At MUD, we believe in the power of community, and this is the community of people that help us help you: Our Board of Directors, Staff, Key Volunteers, and Residents!
MUD Board of Directors
The MUD Board is comprised of a variety of Missoulians, with a range of experiences, knowledge, and skills. MUD’s board is a working (all volunteer) board, actively involved with site maintenance, MUD programs, events, fundraising, and marketing. We greatly appreciate the time and effort our board members contribute to MUD and its programs.
We currently have OPEN Board Positions –
Bio coming soon!
Growing up in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina, Holly developed a love for the natural environment and a passion for sustainable living at an early age. Holly received a B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2009 and a Master’s degree in Public Administration with a focus on Environmental Policy and Management at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. in 2013. In 2014, Holly met her husband, a Missoulian, and was easily convinced to move West. Holly moved to Missoula in the summer of 2016 and has since fallen in love with the community. Holly’s professional background and current work include communications, marketing, and organizational development, primarily in the context of promoting sustainability and protecting the environment. Holly’s main interests lie in changing social norms to encourage transitions to zero waste and alternatives to consumption-filled lifestyles. Holly joined the MUD board in 2018 and is stoked to support resource sharing and urban sustainable living in Missoula!
Bio coming soon!
Bio coming soon!
Matt grew up in Seattle, Washington and graduated from Washington State University in 1994. After college and a variety of adventure and professional pursuits, he worked on sustainability education and marketing before finding himself as a partner in a Seattle based recycled glass countertop manufacturing company. After a lifetime of visits to the Seeley and Blackfoot areas, the draw became too strong, luring him and his family to relocate to Missoula from Seattle in 2015. Matt still works within the sustainability realm and enjoys everything Montana’s outdoors offers, as well as a strong desire to fold urban sustainability practices into the fabric of Missoula’s community.
John Smith leads change and learning for organizations with social and environmental missions. From Minnesota to Montana, John has served the non-profit, for-profit and public sector as an educator, organizational leader, and board member. In 2016, John participated in Seth Godin’s AltMBA workshop on business development and marketing. He’s currently pursuing a Masters in Public Administration at the University of Montana to defend and improve the public and non-profit sectors.
Jain is a local attorney in private practice and is passionate about providing underserved and marginalized members of our community with access to justice. She grew up in the Flathead Valley and received a B.A. in History, then a Juris Doctorate at the University of Montana. Jain also volunteers with the Missoula Family Law Self-Help Center, and the Western Montana Bar’s pro bono clinic, and in her free time she enjoys music, hands-on projects, learning new things, dancing and making mixed tapes. Jain believes in MUD’s commitment to social, economic and environmental justice and values being involved in building a healthy, sustainable future.
Leidy grew up at the foot of the Tetons in Driggs, Idaho and moved to Missoula after high school to attend the University of Montana. She received Bachelor’s degrees in both photojournalism and French language and literature from UM and was fortunate to spend a semester studying abroad in France to improve her language and train-travel skills. Leidy was first introduced to MUD when researching story ideas for a photojournalism project and became so passionate about MUD’s mission and community that she never left. Before becoming a board member, Leidy was an intern at MUD helping transition to the online tool database system and working in the tool library. Leidy loves all things Missoula: dog hikes, farmers markets, river time, hoppy beers, and growing, cooking and eating local food.
Aaron grew up in Missoula, Montana then headed east to study biology at Cornell University. After graduating, he spent the next several years working in various research and resource conservation jobs across the western U.S. before deciding to bring ideas of ecology and science to city planning. Studying Urban & Regional Planning at Portland State University was an immersive experience in a sustainable hotbed, so his graduate work naturally focused on applying ecological principles to urban sustainability. Aaron joined the MUD Board in 2015 to put his interest in sustainable cities and ecology background to work in the community. When not at work planning the future of transportation in Missoula, he is probably helping his wife Amy wrangle their two unruly adopted mutts or working on a new map project.
