Dr. Rhonda Hamerslough-Koester is a business owner, Certified Professional Dog Trainer and doting dog mom.
Rhonda holds two BS degrees (Health Science and Registered Dental Hygiene) and an MS in School Counseling. She completed an Educational Specialist Degree in School Psychology and a doctorate in Educational Administration and Leadership at Loma Linda University (LLU). Rhonda was actively involved in didactic and clinical teaching, curriculum development and research at LLU’s School of Dentistry.
After 15 years of teaching, Rhonda moved to the Pacific Northwest where she pursued her true passion of working with animals. She served on the Board of Directors for an animal shelter in Idaho and was subsequently hired as Executive Director and tasked with building a new facility. After accomplishing this goal, she turned her attention toward utilizing the amazing healing power of dogs to help children.
Rhonda was awarded Missoula’s 2017 Ken Schughart Humanitarian award for her non-profit work with shelter dogs and kids on probation. Working together, her subjects learned imperative social and emotional skills while healing each other’s wounds and hearts. Today, she continues this work through her Pawsitively Social Emotional Learning curriculum, which has been adopted by schools throughout the United States. Pawsitively SEL utilizes dogs vicariously and provides kids the opportunity to learn and practice social and emotional skills in order to succeed in life.
When she isn’t working on her business, Rhonda trains dogs at the local Humane Society and works with private clients. She practices her love for animals by volunteering through deployment with the HSUS and ASPCA to assist animals in disaster relief or hoarding situations. She also enjoys gardening and DIY projects in her off time. Rhonda loves hiking in the Rocky Mountains with her rescue dog Digger, practicing quiet, mindful moments. She lives with her husband Douglas in Missoula, MT. You can reach her at Rhonda@pawsitivelysel.com or @pawsitivelysel (Facebook and Twitter).
Myrna Adams Dumontier is a dedicated cultural coordinator, educator and liaison for her Salish tribe. She served as a CSKT Councilmember representing her native Arlee district from August 2018 until January 2020. Myrna graduated from the University of Montana with a Bachelors degree in Social Work with emphasis in addiction and psychology studies and received an honorary degree from Salish Kootenai College in Native American Studies.
Myrna has worked in Drug and Alcohol Prevention and addictions treatment much of her forty plus year career on the reservation and attributes her cultural knowledge to growing up in a traditional family. That traditional knowledge has been applied to curriculum development in various work environments such as Head Start, resulting in the first ever language immersion classroom, and continues to benefit ongoing efforts in her community to preserve and perpetuate the Salish Language, culture and lifeways.
Born out of the knowledge of ancestral homelands, Myrna’s favorite recreation is packing into the Bob Marshall Wilderness. She is a certified Wilderness Packer and hopes one day to devote her time to explore more of the wilderness with tribal people.
Rachel Andrews-Gould is the Chair of the Business Department at the Salish Kootenai College in Pablo, MT. She holds both a B.A. and M.A. from California Coastal University.
Marquetta Felix, known affectionately by her friends as Kitty, currently serves as a CSKT Social Worker helping reunite families. She recently completed 13 years of service as a Social Worker and Case Manager with the Missoula Health Department’s Healthy Families Program. Kitty also has a 30+ year association with ARC’s former fiscal sponsor, the Missoula Urban Indian Health Center, where she served as a long-time Board Member, a Health Coordinator and a Case Manager. Kitty holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Human Services and Rehabilitation from Salish Kootenai College.
Kitty loves to create traditional crafts inspired by the Salish culture. She considers herself a dog lover and knows first-hand that canines know when one is not well. She believes in the therapeutic power of owning a dog and is a proud owner of a beloved pit bull.
Kristen Desjarlais has a passion for children and animals and their well-being. She works as the head Counselor for Ronan Middle School on the Flathead Indian Reservation. Kristen is a firm believer in the importance of mental health support and the power of Social & Emotional Learning within schools. She is a First Generation Descendant of the Salish Tribe.
Alina is a native of Ronan and a First Generation Descendant of the Salish Tribe. She currently works as a Social Studies teacher at the Ronan Middle School.
