Montana Free Press is an independent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit source for Montana news, information, and analysis.
Our mission is to produce in-depth public-service journalism that creates positive change and helps move society toward justice and equity.
MTFP seeks to uncover the truth and bring to light essential news stories by studying arcane bureaucratic processes, seeking out dark corners of major institutions, digging deep into data and documents, and holding power accountable to the people.
We work independently and in collaboration with other news outlets to produce meaningful news stories that have an impact on the lives and livelihoods of local communities.
John S. Adams
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR / EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Veteran award-winning investigative and political reporter John S. Adams founded Montana Free Press in 2016. John was formerly the Capital Bureau Chief of the Great Falls Tribune and a correspondent for USA TODAY. John is known as a dogged investigator whose unbiased reporting has changed the shape of Montana politics. John serves on the board of the Montana Newspaper Foundation.
Brad edited the Missoula Independent 2002-2007 and 2016-2018. He also did two stints as managing editor of the Texas Observer. His book “Opportunity, Montana: Big Copper, Bad Water, and the Burial of an American Landscape” was published by Beacon Press. Contact Brad at firstname.lastname@example.org. There’s no good reason to follow him on Twitter.
Eric Dietrich a journalist and data designer and the founder of the Long Streets economic reporting project. He has worked for the Great Falls Tribune, Bozeman Daily Chronicle, and Solutions Journalism Network. Contact Eric at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter.
MTFP LOCAL EDITOR
Nick Ehli is a graduate of the University of Montana School of Journalism and has worked for Montana newspapers for more than 30 years, including a 14-year stint as editor of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. He was the founding editor-in-chief of Montana Quarterly magazine and currently teaches in the Honors College at Montana State University. Contact Nick at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DIGITAL PRODUCTION EDITOR
Stephanie Farmer serves as the Digital Production Editor for Montana Free Press. Previously, she had a brief stint in Washington, D.C. where she worked in the Office of Legislative and Public Affairs at the National Science Foundation. When she’s not at the office you can find her in the mountains with her husband and their dog. Contact Stephanie at email@example.com.
Billings native Amanda Eggert is a graduate of the University of Montana School of Journalism who has written for Outside magazine and Outlaw Partners. At Outlaw Partners she led coverage for the biweekly newspaper Explore Big Sky. Contact Amanda at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Raised in Arizona, Arren is no stranger to the issues impacting Western states, having a keen interest in the politics of land, transportation and housing. Prior to moving to Montana, Arren was a statehouse reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times and covered agricultural and trade policy for Politico in Washington, D.C. In Montana, he has carved out a niche in shoe-leather heavy muckraking based on public documents and deep sourcing that keeps elected officials uncomfortable and the public better informed. Contact Arren at email@example.com.
Alex Sakariassen has spent the past decade writing long-form narrative stories that spotlight the people, the politics, and the wilds of Montana. A North Dakota native, Sakariassen splits his free time between Missoula’s ski slopes and the quiet trout water of the Rocky Mountain Front. Contact Alex by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Silvers returns to her home state from producing Slate’s daily news podcast What Next. Before that she worked as a producer and reporter in the WNYC/Gothamist newsroom at New York Public Radio. Her work has been featured on NPR, The United States of Anxiety, The Takeaway, Nancy, and Montana Public Radio. Contact Mara at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter.
local news reporter – Helena
JoVonne Wagner is a graduate from the University of Montana School of Journalism who joined the Free Press as their Indigenous Montana Legislative fellow earlier this year. Now, JoVonne is back full time as the Helena local reporter, focusing on local government, business, education and more. JoVonne is from Heart Butte and a member of the Blackfeet Nation. Prior to her local reporting title, she has interned at Buffalo’s Fire and ICT, formerly known as Indian Country Today, along with working for the Montana Media Lab housed by the School of journalism. Contact JoVonne at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DIRECTOR OF PARTNERSHIPS AND ADVANCEMENT
Kristin Cordingley is the Director of Partnerships and Advancement at Montana Free Press. Prior to joining MTFP, Kristin was the Program Director at Montana Conservation Voters and spent a decade in Washington, DC, working for Dropbox, Apple, and on the Hill for U.S. Senator Max Baucus and the Senate Finance Committee. Contact Kristin at email@example.com.
