LEARN Missoula is BIPOC led and directed. Each member comes with a repertoire of knowledge, skills and a professional value base. As a collective, we are committed to centering local BIPOC voices and knowledge in the process of transforming community structures, municipal systems, and business institutions in Missoula.
- Dr. Laurellé C. Warner: Project Lead. Lead Researcher. Principle Investigator.
- Dr. Brad Hall: Associate Researcher.
- Jamar Galbreath: Associate Researcher.
- Wilena Old Person: Associate Researcher.
- Alex Kim: Associate Researcher.
- Ka`aumoana Ahina: Associate Researcher.
- Spider McKnight: Associate Researcher.
- Dexter Royes: Project Manager
Dr. Laurellé C. Warner
Dr. Laurellé C. Warner has extensive teaching and clinical practice experiences that span the East and West Coasts. Her formal journey into academia commenced with the successful completion of the State of Connecticut Minority Teaching Fellowship Program while continuing to coordinate treatment programs and provide clinical social work services in psychiatric mobile crisis and outpatient mental health. Her teaching interests include theories and their application; micro, mezzo, & macro practice issues; diversity and ethics; social, economic, environmental, & racial justice. Currently, her clinical practice focuses on working co-collaboratively with young adults navigating marginalized identities and stratified social positions.
Besides her teaching and clinical practice, Dr. Warner is avidly interested in research. Her primary research interest, at this juncture, is resilience with special emphasis on qualitatively examining resilience in Black women compared to Black men across the life cycle. This examination of resilience is informed by a contextual and racial justice lens. Dr Warner is cognizant of the fact that the sociocultural ecologies of Black populations are impacted by oppressive and unjust hierarchical systems; and, their social reality include the lived experiences of racialized treatment, microaggression, statistically significant disparities, disproportional violence, and inequity. Her goal is to privilege the voices and conceptualizations of Black women and men who are irrefutably qualified to offer crucial/salient contributions about the nature, meaning, and processes of resilience.
Ultimately, Dr. Warner seeks to: a) offer an alternative conceptualization and understanding of resilience that is both culturally determined and responsive, b) contribute to an inclusive and equitable knowledge base about resilience, and c) challenge the existing hegemony of Eurocentric assumptions about resilience. Her research interest has significant overlap and congruence with LEARN Missoula research project that focuses on the centering of BIPOC voices and experiences to dismantle systemic oppression, discrimination and inequality and leveraging their generated solutions to advance social transformation in Missoula.
Among the plethora of honors and awards that she has received, Dr. Warner values her membership in the Phi Alpha National Social Work Honor Society and takes pride in being the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Social Workers California Inland Empire and an honoree of the Black Student Association of La Sierra University. On a more personal note, Dr. Warner has a deep and abiding commitment to family, faith and the Divine.
Dr. Brad Hall
Dr. Brad Hall is Amp-skaa-pi Piikani (Blackfeet) and he was raised on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in north central Montana. Dr. Hall is a graduate of Browning High School and proceeded to college at Montana State University – Bozeman, where he majored in teacher education, obtaining a Bachelors of Arts in History Teaching. His formative years in education included working in museum education, alternative school settings, and eventually a career beginning as a social studies teacher at Heart Butte Public Schools. Reflecting on his experiences as both a student and an educator, Dr. Hall has sought to address inequities he has witnessed in American Indian education as a teacher, primarily leading him to develop relevant curriculum through meaningful educational experiences and culturally-responsive instruction. Learn more
Dr. Hall has developed and shared Indian Education for All (IEFA) instructional methods as a social studies teacher, Dr. Hall also experienced the challenges and limitations of implementing best practices identified for their promise with teaching American Indian students. Dr. Hall set his sights past curriculum and instruction, to a masters of school leadership, as he recognized lack of support for IEFA working in a reservation school, as the system not just the classroom was not equipped to implement this state-wide mandate. Prior to starting his position at the University of Montana, Dr. Hall left the public schools to work at Blackfeet Community College (BCC), a tribally-controlled, two-year college, committed to integrating Piikani culture and language in to all facets of the institution. Dr. Hall served as the Institutional Researcher and Vice President for Mission Effectiveness at BCC. In those roles, he facilitated review of Blackfeet Nation Institutional Review Board applications and reports, submitted and managed grant proposals, made personnel and facility infrastructure decisions, and supported the tribal college president and tribal leadership.
The time at BCC allowed Dr. Hall to commit his doctoral studies on understanding the role of culturally-responsive education, focusing on how educational leadership aligns to Piikani cultural values to encourage practices that lead to accomplishing culturally-responsive education on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. Dr. Hall’s scholarship focuses on Indigenous education, Indigenizing educational leadership, and enhancing postsecondary education access and opportunities for/with Indigenous communities and tribal schools and colleges. Dr. Hall has published works focusing on Piikani leadership, Indigenizing education, and digital Indigenous storywork in top-tier journals and as part of invited collections.
