The Missoula Education Foundation is governed by a Board of Directors. We invite you to learn more about the current board members.
Jill Taber, Board President
Jill MH Taber is a life-long Montanan who grew up on a ranch in Southwest Montana. She’s lived in Missoula since 2006, when she earned her master’s degree from the University of Montana. As a community member and a mom, she recognizes the importance of, and is passionate about, providing opportunities for our students to excel in and out of the classroom. She returned to the MEF Board of Directors in 2015 and is excited to expand the work of the organization. Jill runs a small business alongside her role as a stay-at-home mom. Her husband, Nick, is a Missoula native.
Melanie Charlson, Vice President
Melanie Charlson is a 26-year veteran teacher with Missoula County Public Schools. She currently serves as President of the Missoula Education Association, Vice-President of MEA-MFT, the state’s largest union, and served on the national American Federation of Teachers K-12 Program and Policy Council. Melanie is a native Missoulian with family roots tracing back five generations. She graduated from Hellgate High School in 1983. Melanie earned her Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education degree and her Master’s in Fine Arts – Integrated Arts and Education degree from the University of Montana. Melanie makes her home in Missoula with her children, Ben 19, Annika 17 and their Golden doodle dog, Piper.
Chris Nowlen, Secretary
Chris is the General Manager and Director of Golf at Missoula Country Club. He and his family returned to their hometown of Missoula three years ago after working in Nebraska. Chris was born in Missoula, graduated from Frenchtown High School and the University of Montana. His wife Mindy is an 8th grade teacher at CS Porter. He has two daughters, Sydnee & Maycee, that attend Sentinel High School and a son, William at Cold Springs Elementary. Chris is an active community member and Rotarian. He has participated on many youth development and educational committees, such as TEAMMATES of Nebraska, a youth mentoring program started by Tom Osborn. Chris was on an advisory board to the MCPS strategic planning initiative and on the Scotts Bluff School Planning Committee in Nebraska. He also is a member of the PGA of America.
Micki Frederikson, Treasurer
Micki is a former teacher of mathematics and pre-calculus courses who taught in junior high and high schools in Florida and Wisconsin. Both of her daughters attended the Missoula County Public Schools and graduated from Big Sky High School. Following her years in the classroom, Micki works as a certified public accountant with the local accounting firm of Campbell & Associates, PC.
Heather Barnhart has been with Opportunity Bank of Montana since June 2011, currently serving as the Area Manager for the Missoula/Hamilton market. Heather has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Montana, which she attended while pursuing her management career.
Heather has resided exclusively in Missoula since the age of 4. Having grown up primarily in Western Montana, she was raised to love the outdoors. During summer, Heather can be found hiking or enjoying Montana’s lakes and rivers with friends and family. Winter brings sledding and snowboarding with her daughter.
Brendan is a Commercial Lender at First Security Bank of Missoula. He and his family returned to Missoula in 2015 after spending nearly 11 years in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Brendan was born in Butte, MT and lived in Dillon, MT. After graduating from high school in Dillon, Brendan attended and graduated from The University of Montana in 2003 with a degree in Business Administration. After graduating, he and his wife, Jenna moved to Idaho Falls to begin their careers. Jenna is currently an employee with Missoula County Public Schools and has been dedicated to education for many years. Brendan has a son, Finely and a daughter, Elise.
I was born and raised in Missoula. After graduating from The University of Montana in 2000 I moved to Spokane, WA, Sacramento, CA, and Scottsdale, AZ before returning home in 2009. My wife Heather and I operate the Five Guys Burgers and Fries franchise in Montana and E Washington. We have two beautiful girls; Vivian (4) and Sadie (2). In our spare time we like to golf, be on the lake, and stay active.
Dr. Jim Clark
As a retired long-time school administrator, Jim knows how important it is to support the efforts of classroom teachers. Your support of the Missoula Education Foundation (MEF) will not only lend support for those efforts but also for the broader goals of the school district that cannot be funded currently. Jim is privileged to be a member of the MEF Board that is dedicated to this mission.
Larysa relocated to Montana from Arizona in 2007, where she worked as a children’s librarian for the City of Phoenix for almost ten years. Her passion for education led her to serve as a MEF board member. In her position at DIRECTV, she worked with the MEF Student Board to oversee the MEF Teacher of the Year Award program, and will continue to support the MEF Student Board. In her current position with the Missoula Chamber of Commerce, she has a strong commitment to connect business with the community and foster economic growth. As a hobby, she became a dog trainer, and enjoys spending time with her two chowders. She is a running enthusiast, and has completed eleven half-marathons. She appreciates all the outdoor opportunities that Montana has to offer. She has a passion for traveling, learning about new cultures, and strives to be fluent in Spanish.
Elizabeth A. Kaleva was raised in Missoula, Montana, where she graduated from Loyola Sacred Heart High School in 1987. She received a Bachelor’s Degree in History from Boston College in 1991. Bea graduated from the University of Montana School of Law in 1995 and, after graduation, clerked for First Judicial District Court Judge Thomas Honzel.
In 1996, Bea joined the Montana School Boards Association as a staff attorney. She rose to the General Counsel position and remained with the MTSBA until 2003, when she returned to Missoula in private practice. Bea serves as counsel for school districts in all areas of employment and school law. Specific practice areas include: contract negotiations, employee misconduct and discipline, student misconduct and discipline, special education and federal programs, and Board of Trustees practice and procedure. She provides litigation defense to school districts and their employees in federal and state courts, arbitrations, and administrative agencies relating to all aspects of school district operations.
Bea is admitted to practice before all Montana courts, the United States District Courts, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. She is a member of the American Bar Association, a former Board member of the National Council of School Attorneys and is the former President of the School Law Section of the Montana State Bar. She has been selected by her peers for inclusion in the Best Lawyers in America in 2014, 2015 and 2016 for the areas of education law and employment law, and was named the Best Employment Law Lawyer for the Missoula area in 2015.
Laura was born and raised in Missoula and graduated from Sentinel High School. After graduating from the University of Montana with a degree in Business Administration in 1990 she began her career at the credit union. She currently serves as Vice President, Back Office Operations at Park Side Credit Union. Her husband Jim and she recently celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. They have two dogs, Scooby and Scrappy and in their spare time they all love spending time at Flathead Lake.
Lucia Solorzano Work
Before moving to Missoula in 1990, Lucia Solorazano Work served as education editor of U.S. News & World Report magazine; she also is the author of Barron’s Best Buys in College Edition, which appeared in its eleventh edition in 2010. Lucia volunteers in Missoula’s public schools as a tutor with the McKinney Homeless Program and as a member of Writing Coaches of Missoula. She is the mother of two children who received their K-12 education in Missoula County Public Schools.
The MEF also extends thanks to founding board members Barbara Denowh, Adam Duerk, Art Hightower, and Tosha Iverson without whose help the foundation would not have completed its successful first two years.