MEMBERSHIP AND EVENTS MANAGER
Overholt supports MTFP’s audience engagement work as the Membership and Events Manager. Originally from Colorado, her time in eastern Montana has included work in childhood literacy as an AmeriCorps volunteer, Tribal natural resources field work, environmental education, and, most recently, fundraising and event coordination for Montana nonprofits. Outside of her remote office, Claire can be found on a bike ride, at the library, or cooking something new. Contact Claire at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sarah Penix is the Development Manager at Montana Free Press. Prior to joining MTFP, Sarah worked as a manager on the development team at the Poverello Center in Missoula and served as an Americorps VISTA at Montana Farm to School. She enjoys hiking, reading mystery novels and volunteering. Contact Sarah at email@example.com.
DIRECTOR OF AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT
Nate Schoenfelder is an accomplished marketing and communications specialist serving Montana Free Press as Director of Audience Engagement. Prior to joining MTFP, Nate served on the leadership team of software solutions company Pingman Tools as Marketing and Communications Manager. An Idaho native, Nate brings his decade of professional experience to Montana in support of growing MTFP’s readership, recognition, and reach. Contact Nate at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kristin Tessman is the Deputy Director at Montana Free Press. Before joining MTFP, Kristin was the Executive Director of AJAY MT and brings with her fundraising, program development and nonprofit management experience. Kristin was born and raised in the southeast and earned her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Georgia. In 2015 she moved to Montana with her husband and two daughters. Contact Kristin at email@example.com.
Victoria Eavis is a reporter based in Bozeman. Originally from New York, she made her way to Montana by way of Wyoming where she worked as a politics reporter for the Casper Star-Tribune. Before that, she worked at NPR. Contact Victoria at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter.
Cameron Evans is a freelance journalist based in Missoula. Cameron is a graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism and worked for the Missoulian. Her work has appeared in USA Today, Kaiser Health News, Business Insider and INSIDER. Find her at cameronevans.me.
Justin Franz is a writer, photographer and editor based in the Flathead Valley. Originally from Maine, he is a graduate of the University of Montana’s School of Journalism and worked for the Flathead Beacon for nine years before becoming associate editor of Railfan & Railroad Magazine in 2020. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, Seattle Times and New York Times. Find him at justinfranz.com or follow him on Twitter.
Johnathan Hettinger is based in Livingston. Originally from Central Illinois and a graduate of the University of Illinois, he has worked at the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, the Livingston Enterprise and the (Champaign-Urbana) News-Gazette. Contact Johnathan at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter.
Max Savage Levenson
Max Savage Levenson writes “The Sit-Down” column for Montana Free Press. Max is additionally the founder of Big Sky Chat House, a weekly long-form interview newsletter featuring movers and shakers across Montana. His writing on music and cannabis policy has appeared in outlets including Pitchfork, NPR’s All Songs Considered, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Reason.
Anna Paige is a Montana-based arts journalist and co-host of “Resounds: Arts and Culture on the High Plains” on Yellowstone Public Radio. She’s worked in the newspaper and publishing industry since 2004, most recently for the Billings Gazette as an arts and entertainment journalist. She is also the co-founder of Young Poets, a nonprofit teaching poetry in regional elementary schools and winner of the 2021 Library of Congress Award for Literacy.
Skylar Rispens is a freelance journalist based in Missoula. Skylar grew up in Helena and graduated from the University of Montana’s School of Journalism and has worked as a reporter for the Seeley Swan Pathfinder, the Great Falls Tribune and the Missoulian. Find her on social media @skylar_rispens
Matt Standal is a Montana-based multimedia journalist with a background in filmmaking and outdoor education. While he’s produced stories for local news broadcasters in Minnesota and Idaho, Matt’s favorite job is leading backcountry ski tours in Yellowstone National Park. He’s also a former PADI scuba instructor, emergency medical technician and devoted book nerd. You can find Matt teaching avalanche safety classes when he’s not working with film crews or digging into stories.
