As a fourth generation Montanan, I am deeply rooted in Montana history and have a close connection with the state that my family has called home for a century. Unfortunately, my family’s history in Montana was unwillingly cut short when I was young. My father was a teacher at Hellgate High School in the 1980’s during a period of difficult economic times. Educational cutbacks prevalent at the time seemed to foretell the loss of his job. Scared of the potential and dire consequences, my parents were forced to leave Montana in search of opportunity.
My father took a job teaching and coaching at a high school in Idaho Falls and my mother took a job with the U.S. Department of Energy. They worked hard and made sure that I had everything I needed and the opportunity to work for everything I wanted. Most importantly, they instilled in me the work ethic that had been passed down to them through generations.
I took my first job as a minimum wage employee when I was fifteen, following in the family tradition of starting work young. When it came time to attend college, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to attend school at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, and witness the inner workings of the American government. Georgetown offered the opportunity to experience a different world than I had ever seen or imagined.
While at Georgetown, I had the opportunity to experience the American political process first hand. Working on Capitol Hill, I was able to garner vast sums of experience in the American political process.
During that time, I worked in the office of Senator Max Baucus and later worked on his reelection campaign. Following that, I worked in the office of Representative Brian Baird. In 2003, I began working in the finance office for the John Edwards for President Campaign. Later that year, I traveled the country from coast to coast campaigning for Senator Edwards in his first bid for the Democratic Presidential nomination.
After working on Senator Edwards’ campaign, I returned to Idaho Falls and spent time substitute teaching prior to attending law school at the University of Montana. While attending law school, I helped spread enthusiasm for the rural issues that had drawn me to campaign for Senator Edwards, co-founding the Rural Advocacy League.
After law school, I entered the private practice of law primarily representing small businesses and assisting in low income housing tax credit projects. During this time, I helped co-found the young professionals networking group, the Missoula Greenhorns.