Dr. Brad Hall is currently the Tribal Outreach Specialist for the University of Montana. In this role, Dr. Hall engages with K-12 schools and tribal communities to enhance the communication and transition to colleges and universities for/with Indigenous students. Dr. Hall is also the Interim Chair of the Blackfeet Nation Institutional Review Board (BNIRB). Dr. Brad Hall will play an important role in LEARN Missoula and throughout the research study, with his particular expertise in helping to guide the research team in aligning the design, instrumentation, and dissemination to be aligned with indigenous and community values as well as accepted qualitative practices. Given his prior research experiences and methodological expertise, he will also be particularly active in the data analysis portions of the project, especially in relation to the stories told by informant participants.
Jamar Galbreath is a husband, father, son, brother, father, uncle, nephew, cousin, and more to a multi racial, multi ethnic, diasporic family. He puts these identities ahead of any credentials as a constant reminder that the work that he does reflective of and in honor of them. Much of his career has been directed at building diverse, equitable, inclusive and empowering environments. He brings a multidisciplinary educational background in higher education, ethnic studies, research and assessment, and counseling, and human resources as well as over 10 years of diverse working experiences incorporate the fields of higher education, community engagement, and customer service.
Wilena Old Person
University of Montana
Program Coordinator, Health Careers Opportunity Program-College of Health-
Missoula County Public Schools (MCPS), Board Trustee
Elected May 2019, term 2019-2022
Wilena Old Person grew up in Starr School, Montana on the Blackfeet Reservation in North central Montana, her parents are Cynthia Sohappy of Wapato, WA and Leo Old Person of Starr School. She earned her Bachelor Degree at the University of Montana in 2004 in History and is currently in the Master of Arts Anthropology program. Wilena currently works in the HCOP program, which aims to recruit and retain disadvantaged students into the health professions. She is married to Jason Plain Feather (Crow) and mother to four awesome sons: Joel, Alec, Jack, and Jase. Learn more
Alex is the joint Racial Justice Engagement Specialist for EmpowerMT and the YWCA of Missoula, working to build anti-racism initiatives for both organizations and within the community to ensure that racial justice is a primary lens that informs all of our work. Alex has a degree in Communications and Photo Journalism from the University of Montana. He has worked for the UM college radio station, doing community outreach, and for Backcountry Hunters and Anglers leading diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. He also designs and facilitates BIPOC outdoor clinics for Missoula Parks & Recreation. Alex enjoys art and photography, getting outside, and good food. His commitment to racial justice work is rooted in celebrating our differences, elevating BIPOC voices, educating the community, and building compassion and empathy for one another.
Ka’aumoana N.A. Ahina Jr.
A native Kānaka Maoli, born of the Islands of Hawaiʻi, will be completing his Bachelor of Arts Degree at the University of Montana and majoring in Communication and Psychology. Kaʻaumoana has been a Missoula resident for the past six years. He is the co-founder and president of the University of Montana Pacific Islanders Club and a member of the UM Diversity Advisory Committee. His employment resume includes UM Athletics working in the Hackney athletic equipment center, Gay Health Task Force as an Outreach Coordinator and tester for HIV & STD’s, and University Center’s 15th Annual DiverseU Symposium as student coordinator. Kaʻaumoana is committed to reducing and ending the negative impacts of systemic racism on the lives of Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) communities by activating spaces of solidarity. He continues to find inspiration and empowerment through direct action and dedication in sharing culture through the spirit of Aloha.
Dexter Royes has a diverse repertoire of knowledge, skills and experiences. He has over 20 years of experience in the financial industry and over 10 years in secondary education. In his leadership role as Vice President of Operations, he formulated strategies that increased shareholders’ value and enhanced customers’ experience. Learn more
Additionally, he developed recognition and incentive programs to motivate associates and create a compelling place to work culture. He also managed a variety of projects that included mergers, retention, office relocation and Total Quality Management (TQM) initiative, with a budget responsibility for each project.
Dexter Royes is also a motivational speaker and presenter. He has spoken across the Northeast including presentation at Boston University Executive MBA program. His expertise as a leader, innovator and speaker is currently being utilized by Seyorion Business Services and North Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
Spider McKnight is the owner of the strategic communications agency Six Pony Hitch. Using the principles of design justice, she facilitates meaningful and lasting results by helping organizations find and use their unique voices. As an out lesbian working for Fortune 100 companies, Spider has been an advocate for minority voices both inside and outside the communications, branding, and marketing worlds. Her activist experience includes decades of non-violent direct action, community organizing, and supportive ally work with and for groups advocating for LGBTQIA rights, the end of the AIDS pandemic, Environmental justice, and Anti-Racist advocacy work. Learn more
Spider has worked with/been a member of/been an ally of/gone to jail with/been a marshal for: ACT UP, The Lesbian Avengers, The Dyke March Committee, The Lesbian Avengers Civil Rights Organizing Project, Honor the Earth, the Zapatistas in Chiapas Mexico, The Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization,The White Earth Land Recovery Project, The Indigenous Women’s Network, The Indigenous Environmental Network, Greenpeace, National Action Network, Justice for Abner Louima, Justice for Amadou Diallo, The Matthew Shepard Funeral March, All Against The Haul, and many more.
“Spider’s ongoing commitment to equity and her work in elevating BIPOC experiences, voices and expressions combined with her activism focusing on dismantling oppressive systems are consistent with the aims and goals of LEARN Missoula. Furthermore, she brings a wealth of knowledge, skills, and connections and a history of allyship that can be leveraged for the project’s success.” – Dr. Laurelle C. Warner