Name: Bill Kennedy
Official Title: President and Chief Executive Officer
A Billings West High School graduate and an Eastern Montana College alumnus, Bill joined the MSU Billings Foundation August 2016. Education is Bill’s first love and he is excited to help students, grow the workforce, and serve the community. Prior to his appointment and subsequent re-election as Yellowstone County Commissioner in 1993-2016 (retired), Kennedy taught seventh and eighth grades in Colstrip and K-8 grades in Billings at Billings Catholic Schools. He also served as Parish administrator for St. Thomas Church and as director of the Even Start Family Literacy Program for School District 2. Additionally, Bill has been a long-time community leader, serving on multiple volunteer boards and spear-heading initiatives for veterans, mental health services, and the reconstruction of MetraPark. Bill earned his bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Montana State University and his master’s degree in personnel and guidance from EMC (now MSU Billings).
Name: Jon Egeland
Official Title: Chief Financial Officer
Jon began working for the Foundation in September 1991. As Chief Financial Officer, his duties are to manage foundation assets to insure funds are used appropriately on behalf of MSU Billings within guidelines established by the Foundation’s donors and policies. Working for the Foundation is a natural fit for Jon; MSU Billings provided him with an excellent education and he has a strong belief in higher education and the value it provides to students who live, work and play in the Billings community. One of the things he finds most rewarding is connecting passionate donors with outstanding university leaders and students to improve and enhance educational opportunities and programs at MSU Billings. Jon holds a BSBA with an Accounting Option from MSU Billings.
Name: Shannon Behounek
Official Title: Director of Annual Giving & Executive Assistant to the CEO
Shannon first worked at the Foundation from December 2005 to June 2008, and then returned in July 2012. Shannon coordinates the Annual Drive for Excellence, which provides dollars to support the immediate needs of the University. Aspects of the Annual Drive for Excellence include the alumni phonathon, campus and community drives, direct mail, and the annual “An Evening with…” event. She also coordinates the creation, publication, and distribution of the Foundation’s informational pieces. Shannon takes great pride in raising funds which enable students to pursue their academic dreams. She loves hearing powerful student stories and how their scholarship allowed them to come to or stay in school to earn their degree and change their family’s future for the better. Shannon has a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics from the University of Montana.
Name: Jeanne Moller
Official Title: Development Officer – Wine & Food Festival
Jeanne began working at the Foundation in November 1995. Her role encompasses everything Wine & Food Festival related, from the first event of the year in September to the festival week in May. She works with over 200 volunteers, chefs, presenters, sponsors and donors to make sure the Wine & Food Festival goes off without a hitch. Jeanne works with an amazing team to raise scholarship dollars that provide life-changing opportunities to students and their families at MSU Billings, work she finds very rewarding. Jeanne earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing from Eastern Montana College (now MSU Billings) in 1984.
Name: Robbie Carpenter
Official Title: Development Officer – Campaign Director
Robbie joined the Foundation in August 2016. As the Campaign Director for the Foundation, Robbie’s first priority is to plan, direct and coordinate the fundraising campaign for the Yellowstone Science and Allied Health Building. The aged Science Building needs renovation and expansion to serve the hundreds of science and pre-professional nursing students with top flight classrooms and research facilities. Graduates will help fulfill the need for 15,500 health care employees in the next 10 years in the local community, and in turn, businesses that employ these graduates will benefit from their expertise and education by providing quality healthcare to the region. Robbie believes this is a win-win-win for everyone and is excited about moving the project forward. She has over 30 years’ experience in marketing, public relations, and fundraising.
Name: Kristi Farver Oaks
Official Title: Development Officer – Major Gifts
Kristi joined the Foundation in August 2017. She is an integral part of the team fundraising for the Yellowstone Science and Allied Health Building and will develop relationships with larger-capacity prospects and donors. Prior to joining the Foundation, Kristi worked for the American Cancer Society where she gained 20 years’ experience in fundraising, donor relations, and staff/volunteer management. Kristi attended Concordia College (Moorehead, Minn.) where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and Political Science in 1992.
