Board & Staff

Meet the friendly faces that work behind the scenes at the Bozeman Public Library Foundation. The Foundation is led by an all-volunteer Board of Directors. A professional staff raises and administers gifts and ensures the quality and effectiveness of funded programs.

Board of Directors

Tom Stonecipher

Tom Stonecipher

President

Tom  is from the Midwest, principally Indiana. He enjoyed a wide-ranging law practice with larger firms in Chicago for 18 years and thereafter in Bozeman for the last 28 years, where he co-founded a law firm with a strong Montana-based civil practice. He has canoed many of Montana’s wild rivers and became a solidly mediocre skier. He has been a supporter of the MSU and local libraries for years, for he believes they can be both enriching and, for some, life-changing. Tom graduated from Dartmouth College in 1968 with a degree in philosophy and from the Indiana University School of Law in Bloomington in 1974. In between, he was a member of the United States Army and spend a year in Vietnam, serving in the field artillery.

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Laura Cunningham

Laura Cunningham

Vice President / Secretary

Laura returned to Montana in 1999 and she and her husband, Terry, run a sales promotion agency called Cottonwood Enterprises. Laura has served on several boards and has enjoyed community and volunteer service in Bozeman for many years. In Atlanta, Laura worked for Turner Broadcasting Systems and was the Director of Marketing for the children’s book division of Turner Publishing.

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Kit Heffner

Kit Heffner

Treasurer

Kit currently serves as a Professor of Management at MSU and a Board Director for several multi-national companies while also actively supporting Montana’s small business start-up community. He spent the majority of his career working in Southeast Asia and Africa, first managing companies for Chevron and then building start-up companies in frontier markets such as Myanmar and Cambodia. Kit received his Bachelor’s degree from Wharton at the University of Pennsylvania and has an MBA from Kellogg at Northwestern University. He has lectured at Harvard Business School on Globalization and Emerging Markets. Kit believes that engaging with the outside world is vital to our long term success both here in Montana as well as for the United States as a whole.

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Diana Blank

Diana Blank

Diana moved to Bozeman from Atlanta and has been involved with many non-profit boards, including Literacy Volunteers for America, Atlanta and National Parks Conservation Association, Washington, DC. She taught Great Books to elementary school children and sponsored the "I Have a Dream" program in Atlanta. In her spare time enjoys Bozeman's outdoor activities: hiking, gardening, cross-country skiing, and being a CAP mentor.

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Cindy Christin

Cindy Christin

Cindy retired from the Children's Room at the Bozeman Public Library in August 2021, after 33 years of helping kids find books and planning programs to welcome kids and families to play and learn at the Library. She was active in creating the Children's Festival of the Book in 2008, and was awarded the Montana Librarian of the Year in 2020. Cindy continues to work on early literacy issues with the Montana State Library, and was involved in the national Collaborative Summer Library Program for the past 20 years. She volunteers with the Food Bank, the CAP program, and Pecha Kucha. Cindy loves to walk with friends, cross-country ski, swim, hike, and of course, read!

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Marley McKenna

Marley McKenna

Marley is co-owner of McKenna Adams Commercial Realty, which specializes in creating long-lasting relationships to foster healthy and sustainable growth and development in and around Bozeman. Marley has a passion for community involvement and previously sat on the BridgerCare board, the Women’s Business Center advisory board and the Downtown Bozeman advisory board. She is currently on the Prospera Business Network board and the Downtown Urban Renewal District board. Marley is a 5th generation Montanan and enjoys biking, skiing, boating, and playing in the great outdoors with her husband and daughter. She has a MA in Literature and was an adjunct professor at MSU, and continues to write and read as much as possible.

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Connie Ostrovsky

Connie Ostrovsky

A proud Butte native, Connie left Montana to attend the University of Southern California. After the birth of her son, she and her family moved to Bozeman to return to a life of authenticity and outdoor magic. Her background includes public relations specializing in product publicity and event planning, Pilates instructor, and other entrepreneurial endeavors. Her passions include Holocaust education and instructional programs that combat discrimination and prejudice. Connie fosters the ideal of the public library being a community gathering place, an inclusive safe place for all.