Casey Valencia grew up in southwest Colorado where she explored the mountains and deserts of theFour Corners with her family. She graduated from Fort Lewis College with degrees in Environmental Studies and Spanish and spent a semester living in Mexico improving her language skills. After college, Casey spent a year as an AmeriCorps member with a conservation nonprofit in New Mexico before moving to Helena, Montana. In Helena, she became the team leader for the Montana State Parks AmeriCorps program and spent the year leading field trips at various state parks and helping with statewide parks programs. She moved to Missoula in 2014 and her passion for national service has led her to become the AmeriCorps Coordinator for Montana Legal Services Association. In her free time, Casey enjoys gardening, crafting, spying on birds, and wandering all over Missoula with her husband and two dogs.
Without the dedicated efforts of our Director, Tool Librarians, program coordinators, and VISTAs, MUD would not be able to provide you the high-quality services you expect. We’d like you to recognize the following individuals, so you can help us appreciate them as much as we do.
Executive Director (since 2015)
Ellie Costello made her way to Montana from Massachusetts via Virginia. Arriving in VA at ten, she hesitantly expected overalls, farms, and homemade bread. Instead, she discovered the sprawl of the Washington D.C. suburbs. She attended the University of Virginia, receiving her B.A. in Modern Studies in January of 2009. A week later, she packed up her car and made her way west to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA for CASA: Advocates for Kids in Helena, MT. In 2010, she made Missoula and the mountains of the MT-ID border her home as a Trail Crew Leader for the Montana Conservation Corps. Realizing her love of outdoor physical work, she then exuberantly sought out farms and overalls.
Since 2011, Ellie has spent her warm seasons working on small-scale sustainable farms from the Bitterroot northward through the Mission valleys. To round out her childhood fears and adult dreams, her winters she was employed making bread at local bakeries. Receiving her M.S. from the University of Montana in Environmental Studies in January of 2015, Ellie studied food systems and agriculture. While obtaining her degree, she completed research for the Western Montana Growers Coop, Organic Seed Alliance, and FedCo Seeds and worked for Garden City Harvest as the PEAS Farm Caretaker. Ellie is excited to become a part of MUD’s legacy. She has been a fan of MUD since living across the street from the original Northside location in 2011. When you don’t see her working on urban sustainability education and demonstration at MUD, you might find her at a yoga studio, running between the mountains, or with her hands in the dirt growing a really good lunch.
Head Tool Librarian (since 2014)
Tool Librarian & Garden Steward (since 2016)
Jonathan has lived most of his life in Missoula. In 1987 his parents moved to the Miller Creek Valley, south of Missoula and began farming the land. By the age of 3, he had started his agricultural education, growing fruits and veggies and raising chickens, ducks, and turkeys, with his parents and his grandfather, a Puerto Rican immigrant, who lived with them off and on until his passing. Missoula and the surrounding rural and wild landscapes shaped many of his childhood experiences. After graduating from Sentinel High School he spent a 3-year stent in Bellingham Washington, and Vancouver BC, where he studied Applied Arts and Design. After returning to Missoula he spent the next 5 years working as a graphic designer and web developer before deciding to return to school at the University of Montana, where he enrolled in Environmental Studies, focused in environmental design and sustainable business strategies. During this period he met and married his glorious wife, Jessica, became a father (several times over), and resumed farming on the family homestead. At the same time, he transitioned to landscape design and installation, spending several years working at Marchie’s Nursery and attending multiple courses in gardening, earthworks, plant breeding, propagation and seed saving, and attended his first Permaculture Design Course in 2014. Since then he has integrated many of the principles and ethics of the practice into his own gardens personally and professionally.
Tool Librarian (since 2017)
Bio coming soon!
MTCC AmeriCorps VISTA (since 2018)
Alexi grew up right here in Montana, spending her childhood both in Missoula and Columbia Falls. She recently graduated from the University of Montana with a degree in Political Science and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. She has a passion for civic engagement and hopes to put that passion to good use during her VISTA service. In the future, Alexi hopes to continue her education and pursue a legal career.
In her spare time, you can often find Alexi outside playing soccer, tennis, folfing on Blue Mountain, or lazily floating the river. She also loves being creative in the kitchen and binge-watching crime dramas. Alexi is excited to learn more about the Missoula community and sustainable living practices during her service term here at MUD.
