Montana State University

Boardroom Bobcats program partners students with nonprofit boards

November 10, 2016 -- MSU News Service

Montana State University students, from left, Hilary Lemen, Josh Iverson, Elizabeth Wilk, Ryeland Allenson and Robert Lliteras, are members of the Boardroom Bobcats, a partnership between the MSU Leadership Institute and several local nonprofit organizations. The aim of the project is to place upper-level undergraduate and graduate MSU students as non-voting members of regional nonprofit boards. MSU Photo by Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez.

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571

BOZEMAN – The Montana State University Leadership Institute has launched a new pilot program that places MSU students as non-voting members of local nonprofit boards.

Boardroom Bobcats links 10 MSU students with nine nonprofit organizations in the Bozeman community, according to Laura Demmel, project manager with the MSU Leadership Institute. This pilot year will include a year of monthly board activities and four different board leadership trainings.

The nonprofit community of Bozeman has welcomed the program as the ideal facilitator for connecting student leaders and local nonprofit boards, according to Demmel.

“Participating in the program gives a board a point of view that many members don’t have, a student’s point of view, a relevant point of view, and one that may be similar to many people we serve,” said Joe Esparza, board chair of Warriors and Quiet Waters Foundation, Inc., one of the participating nonprofits.

Josh Iverson, a senior majoring in history and economics from Hampton, Minnesota, paired with Eagle Mount, said that students will benefit by gaining board experience and knowledge of best practices, participating in board leadership trainings, and networking with the nonprofit community and their board members.

"I'm glad I don't have to wait until the end of my (academic) career to start serving," Iverson said.

The following MSU students were paired with the boards of the nonprofits listed next to their names:

(Student, hometown, major and company)

Ryeland Allenson, LaPorte, Colorado; accounting; Bozeman Schools Foundation

Matt Brownlow, Missoula, business marketing/management; Bozeman Community Foundation

Karen Funke, Bozeman, graduate student, adult and higher education; Bozeman Public Library Foundation

Josh Iverson, Hampton, Minnesota; history, economics; Eagle Mount

Hilary Lemen, Barrow, Alaska; economics; Montana Aquatic Resources Services, Inc.

Rob Lliteras, Seward, Nebraska; history; Warriors & Quiet Waters Foundation

John Miller, Judith Gap; business management; Gallatin Valley Land Trust

Darci Peterson, Pinedale, Wyoming; English education, sociology, with a minor in coaching; THRIVE

Isaac Stafstrom, Cascade; animal science; Big Sky Youth Empowerment

Liz Wilk, Olympia Fields, Illinois; graduate student, science and natural history filmmaking; Montana Aquatic Resources Services, Inc.

Created and developed by MSU Leadership Institute director Carmen McSpadden and former program manager Cindy Wilson, the pilot year of Boardroom Bobcats is supported by a $5,000 seed grant from MSU’s Outreach and Engagement Council.

For more information about Boardroom Bobcats or the MSU Leadership Institute, call 406-994-7275, visit or

Contact: Laura Demmel, MSU Leadership Institute, (406) 994-7279 or