Staff

Casey Valencia
Executive Director

Casey Valencia grew up in southwest Colorado where she explored the mountains and deserts of the Four 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 several years working as an AmeriCorps member and then as an AmeriCorps program coordinator. After moving to Missoula in 2014, she received her Master’s Degree in Environmental Studies with a focus in Environmental Education from UM. In her free time, Casey enjoys gardening, crafting, and wandering all over Missoula with her husband, son, and two dogs.

Christian Russell
Head Tool Librarian

Christian grew up in Vermont, near the shores of Lake Champlain. He spent much of his time swimming, boating, and hiking around New England. After moving to Missoula in 1989, he graduated from the University of Montana with a liberal arts degree. In his free time, Christian enjoys hiking and camping in the Rocky Mountains with his wonderful wife (she might read this). Together they frequently travel to the Bay Area to see their adult children perform in various theater productions. Christian is marginally efficient at beekeeping and his dishwashing skills are sublime.

Jonathan Peeblson
Tool Librarian

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.

Park Hoeg
Tool Librarian

Park Hoeg was born in Missoula, Montana, and grew up in nearby Stevensville. Early exposure to computers (and the video games he could play on them, of course) led to an ongoing passion for computers and technology. In his early teens, Park built his first computer from parts salvaged from broken computers donated by family and friends. Shortly after that, he started learning computer programming, making simple video games to entertain his friends.

Jane McGuire
Communications Coordinator

Jane McGuire grew up on the central coast of California. After graduating from the University of California, Santa Cruz, she monitored seabirds on a tiny mid-Pacific island, radio-tracked wolves in Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley, cared for a flock of California condors on the Big Sur coast, and conducted songbird surveys in the Sierra Nevada. She moved to Missoula in 2017 to attend the University of Montana, where she earned her master’s degree in Environmental Studies. She and her husband enjoy playing outside with their daughter and two rambunctious dogs.

Claudia Hewston
Seasonal Tool Librarian

Claudia Hewston was born and raised in Polson, Montana, where she spent most of her time running around outside and participating in sports. Some of her fondest memories however, are of the road trips and Star Trek movie nights she got to spend with her family. In 2014 Claudia moved to Great Falls, Montana, where she attended the University of Providence and graduated with a degree in Biology focused in wildlife. Along with a passion for the outdoors, Claudia also has a passion for youth development and community building. This lead her to serve several AmeriCoprs positions where she worked with k-12th graders and entire communities on sustainable projects. Claudia is excited about the experiences she’s had and is looking forward to being a member of the MUD team. When not working, Claudia can be found running around with her fiance Leo and dog Cooper or sitting at home working on a number or crafts.

Emily Kempe
Intern

Emily hails from the beautiful state of Arizona. She graduated with a degree in Nonprofit Leadership and Management from Arizona State University in 2012 and promptly moved to Montana to do seasonal work. As is true for many, Montana stole her heart and she moved here full time in 2014 to work at a nonprofit in Bozeman called HAVEN that serves the survivors of domestic violence. She was at HAVEN until 2019 when she decided to pursue a masters degree in Social Work from the University of Montana and has been living in Missoula ever since. When she’s not at my computer plugging away at her studies you can find her fly fishing, camping, hiking, walking her two adorable dogs (Emmylou and Chuggs), watching murder mysteries on Netflix and spending time with her wonderful partner David.


Board of Directors

Layne Fisher
Board President

Layne grew up in Montana, sharing time between Livingston and Missoula.  She has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of Montana, with a specialty in Radio-Television Production. Out of college, Layne focused her professional energy on work for a Missoula trial attorney. It was through the various responsibilities she had the opportunity to accept in the office, including addition to the trial team, that she found a focus on strategic communication. In her free time, she produced events for local non-profits. The combination eventually drew her to a position in Bozeman managing marketing and events for a sports-based organization. She has returned to Missoula and is thrilled to be back in such a vibrant and caring community culture, which is what lead her to an interest in joining the MUD Board of Directors. In addition to working to support the MUD Mission, Layne enjoys fishing, skiing, documentaries, golfing, playing piano and cooking.

Brittany Palmer

Brittany is from southern Ohio and graduated from the University of Cincinnati with degrees in Anthropology and Spanish. Over the next four years, she farmed on a small production farm in southeastern Ohio, was the Development Coordinator VISTA for an educational nonprofit farm in Reno, Nevada, and managed a fruit and nut tree nursery and homestead in the eastern Sierra outside of Nevada City, California. Brittany came to Montana in 2016 to complete an MS degree in Environmental Studies at the University of Montana. During that time, she assistant taught at the PEAS farm, was a graduate assistant for the YSEALI program, interned for CFAC, and lived at the UM FLAT. Brittany currently works at the Western Montana Growers Cooperative and is the Operations Manager for the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival that takes place each winter. Brittany enjoys growing and cooking food for friends, petting her old cat Tina, and and playing outside.