Emily Stifler Wolfe
An independent writer based in Bozeman, Emily Stifler Wolfe has reported hundreds of stories for publications including Esquire, Outside, Powder, and National Geographic Adventure. She was the founding editor of Explore Big Sky newspaper and Mountain Outlaw magazine, and before that, a professional ski patroller at Moonlight Basin. She has two young children and a spotted donkey named Jack. Find her at emilystiflerwolfe.com.
No shouting. No name calling. Just award-winning local journalism for Montanans by Montanans.
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Montana Free Press Board
Skylar Browning, Interim Board Chair— Skylar is an award-winning writer and editor, published author, and communications director for one of the nation’s leading multifamily real estate firms. His work has been honored by the Montana Newspaper Association and the Society of Professional Journalists, and he received an NEA fellowship from the Arts Journalism Institute at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. “Montana Baseball History,” his first book, co-authored by Jeremy Watterson, was published in 2015.
Mark Huber, Board Treasurer — Mark grew up in Kalispell, graduated from Northwestern University and received a master’s degree with majors from John Hopkins University in International Economics, European Studies and American Foreign Policy. Mark’s career in banking began at Chase Manhattan, where he moved from New York City to Hong Kong, spending 23 years with Chase and one year with Citibank before returning to Montana to serve as Market President for US Bank in Helena. Now in retirement, Mark splits his time between Helena and Redmond, Oregon, where his wife, Christina, is a nurse practitioner. He has two grown children — a software engineer in Chicago and an American History teacher in New Jersey.
Alexis Bonogofsky, Interim Board Secretary — Alexis is a rancher, organizer and freelance writer and photographer who lives and works along the Yellowstone River in southeastern Montana on her family’s ranch. For eleven years, she managed the Tribal Lands Partnership Program, where she worked with Montana tribes and inter-tribal organizations on energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, bison restoration to tribal lands, protection of sacred and historical sites and wildlife conservation. In 2014 Alexis was awarded a Cultural Freedom Fellowship from the Lannan Foundation.
Anne Avis, Board Member — Anne is an experienced board leader in independent nonprofit journalism. She co-chairs the boards of Internews, a global media development organization, and KQED, public media in the Bay Area. She also serves on the board of Tinworks Art in Bozeman. Since 1994, Anne and her husband, Greg, have split their time between the Bay Area and Clyde Park, MT.
John Brueggeman, Board Member — John is a successful businessman and entrepreneur with extensive experience in the public and private sectors. John is a Montana-based executive vice president of the Motor Vehicle Software Corporation. Before that, he served for 10 years as a Republican in the Montana Legislature. He was first elected to the House at age 21 and went on to serve in the state Senate, where he chaired the Transportation Committee.
Drew Geiger, Board Member — Drew is a consultant specializing in human resource management and governmental affairs, focusing on local and state government. He has more than 25 years of experience working with private and public sector organizations. Drew is a former policy analyst for the National Conference of State Legislatures and served as communications director for the Montana Department of Commerce. Drew was also the former lead staff to the Montana Legislature’s Economic Affairs Committee.
Susan Fox, Board Member — Susan grew up in Billings and recently retired from the Montana Legislative Services Division. She retired after 16 years as executive director. Prior to that, she worked 14 years as a research analyst and spent the 1989 and 1991 sessions working for the Senate and House, respectively. She also worked for the Department of Institutions and Board of Crime Control from 1987-1991. A University of Montana graduate with a master’s degree in sociology, Fox lives in Helena and enjoys time with her family on the Stillwater River.
Tresa V. Smith, Board Member — Tresa comes from a Montana pioneer ranching family, and her career spans the political, not-for-profit, and business worlds. She received her PhD in government from Georgetown University and worked in the White House under the Johnson and Carter administrations. Tresa specialized in press, scheduling and advance, and fundraising on seven presidential campaigns, including Joe Biden’s first presidential bid, and worked in numerous gubernatorial and senatorial races, including Max Baucus’ first Senate campaign. In the not-for-profit world, Tresa was the director of development for The League of Conservation Voters, the international foundation Ashoka, and The Nature Conservancy of Montana. In business, she was among the initial U.S. importers of the Brazilian Mangalarga Marchador horse, the first to introduce the breed to Montana, and a co-founder and president of the U.S. Mangalarga Marchador Association. She lives on her family’s cattle ranch in Boulder, Montana.