Marketing Intern (since 2018)
Sarah Semlitsch was born and raised in Columbia, MO. She started coming out to Missoula every summer after graduating high-school to work for a local whitewater raft outfitter. Less than a year ago she decided to live in Missoula full-time. As she is taking time off from school, she works part-time at an eco-friendly dry cleaning business. Also, she has interned with a couple other non-profits: the Missoula Food Bank and Missoula’s Community Food and Agriculture Coalition. She plans to go back to school at UM in the fall to study Sociology with the intention of going into non-profit business management or social work. She has a passion for the outdoors and helping others, so MUD is naturally a good fit. At MUD, she is working on MUD event press releases, Earth Day planning, collecting MUD stories, and website updates. Outside of work, she loves hiking with her Corgi, Fitzwilliam, hot yoga, and horseback riding.
So many people have been a part of MUD over the years they’re almost impossible to count! Here are a few folks who have helped keep us running and still donate tons of their time to our future!
AmeriCorps VISTA (2017- 2018)
Kevin grew up in an Indiana town, had good lookin’ parents who always were around. He grew up tall and he grew up right with that Indiana corn on them Indiana nights. Okay, that’s enough Tom Petty. After some time in Indiana, he went out in search of different landscapes and lenses. His spirit of adventure led him first to the mountains of New Mexico then the Appalachians. After an agonizing winter expedition west, he is now spending his nights down in the Bitterroot with his lovely girlfriend and her charismatic cat.
Membership Campaign Coordinator (2013), MTCC VISTA Member (2011-2013)
For three years, Ann was MUD’s keystone employee and we’ll be forever grateful for her efforts. She grew up in Columbia, Missouri, where she enjoyed horseback riding, playing and listening to music, and volunteering with a number of community organizations. Ann attended Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana where she majored in Biology and minored in Art History. She spent the fall semester of her junior year on an interdisciplinary program in Tanzania. Ann studied subjects ranging from the Ecology and Behavior of African Animals to Cultures of Tanzania, Human Demography and Sustainability, and intensive study and applied the use of Kiswahili. She lived with a number of families throughout the country including Mgeta in the Uluguru Mountains and the small Maasai village of Loibersoit in Northern Tanzania. While in Mgeta she observed, worked with, and learned from local farmers as they put into practice farming techniques keyed to the problems of raising crops more sustainably on the area’s extremely steep slopes. Living with these families taught her about the complexities of conservation and the practical differences that seemingly small changes can make in enabling people to continue to live and farm in their homeland in more environmentally sustainable ways. She’s currently looking to continue her graduate-level education and is still an avid supporter and volunteer for urban sustainability.
Former MUD Resident (2011-2013)
Erin spent three years as a resident of the 633 house, lovingly dubbed the “MUD Hut.” After graduating with degrees in Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Anthropology, and Spanish at the University of Rochester, Erin moved to Missoula in 2011 for an AmeriCorps VISTA position at the GUTS! (Girls Using Their Strengths!) program of the YWCA. Erin is now fully employed with this non-profit and is excited to invest in the Missoula community and to continue to embrace the communal living style of MUD and its sustainable practices and mission. Born and raised in New England, the mountain views and diversity in outdoor recreation have done a good job convincing her that Montana is where it’s at! You can find her frolicking up mountainsides, bombing down powdery slopes, and cooking up massive amounts of garden-fresh veggies.
Former Education & Events Coordinator (2013)
Anna first arrived in Missoula over a decade ago and has been happily drawn back to town after every adventure in other parts of the world. After graduating with degrees in Biology and Flute Performance she began teaching environmental education, both at camps and in the classroom. As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Paraguay, she organized naturalist training courses, taught environmental education in the schools, and led groups of young adventurers through the jungles near their community. More recently she spent a year in El Salvador developing and implementing a youth volunteerism program for the Salvadoran Ministry of Education. Back at home, she has continued to develop her eclectic skill set by working with youth, organizing service-learning programs, and finishing up her Master’s in Intercultural Youth and Family Development. Anna has been involved with MUD since 2009 when she re-started the Youth Education Program (YEP!), and she’s still active as a volunteer and MUD supporter.
MUD Northside was the original MUD location and is situated on three lots containing two houses, an office, a small tool library, chickens, gardens, and a large demonstration site. The residents helped us keep the houses, gardens, and chickens in good shape, and provide a stellar example of how to live sustainably in an urban environment. The site is currently for sale, so we have no current residents at this time. The MUD Board hopes to reintroduce a residency component to our mission again in the near future.