Elizabeth Weaver

Originally from the Western New York, Elizabeth moved to Missoula, site unseen, in 2013 for an AmeriCorps VISTA position with Montana Legal Services Association. A co-worker who served on MUD’s Board at the time introduced her to the organization and Elizabeth got hooked! She loves learning new skills and MUD’s Blacksmithing Workshop is one of her favorite annual events. 

No longer a VISTA, she now works as the SNAP Outreach Coordinator for the Montana Food Bank Network, where she gets to travel this great state and make food more accessible for all Montanans. A few of Elizabeth’s favorite pastimes include traveling, hunting, hiking/camping, volunteering/civic engagement, and reading a great book. She graduated from Houghton College with bachelor’s degrees in Communication and Political Science, and from SIT Graduate Institute with a Master of Arts in Social Justice in Intercultural Relations. 

DeAnna Bublitz

DeAnna grew up near the Twin Cities of Minnesota but spent many summer weeks backpacking the Superior Hiking Trail up north. School pushed her eastward, eventually completing a Ph.D. in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics in New York. After graduate school, she moved to Montana and has been here for the past eight years. DeAnna has studied infectious diseases in academic, private, and government labs with projects that have taken her to Madagascar and India as well. These days she tries to stay closer to home and is currently a Staff Scientist at the University of Montana. In addition to serving on the MUD Board, DeAnna volunteers as a facilitator for the GUTS program through the Y.W.C.A. and sits on the Open Space Advisory Committee for the city. When she’s not in the lab or volunteering DeAnna loves backpacking with her dogs, hunting, crafting, gardening, and going to concerts.

Lindsey Wallace

Lindsey grew up in Maine and Arizona, and graduated from Fordham University with a BA in Visual Arts. She moved to Missoula in 2009 to attend graduate school at the University of Montana where she completed her MFA in Creative Writing. She’s worked on a farm in Hamilton, on a lobster boat off the coast of Maine, and is now the Communications Director for the Missoula Economic Partnership. In her spare time, Lindsey enjoys exploring public lands, cuddling her dog Milo, and is learning to play guitar very poorly.

Kat Franchino

Kat grew up in Wisconsin before getting her bachelor’s degree in photojournalism at the University of Montana. After graduating, she worked at nonprofits in Wichita and Memphis, then returned to Missoula in 2016. She became a MUD member when an at-home oil change almost went south. MUD saved the day (and a good many others). Kat is the marketing director for the Missoula Family YMCA.

Casey Fitchett

Casey Fitchett is a full-time travel advocate and dog lover originally from the urban sprawl of Hampton Roads, Virginia. After accidentally living with a Lord and Lady in Scotland, getting unwanted henna tattoos from women in Morocco, and getting paid to raft class V rapids in Colorado, she decided that normalcy is for the birds. She’s spent summers riding her bicycle halfway across the country, purchasing and driving a camper van through Chilean and Argentinian Patagonia, and living in a homemade truck camper affectionately named the ‘Taco Shell’. Following eight years (off and on, that travel thing, remember) living in the spectacular frozen tundra that is Grand Marais, Minnesota, she moved to Missoula just before the pandemic of 2020. She now spends her time being amazed at the lack of humidity in Montana, tending to her community garden plot, trail running, and helping her partner Jake whip up homemade beer. Armed with a B.A. in Religious Studies (Buddhism concentration) and Economics minor from the University of Virginia, she is as confused as you must be about her career path. She feels that she naturally has an inclination to live her life in a community-minded way and is thrilled to learn more about sustainability through a board position with MUD. Please say “hey!” to her if you ever see her out and about!

Sarah Lundquist

Sarah Lundquist was born and raised just outside Seattle, WA. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in American Sign Language Studies and Psychology from Western Oregon University in 2017. Before moving to Missoula, Sarah spent a year as an AmeriCorps member at the Addison County Solid Waste Management District in Middlebury, Vermont. Her time in Vermont was spent leading community workshops, teaching school groups, and organizing events – in addition to biking and hiking around Vermont’s gorgeous landscape. In 2018, Sarah moved to Missoula to pursue a Master’s degree in Environmental Studies at UM. Her graduate work focused primarily on zero waste, and included several interesting internships with Home ReSource, Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, and the City of Missoula. She currently works as the Zero Waste Education Manager at Home ReSource, and is very passionate about moving Missoula toward zero waste.