AWARDS AND HONORS
|2022 SPJ NW Excellence in Journalism Contest: Audio, Feature-Hard News, 1st place small||Bozeman is in a housing death spiral. Can local politics fix anything?||Eric Dietrich|
|2022 SPJ NW Excellence in Journalism Contest: Audio, Health Reporting, 1st place small||The politics of death and dying||Mara Silvers|
|2022 SPJ NW Excellence in Journalism Contest: Arts & Culture Reporting, 1st place medium||New music considers complex history of Montana’s Catholic missions||Anna Paige|
|2022 SPJ NW Excellence in Journalism Contest: Education Reporting, 2nd place medium||‘Survival mode’ in Lame Deer||Jill Van Alstyne|
|2022 SPJ NW Excellence in Journalism Contest: Government & Politics Reporting, 2nd place medium||The gospel — and the GOP — according to J.D. Hall||Arren Kimbel-Sannit|
|2022 SPJ NW Excellence in Journalism Contest: LGBTQ+ Equity Reporting, 1st place medium||The LGBTQ-owned bookstore that rallied a community||Mara Silvers|
|2022 SPJ NW Excellence in Journalism Contest: Series, 2nd place medium||The Montana Constitution at 50||Eric Dietrich, Mara Silvers, Alex Sakariassen, Amanda Eggert, Chuck Johnson|
|2022 SPJ NW Excellence in Journalism Contest: Technology & Science Reporting, 1st place medium||Common Ground, Part III: Rebuilding soil by building relationships||Emily Stifler Wolfe|
|2023 Montana Better Newspaper Contest: Best Portrait Photo, 1st place, division 5||A Bison Range homecoming||Sarah Mosquera|
|2023 Montana Better Newspaper Contest: Best News Story, 1st place, division 5||‘Come Home Montana’ push collides with housing angst||Amanda Eggert|
|2023 Montana Better Newspaper Contest: Best Education Coverage, 2nd place, division 5||‘Survival mode’ in Lame Deer||Jill Van Alstyne|
|2023 Montana Better Newspaper Contest: Best Website, 2nd place, division 5||Website||MTFP Staff|
|2023 Montana Better Newspaper Contest: Best Investigative Journalism, 3rd place, division 5||Election skepticism and the search for a smoking gun||Alex Sakariassen|
|2023 Montana Better Newspaper Contest: Best Feature Story, 3rd place, division 5||‘Survival mode’ in Lame Deer||Jill Van Alstyne|
|2023 LION Awards: Product of the Year, Large Revenue Tier||2023 Capitol Tracker||MTFP Staff|
|Best of the West Contest: Explanatory Reporting||Common Ground, Part I: ‘Soil is our livelihood and we better protect it, or we’re screwed.’||Emily Stifler Wolfe & Jason Thompson|
|Montana Newspaper Association Better Newspaper Contest: Best Breaking News Coverage, 1st place division 5||Dozens rally for parental rights, and against mask mandates||Alex Sakariassen|
|Montana Newspaper Association Better Newspaper Contest: Best Continuing News Coverage, 2nd place division 5||How Montana got its new congressional map||Eric Dietrich|
|Montana Newspaper Association Better Newspaper Contest: Best Education Coverage, 3rd place division 5||Republicans bring race-based education debate to Montana||Alex Sakariassen|
|Montana Newspaper Association Better Newspaper Contest: Best Feature Story, 3rd place division 5||Growing home in Ekalaka||Eric Dietrich|
|Montana Newspaper Association Better Newspaper Contest: Best Website, 2nd place division 5||Website||Nate Schoenfelder, Stephanie Farmer, John Adams, Eric Dietrich, Brad Tyer|
|Montana Newspaper Association Better Newspaper Contest: Mark Henckel Outdoor Writing Award, 1st place division 5||Crazy Mountains at a Crossroads||Amanda Eggert|
|Montana Newspaper Association Better Newspaper Contest: Mark Henckel Outdoor Writing Award, 2nd Place division 5||Trout in trouble||Amanda Eggert|
|Montana Newspaper Association Better Newspaper Contest: Mark Henckel Outdoor Writing Award, 3rd place division 5||Sharing the love of the Lower Yellowstone||Amanda Eggert|
|LION Local Journalism Awards: Business of the Year||MTFP Staff|
|LION Local Journalism Awards: General Excellence: Operational Resilience||MTFP Staff|
|LION Local Journalism Awards: Product of the Year||2022 Election Guide||MTFP Staff|
|Local Media Association Digital Innovation Awards: Best Reader Revenue Strategy, 3rd Place||MTFP Staff|
|Local Media Association Digital Innovation Awards: Best Local Website, 2nd Place||Website||MTFP Staff|
