students will work on real solutions for public sector problems, carrying out Ambassador Baucus’ work and our department’s mission.”

The institute recognizes that, much like Baucus’ own life experiences, it is the public service experiences that inspire students to engage in meaningful work to benefit society. The Baucus Institute focuses on inspiring public service by providing training, education and internships to current and future leaders in the public and private sectors, preparing them to address the critical legal and policy challenges facing Montana, the United States and the world.

The Baucus Institute is part of UM’s Alexander Blewett III School of Law. Learn more about the Baucus Institute and Baucus Leaders Montana at


Contact: Dr. Sara Rinfret, UM Department of Public Administration and Policy chair, 303-763-0034,