Staff

Emily Auld, Community Organizer

Emily grew up in the New York City area and earned her undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies and English from the University of Vermont. In college, she focused on food access and environmental justice and spent summers farming and building trails. In the winters, she studied abroad in Ecuador and Nepal to learn about energy resiliency and indigenous relations. After moving to Montana, Emily served an AmeriCorps term at Giant Springs State Park in Great Falls, and most recently lived in Gardiner giving tours for the nonprofit Yellowstone Forever. She loves everything outside, including climbing, running, and backpacking. Emily staffs the Sleeping Giant Citizens Council in Helena, the new Great Falls affiliate, and the Clean Energy Task Force. Email: emily@northernplains.org


Sydney Ausen, Director of Organizing & Campaigns

Sydney was born, raised, and remained in Montana. She grew up on the great reaching plains of Billings, where she loved to hike and climb in the rimrocks. She earned a degree in Political Science and Development Studies from the University of Montana. Before joining the Northern Plains staff in 2016, she worked on a voter registration and civic engagement campaign. Sydney guides the overall work of Northern Plains’ organizing team and directs Northern Plains’ issue campaigns. Sydney loves working with neighbors, community leaders, and activists to build thriving Montana communities. She staffs the Cooke City affiliate, Beartooth Alliance. Email: sydney@northernplains.org


Paula Berg, Director of Finance and Administration

Paula hails from Lewistown, Montana and earned a bachelor’s in business administration at the University of Montana. Prior to coming to Northern Plains in 2011, she performed accounting and administrative work in the private sector. Paula oversees Northern Plains’ day-to-day accounting, transactions in the bank and brokerage accounts, and handles state and federal reporting requirements. Email: paula@northernplains.org


Caroline Canarios, Legislative Organizer

Caroline started with Northern Plains in 2018 as a Community Organizer. Before arriving, she worked as a Research Associate at the University of Mississippi Center for Population Studies in Oxford, MS where she managed projects related to community health and the resilience of county-level food systems in the South. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from the University of Montana, the Tennessee transplant returned to the South to pursue a postgraduate degree in sociology from the University of Mississippi. There, she found her niche working on agriculture and food issues. Caroline is based in Helena where she staffs Northern Plains’ legislative work and the Agriculture Task Force. Email: caroline@northernplains.org


Gusty Catherin-Sauer, Community Organizer

Gusty was born and raised in central Idaho and spent many summers in eastern Montana, visiting ranches where her father was working. She earned her undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies at Hampshire College. While there, she focused on environmental microbiology and community organizing as tools for adapting to a changing climate. Gusty has worked as a river guide in the Frank Church Wilderness, a volunteer coordinator at Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge, and as a biological technician for the Forest Service located in White Sulphur Springs, MT. Gusty enjoys exploring her backyard via skis, boats or horseback. She staffs the Livingston affiliate, Yellowstone Bend Citizens Council, and leads the Soil Task Force. Email: gusty@northernplains.org


Jim Cooper, Facility Manager

Jim joined the Northern Plains staff in 2018 to oversee the care and maintenance of the Home on the Range office. Before coming to Northern Plains, Jim built a robust career working in a broad range of positions from managing the supply chain for a rural hospital to groundskeeping and maintenance for Stockman Bank. Originally from the Big Sky State, Jim earned a bachelor’s degree in History from the University of Montana, with an emphasis in Chinese language and culture.


Caitlin Cromwell, Deputy Director of Organizing & Campaigns 

Caitlin joined the Northern Plains staff in 2016. She grew up in Maryland, where she grew to love all things rural while watching her dad raise chickens and keep bees. She attended Yale University and worked at the Western Organization of Resource Councils before coming to Northern Plains. Caitlin helps guide the overall work of Northern Plains’ organizing staff and directs the leadership development program. Her favorite part of her job is getting to introduce people to their own power and developing their leadership and confidence to participate in public life. She also staffs the Glendive affiliate, Dawson Resource Council. Email: caitlin@northernplains.org


Maggie Gordon, Executive Director 

Maggie has been with Northern Plains since 2013, starting as a Community Organizer and later serving as the Director of Organizing and Campaigns and Director of Mission Engagement. Born and raised in Wyoming, she has undergraduate degrees in biology and environmental sciences from Gonzaga University and a master’s degree in public administration from Montana State University. Maggie’s an avid gardener, backpacker, and baker. Email: maggie@northernplains.org


Anna Kerr-Carpenter, Communications Coordinator 

Originally from Sacramento, California, Anna has been a professional photographer for over ten years and has since expanded into design. She received her degree in Anthropology from Illinois Wesleyan University in 2017 and studied UI/UX Design in 2019. She takes particular interest in the creative direction of organizing campaigns and the intersection of visual storytelling and progressive movements. Anna maintains design, content, and functionality of the website, designs print and digital outreach materials, and supports all organizational communications efforts. Outside of work she loves hanging out with her lovable dog and bouncing between various creative projects. Email: anna@northernplains.org


Tai Koester, GNA Manager

Born and raised in Boulder, Colorado, Tai completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Colorado, where he received degrees in geography and evolutionary biology. Before joining the organizing team at Northern Plains in 2019, Tai worked as a field technician for the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research where he collected hydrology data for long-term climate analysis. The son of an anthropologist, Tai has also spent time researching peasant movements in the West Indies and exploring the exclusion of indigenous people from the management of public lands at Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. Email: tai@northernplains.org.


