Staff

Olivia Stockman, Staff Director

After leading our dedicated organizing team for ten years, Olivia accepted the role of Northern Plains’ Staff Director in 2019. Having grown up in the Midwest, Olivia earned degrees in political science (B.A. from the University of Kansas; M.A. from the University of New Mexico), and previously worked for the League of Conservation Voters, Service Employees International Union, Montana League of Rural Voters, and Western Organization of Resource Councils. She is known for her tenacious leadership, professionalism, and tireless organizing skills. Email: olivia@northernplains.org


Svein Newman, Political Organizing Director

Originally from Billings, Svein joined the staff in 2009 after graduating from the University of Montana in political science. During college, he volunteered with Students for Economic and Social Justice in a multi-year anti-sweatshop campaign (that was covered in The Nation and USA Today). He also volunteered for the Women’s Resource Center, and knocked on thousands of doors in canvassing efforts. He is the lead staff for our Coal Task Force and organizes in the Missoula area. Email: svein@northernplains.org


Maggie Gordon, Director of Mission Engagement

Maggie joined our staff in 2013. Hailing from 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. She is responsible for Northern Plains’ external fundraising efforts, the Grassroots Donor Campaign, strategic plan implementation, and a variety of financial and administrative duties. Maggie’s an avid gardener, backpacker, and baker. Email: maggie@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 with her family. 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 our issue campaigns. Sydney loves working with neighbors, community leaders, and activists to build thriving Montana communities. She staffs our Cooke City affiliate, Beartooth Alliance. Email: Sydney@northernplains.org


Caitlin Cromwell, Deputy Director of Organizing & Campaigns

Caitlin joined the Northern Plains staff in 2016. She grew up in Maryland, where she watched her dad raise chickens and keep bees and where she grew to love all things rural. 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 our leadership development program. Her favorite part of her job is getting to introduce people to their own power, and develop their leadership and confidence to participate in public life. She also leads our work on oil and gas and staffs our Glendive affiliate, Dawson Resource Council. Email: caitlin@northernplains.org


Makenna Sellers, Legislative Organizer

Makenna was born in Billings and joined the Northern Plains staff in 2017. She earned her degree in Environmental Studies and Sustainable Business from Gonzaga University, where she worked closely with the Office of Sustainability. After college, Makenna worked for Northern Plains as an intern and focused on oil and gas issue work as well as the climate issue canvass. She staffs our Helena affiliate, Sleeping Giant Citizens Council and works primarily on clean energy policy. Email: makenna@northernplains.org


Mikindra Morin, Community Organizer and Good Neighbor Agreement Manager

Hailing from Indiana, Mikindra joined our organizing team in 2018. Before coming to Northern Plains, Mikindra received a law degree from the University of Arizona before pursuing a graduate degree in Environmental Science (thesis in-progress) from Montana State University After working for various environmental law projects on the East Coast and directing an environmentally-focused canvass program in Minnesota, she is excited to be back in Montana. Mikindra manages our Good Neighbor Agreement (GNA) with Sibanye-Stillwater (formerly Stillwater Mining Company) and staffs our Sweetgrass County affiliate, Cottonwood Resource Council and our Gardiner affiliate Bear Creek Council. Email: mikindra@northernplains.org


Caroline Canarios, Community Organizer

Before coming to Northern Plains in 2018, Caroline worked as a Research Associate at the University of Mississippi 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 her original region to pursue a postgraduate degree in sociology from the University of Mississippi, where she found her niche working on agriculture and food issues. Caroline helps staff our Billings affiliate, Yellowstone Valley Citizens Council as well as our agriculture task force. Email: caroline@northernplains.org


Tai Koester, Community Organizer

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. Tai staffs our Soil Task Force as well as our Red Lodge affiliate, Carbon County Resource Council and our affiliate Stillwater Protective Association. Email: tai@northernplains.org.