|Local Media Association Digital Innovation Awards: Best COVID-19 Local Community Coverage, 3rd Place||COVID-19 Coverage||MTFP Staff|
|Montana Newspaper Association Better Newspaper Contest: Best Breaking News Coverage, 3rd place division 5||Construction site in Big Sky generates more than 100 COVID-19 cases||Johnathan Hettinger|
|Montana Newspaper Association Better Newspaper Contest: Best Continuing News Coverage, 1st place division 5||Vacation rental data suggests visitors seeking shelter in Montana||Johnathan Hettinger|
|Montana Newspaper Association Better Newspaper Contest: Best Education Coverage, 1st place division 5||‘It would be nice to have some kind of a plan.’||Mara Silvers|
|Montana Newspaper Association Better Newspaper Contest: Best News Story, 1st place division 5||Rural hospitals, beyond the rhetoric||Alex Sakariassen|
|Montana Newspaper Association Better Newspaper Contest: Best Website, 1st place division 5||Website||MTFP staff|
|Montana Newspaper Association Better Newspaper Contest: Mark Henckel Outdoor Writing Award, 3rd place division 5||Recovered to death?||Johnathan Hettinger|
|2020 SPJ Region 10 Excellence in Journalism: Audio: Government and Politics Reporting||Shared State Episode 3: ‘Grateful to God’||Mara Silvers|
|2020 SPJ Region 10 Excellence in Journalism: Photo and Design: Graphics and Illustration||Data Visualization||Eric Dietrich|
Editorial Independence Policy
We subscribe to standards of editorial independence adopted by the Institute for Nonprofit News:
MTFP is supported by individuals and organizations who value in-depth, investigative news coverage and analysis. We are an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization that retains 100% authority over our editorial content to protect the journalistic and business interests of our organization. We maintain a firewall between news coverage decisions and sources of all revenue. Acceptance of financial support does not constitute implied or actual endorsement of donors or their products, services, or opinions.
MTFP accepts gifts, grants, and sponsorships from individuals and organizations for the general support of our activities, but our news judgments are made independently and not on the basis of donor support.
MTFP may consider donations to support the coverage of particular topics, but our organization maintains editorial control of the coverage. We will cede no right of review or influence of editorial content, nor of unauthorized distribution of editorial content.
Montana Free Press does not and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, gender expression, age, national origin, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations. These activities include, but are not limited to, hiring and firing of staff, selection of volunteers and vendors, and provision of services. We are committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all members of our staff, clients, volunteers, subcontractors, vendors, and clients.
Montana Free Press is an equal opportunity employer. We will not discriminate and will take affirmative action measures to ensure against discrimination in employment, recruitment, advertisements for employment, compensation, termination, upgrading, promotions, and other conditions of employment against any employee or job applicant on the bases of race, color, gender, national origin, age, religion, creed, disability, veteran’s status, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
We are a proud member of several professional associations and industry groups:
Advertising Acceptability Policy
Montana Free Press reserves the right to accept or decline any advertisement or sponsorship it is offered.
Montana Free Press will decline to accept advertising that it knows or believes to be misleading, inaccurate, fraudulent, or illegal, or that fails to comply, in Montana Free Press’ sole determination, with its standards of decency, taste, or dignity.
Montana Free Press, like all quality publishers of original journalism, maintains a clear separation between news and advertising content. Advertising that attempts to blur this distinction in a manner that, in Montana Free Press’ judgment, confuses readers will be rejected.