Caleb Lande, Director of Fundraising 

Born and raised in Western Montana, Caleb holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics from the University of Montana. Since 2008, he has worn many hats at Northern Plains: Research Intern, Lead Organizer, Good Neighbor Agreement Manager, Grassroots Fundraiser, and now Fundraising Director. He uses this varied experience to guide Northern Plains’ grassroots and foundation fundraising efforts. Caleb enjoys helping staff and leaders find their full potential as fundraisers. He is an avid car enthusiast and loves sharing the beauty of Montana with his wife Kristin and two children, Nora and Ava. Email: caleb@northernplains.org


Bronya Lechtman, Community Organizer 

Bronya joined the organizing team in early 2021. Bronya earned a degree in Environmental Policy from Colby College in Maine. While there, she was involved in organizations throughout Maine focused on regenerative agriculture and local food, and conducted research on stakeholder dynamics in determining the future of the coal industry in Montana. This research is what first brought her to Montana, and she fell for the grasslands, mountains, and Northern Plains. After graduating, she apprenticed on an organic farm in Western Maine, before making her way to Billings. Bronya staffs the Lewistown affiliate, Central Montana Resource Council, the Bull Mountains affiliate, Bull Mountain Land Alliance, and the Rosebud County affiliate, Rosebud Protective Association. Bronya also leads the Coal Task Force. Email: bronya@northernplains.org


Shel Mauchline, Community Organizer

Shel was born and raised in the Lake Plains of Michigan. She received an undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies from Yale University, focusing on bottom-up, community-led conservation efforts both domestically and abroad in Thailand. Shel came to realize the power of intentional communities to create just and sustainable futures. She became an educator and officer aboard traditionally-rigged sailing school vessels, and plans to bring the high-impact, high-intensity leadership and community-building skills she learned at sea to her work organizing with Northern Plains. Shel staffs Yellowstone Valley Citizens Council in Billings, Bear Creek Council in Gardiner, and leads the Oil and Gas Task Force. Email: shelby@northernplains.org


Svein Newman, Political Organizing Director

Svein joined the staff in 2009 as a community organizer in the Billings office. During his time with Northern Plains, he has staffed a handful of affiliates and Task Forces, most notably working on coal issues. He is currently the staff lead on civic engagement and democracy issues, he generally oversees our canvassing program, and leads our narrative work as a part of Northern Plains’ Communications Team. Svein is based in the Missoula office, and he is a 2020 recipient of the University of Montana Alumni Association’s “Grizzly of the Last Decade” award. He enjoys reading, hiking, and riding his bicycles. Email: svein@northernplains.org


Dustin Ogdin, Communications Director 

Originally from Nashville, TN, Dustin earned degrees in the visual arts from Middle Tennessee State University (BFA) in 1999, and Ohio University (MFA) in 2004. Before coming to Northern Plains, Dustin worked as a multimedia filmmaker and journalist contributing to outlets including MTV News and the Associated Press. Dustin also produced a podcast series exploring family agriculture projects in Nashville. As the Communications Director, Dustin oversees the flow of internal and external communications. Dustin enjoys hiking, photography, and playing banjo and guitar for the captive audience of his dog, Otis. Email: dustin@northernplains.org


Karen Olson, Office Manager

Karen joined the Northern Plains staff in 2010. She grew up in Billings and earned a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies from Montana State University – Billings. Before coming to Northern Plains, Karen was a longtime network technician for Qwest and also worked in printing services for an office supply store. She has long been an active community volunteer. Karen performs a wide range of jobs to keep the office running smoothly, coordinates printing & mailing jobs, and works with a large team of volunteers. She enjoys photography/Photoshop, stained glass, creative home projects, and baking. Email: karen@northernplains.org


Melodie Snyder, Technical Assistant

Melodie is from a rural town in Washington state, and she started working at Northern Plains in 2021. She started her education at Centralia College, where she graduated as an Outstanding Student of the year and earned her Associate Degree in Mathematics. Melodie then moved to Montana and attended Rocky Mountain College where she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Small Business Management. She has volunteered over 600 hours with Americorp, led a group at RMC to help stop the hunger crisis in Billings, and was awarded the 25 Under 25 Forward Montana award in 2021 for her work to make Montana a better place. Her job includes data entry, processing accounts receivable, and managing thank-you letters. Email: melodie@northernplains.org