Alina's association with ARC stems from her passion for teaching children and her passion for animals. She has volunteered for the Mission Valley Animal Shelter for a number of years, which is where she met ARC's founder during his time running that shelter. At the time, Alina volunteered to serve on an Advisory Council for Community Canines and adopted an adorable homeless corgi mix pup who has since become a beloved family member.
A resident of Columbia Falls, Emily Thueson's commitment to animals and nonprofits is boundless. Her passion for nonprofit work was inspired through years of association with the Glacier Conservancy and the Glacier Natural History Association. Over the years, she has harnessed her connections in the Glacier Park community to support valuable nonprofit projects and rescue the most down-and-out animals who needed a second chance.
Emily is excited to serve ARC's Secretary.
Filip has spent roughly 15 years working on animal related issues in the nonprofit field. He holds a B.S. in Wildlife Biology and an M.A. in Environmental Ethics. He has served as Executive Director for three separate nonprofits including the Mission Valley Animal Shelter on the Flathead Indian Reservation.
Filip feels drawn to nonprofit work that helps both animals and people - particularly those who have faced injustice or pain.
He lives with his beloved wife, daughter and two senior shelter mutts in western Montana where he arrived 25 years ago, seeking a freer, slower, and more genuine life that was down-to-earth and just a tad less civilized.
In the rare moments he finds for himself, Filip enjoys admiring the beauty of birds, wildlife and remote wild landscapes.
Julian comes from the East Coast to serve their 2nd term with AmeriCorps, this time as a VISTA member. They hold an A.S. in Criminal Justice from Atlantic Cape Community College in New Jersey. Previously, they served 8 months with AmeriCorps NCCC, where they addressed housing instability with Habitat for Humanity, disaster recovery with SBP, and infrastructure improvement with the Oatland Island Wildlife Center. This work afforded them the opportunity to travel the country, mainly doing community service and construction projects.
Julian was especially impacted by their time on the Crow Creek Sioux Indian Reservation in Fort Thompson, South Dakota. The Reservation is located in Buffalo County, which is considered the poorest county in the US in terms of median household income. With a team of 9 other AmeriCorps members, Julian partnered with Habitat for Humanity Dacotah Tipis to provide repairs on damaged homes and improve relationships between the Dakota people and outsiders. For 6 weeks, they were immersed in an unfamiliar culture and had limited access to resources in a remote and impoverished community. They learned that many people on the Reservation are stuck in a cycle of poverty due to unemployment, lack of federal aid, and other systemic factors. This experience deeply humbled Julian and served as a catalyst for their aspirations to further pursue public service and, more specifically, work with Native American populations to achieve food sovereignty, work on solutions to “brain drain”, and combat factors contributing to poverty. Currently, Julian is driven to pursue a degree in Nonprofit Management & Community Development, then join the Peace Corps to gain hands-on experience with developing nations.
Julian is inspired and energized by ARC’s mission and feels blessed to be given this opportunity. Their year-long assignment will include grassroots organizing for ARC's POG program, developing an RCHE summer camp manual and building capacity for our RCHE program by developing a training manual.
In their off time, Julian enjoys cooking, poetry, hiking, traveling, reading, gaming and live music. They currently reside in Charlo and can be reached at (609) 432-8805 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Octavia’s service takes her from the Brazos Valley in Texas to western Montana after graduating from Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas with a B.S. in Sociology. Her previous efforts in community organizing focused on the Latine population in the Bryan-College Station community and specifically working with organizations focused on helping migrants.
Her galvanization to this work comes in the form of her just over 1 year old cat, Jenny, who she adopted during her last year of university. The level of healing and resiliency she was able to build in her own life through her connection to an animal helps push her to do her best to expand that experience to those at risk. This compounds with her long time commitment to social justice and beliefs in a more equitable society.
Her primary charge at the ARC is working with the community to adapt and focus the socio-emotional learning curriculum to the specific needs and context of the reservation.
Her plans after service are to pursue a graduate degree in either history or sociology, looking to explore the socio-historical roots of inequalities in the western United States.
In her free time she enjoys spending time with the people close to her heart, writing and relaxing with music.