Bronya Lechtman, Community Organizer

Hailing from Maryland, Bronya joined the organizing team in 2021. Before starting at Northern Plains, Bronya earned a degree in Environmental Policy from Colby College. While there, she was involved in organizations throughout Maine focused on sustainable agriculture and local food, and conducted research on the future of coal in Montana. After graduating, she worked on an organic farm in Western Maine. Bronya staffs our Lewistown affiliate, Central Montana Resource Council, and assists with the Coal Task Force. Email: bronya@northernplains.org


Ava Shearer, Community Organizer

Originally from Billings, Ava Shearer joined the staff in 2021. She attended the University of Montana and earned an undergraduate degree in journalism, with an emphasis on radio-television production. Before coming to Northern Plains, Ava worked on several political campaigns. Ava was the director of Northern Plains’ canvass to hold Montana’s Public Service Commission accountable, and then directed voter outreach for Montana Rural Voters. Ava staffs our Livingston affiliate, the Yellowstone Bend Citizens Council, and assists with the Clean Energy Task Force. Email: ava@northernplains.org


Mat Willey, Community Organizer

Born and raised in rural Illinois, Mat completed his undergraduate studies at Central College and earned a graduate degree as a fellow through the Stevenson Center at Illinois State University. Prior to changing career paths, Mat worked in a variety of sales, marketing, and communications roles. For the last few years, he worked on two presidential campaigns, a ballot petition effort, and a US Senate campaign. Mat staffs our Gardiner affiliate, Bear Creek Council, and assists with both the Oil and Gas Task Force and the Agriculture Task Force. Email: mat@northernplains.org


Steve Paulson, Development Coordinator

Hailing from South Dakota, Steve came to Northern Plains from a business background, joining the staff in 1992. He majored in political science (B.S. Ed. at Black Hills State University; M.S. at Utah State University) and wrote his thesis on mineral tax policy. Steve prepares grant proposals and reports, performs a wide range of editing, assists with hiring and financial tasks, and with other fundraising work. He authored the 2016 book Environmentalists: An Eyewitness Account from the Heart of America. Email: steve@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 our day-to-day accounting, transactions in our bank and brokerage accounts, and handles state and federal reporting requirements. She staffs our Investment Committee. Email: paula@northernplains.org


Caleb Lande, Director of Grassroots Fundraising

Born and raised in Montana, Caleb came to Northern Plains in 2008, originally as a research intern, then as an organizer. Caleb holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics from the University of Montana, where his thesis dealt with homeowners’ valuation of energy efficiency. Since 2012, he has led our membership development and grassroots fundraising efforts. Email: caleb@northernplains.org


Claire Overholt, Grassroots Outreach Coordinator

A former Jesuit Volunteer and canvasser for Northern Plains, Claire is our Grassroots Outreach Coordinator. Hailing from Colorado, she graduated with degrees in Environmental Studies and English from Santa Clara University in 2014. Before coming to Northern Plains, Claire worked for the Northern Cheyenne Department of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources in Lame Deer, Montana. Claire assists our communications and organizing teams by working on events, fundraising, and community outreach. Email: claire@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 self-produced a documentary project about criminal justice reform in Chicago, IL and produced multimedia work in collaboration with 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. Email: dustin@northernplains.org


Anna Kerr-Carpenter, Communications Coordinator

Originally from Sacramento, California, Anna has been a professional photographer for ten years. She got her degree in Anthropology from Illinois Wesleyan University in 2017 and in 2019 completed an online boot camp in User Interface Design. She has a particular interest in the branding and messaging of social movements. Before joining Northern Plains staff in 2020, she worked for CA House, an intentional living community in Davis, California where she got her first taste of non-profit communications. Anna maintains content and functionality for the website, designs print and digital outreach materials, and supports all organizational communications efforts. Email: anna@northernplains.org


Karen Olson, Office Manager

Karen joined the Northern Plains staff in 2010. She grew up in Billings and earned a bachelor’s 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 Office Max. She has long been an active community volunteer. Karen performs a wide range of jobs to keep our office running smoothly and works with a large team of volunteers. Email: karen@northernplains.org


Erin Keith, Technical Assistant

Erin joined Northern Plains in 2019. Originally from Washington State, she holds a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from the Evergreen State College. Before joining Northern Plains, she spent 2 years as a Washington Conservation Corps member working on environmental compliance issues followed by nearly 10 years conducting public education and outreach in the public sector.  Email: erin@northernplains.org


Jim Cooper, Facility Manager

Jim joined the Northern Plains staff in 2018 to oversee the care and maintenance of our Home on the Range. 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.