Name: Mary Ann Keenan
Official Title: Development Officer
Mary Ann came to work at the Foundation in October 2016. Most of her professional employment has been in hotel sales. Her forte is forging close relationships with customers, donors, and co-workers. She firmly believes that, in sales and in fundraising for a worthy cause, the process should be a win for all parties – donors, MSU Billings, and especially for the students whose education will be enhanced by the new Yellowstone Science and Allied Health Building, as well as the people and organizations that will benefit from the expertise of those graduates. Mary Ann is intrigued by architecture and construction; once the new building is underway, you may find her on site wearing a hard hat and showing off the facility and its plans to prospective donors.
Name: Susan Rhodes
Official Title: Scholarship Administrator
Susan began working for the Foundation in September 1982. She works with donors to establish new annual or endowed scholarships, coordinates the annual selection of scholarship recipients with various on and off-campus selection committees, coordinates the distribution of the scholarship awards each semester with the Financial Aid and Business Offices, and notifies the scholarship recipients of their awards. She says the best part of her job is giving money to students! Reading the recipient’s thank-you letters and knowing how a scholarship has impacted a student’s life truly warms her heart. Susan received her Associates of Arts Degree in Business from Eastern Montana College (now MSU Billings) in 1973.
Name: Jennifer Ries
Official Title: Scholarship Associate
Jennifer Ries joined the Foundation in June 2015. She oversees the allocation and application of external scholarships to student accounts, assists in coordinating the selection and distribution of privately-funded scholarship awards, and corresponds with scholarship recipients. Every time Jennifer sends a scholarship award letter she knows she is helping a student get a little bit closer to achieving their goals, and that’s a powerful motivator. Prior to joining the Foundation, Jennifer worked in journalism, database management, and organizational communications. Jennifer attended Rocky Mountain College where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology in 2001.
Name: Kathy Greene
Official Title: Research and Records Coordinator
Kathy Greene began working for the Foundation in January 2018. Her main responsibilities include maintaining the Foundation’s extensive alumni, friends, and donors database, as well as research and producing data reports to support all fundraising activities of the Foundation. Prior to joining the Foundation, Kathy worked at American Cancer Society as an Office & Event Coordinator gaining experience in fundraising, data base maintenance and managing donor dollars.
Name: Sarah Haight
Official Title: Office Administrator & Events
Sarah officially joined the Foundation as a full-time employee in July 2017 after working in the office as a work-study student for the previous two years. She is responsible for assisting development staff with special events throughout the year and for maintaining a welcoming environment at the Foundation. She enjoys the variety of tasks and interactions she encounters on a daily basis. Sarah earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration: Management from MSU Billings in 2017.
Name: Vonda Lancaster
Official Title: Science Expo Coordinator
Vonda began her time at the Foundation in January 2018. After an extensive career in non-profit promotion and philanthropy, her skills translate seamlessly to organizing the MSU Billings and Billings Clinic Science Expo event. She enjoys helping people, volunteering and making a difference in the lives of students who may go on to pursuing careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). Vonda earned an Associate of Arts in Education at Miles Community College in 1992, followed by a Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion at MSU Billings in 2000.
Name: Gillette Vaira
Official Title: Director of Alumni Relations
Gillette came into her Foundation role in March 2018. Having worked in student affairs, journalism and public relations, her experiences are essential in engaging a vast network of MSU Billings alumni. She organizes alumni events, encourages graduate philanthropy and integrates new graduates into the alumni association. Gillette received her bachelor’s degree in mass communication from MSU Billings before earning her master’s degree in journalism at the University of Montana.
Name: Tiffini Gallant
Official Title: Alumni/Foundation Marketing Coordinator
Tiffini returned to the MSU Billings campus to coordinate marketing efforts for the Foundation and Alumni Association in February 2018. She worked previously in student affairs, and is excited to build relationships with alumni and generous donors who support the Foundation’s mission. She focuses primarily on marketing events, growing the Foundation’s digital presence and publication design. Tiffini graduated from MSU Billings with a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations in 2017 and is continuing her public relations education at Georgetown University.