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Tom Whyel

Tom Whyel

Tom is the Senior Financial Planning and Analysis Manager at Copado, a technology startup in the DevOps industry. Tom began his career in the consulting industry, focusing on accounting and merger and acquisitions. He received his Bachelor's degree from Elon University and Master's degree from Wake Forest University. He enjoys spending time in the outdoors fly fishing, rafting, and camping with his wife and dog. He also serves on the investment committee of the One Valley Community Foundation.

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Nicholas Wickes

Nicholas Wickes

Nicholas is a managing partner of Feast Raw Bar and Bistro. After growing up in London and studying at Vanderbilt he worked in enterprise software for fortune 250 IT and pharmaceutical companies in London and San Francisco. In 2008 Nicholas moved to Bozeman. He has served on the board of the Gallatin Art Crossing, Good for Kids Foundation, and From the Fishouse. Wickes believes the Bozeman Public Library is a cornerstone of our community and vital to our growth.

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Staff

Janay Johnson

Janay Johnson

Foundation Director

Janay grew up in the Midwest, but has called Bozeman home since 1992. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from the University of Kansas. Most of her professional life has been spent in development and leadership roles for local nonprofit organizations, including the Yellowstone Park Foundation and American Prairie Reserve. Janay became Director of the Library Foundation in January of 2017. She is thrilled to spend her days raising funds to support the community’s top-notch library and its programs. She enjoys spending time outdoors skiing, hiking and camping with her husband and daughter.

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Sonja Bahr

Sonja Bahr

Director of Development & Communications

Sonja is a born and raised Montanan and long-time Bozeman resident. She has spent most of her professional life in fundraising roles to support the arts and education. In 2022, she earned the Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) credential by meeting a series of professional standards and passing a rigorous written exam. Sonja holds an A.A. from The Art Institute of Seattle and a B.A. in Liberal Studies from Montana State University. Outside of work, Sonja enjoys spending time at the small cabin she and her husband designed and are building, hosting gatherings, cheering on her MSU Bobcats, cross-country skiing, and being on the water. She is an incredibly proud mom of two fantastic "kids", her son and daughter-in-law.

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Kerry Williams

Kerry Williams

Operations Manager

Kerry loves to lend her organizational expertise to the world of nonprofits, and to the Bozeman Public Library especially, where she has previously worked as a Children’s Librarian. She earned her master’s degree in Health and Human Development from MSU, and before that enjoyed the mountains of Vermont, earning her bachelor’s degree from Middlebury College. She was instrumental in starting up Roots Family Collaborative, which supports postpartum families in the Gallatin Valley, and currently serves as their Treasurer. She has lived in Bozeman since 1996 with her husband and their two 7th generation Montanan boys, who love to adventure outside when not whipping through one good book after another!

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Advisory Council

John Angst

John Angst

Born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, John loves the outdoors and finding the next adventure. An avid Library supporter, he is also a marketing specialist and real estate agent. He is passionate about connecting people, guiding those discovering Montana, and helping them land well in the Gallatin Valley.

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Allison Bryan

Allison Bryan

Allison is the Founder and Creative Director of Open Studio Collective, a woman-owned design studio in Bozeman. She is a multi-disciplinary designer with a background in both graphic design and architecture. Allison enjoys working at all scales, with an emphasis on community and wellness-based projects. A licensed architect in Oregon and Montana, she is also a LEED accredited professional. She currently sits on the design review board for the City of Bozeman. Allison is excited to lend her expertise to help the Library flourish as a space that encourages education, community discussion, and deep connection.

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Joan Ghassemi

Joan Ghassemi

Joan is new to Bozeman after living in Tampa Bay, where she worked as an attorney and served on several boards. She has owned and managed businesses and is looking forward to devoting her time and talents to benefit the Library and its endeavors.

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Andrea Lambert

Andrea Lambert

A Montana native, Andrea has lived and worked in Bozeman since 2002. A graduate of MSU-Bozeman with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, Andrea is an avid reader and firm believer in the importance of early childhood reading and education. She works as a professional fundraiser at Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter and is a board member for the Association of Fundraising Professionals Montana Chapter. Andrea enjoys spending time with her family, walking her dog, and gardening.

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April Lehman

April Lehman

Bozeman reminds April of growing up in her hometown in Texas, where cows could be found a few blocks away on the other side of the highway. The local library was a gathering place there too, and she recalls the joy of choosing books and materials. As the first in her family to go to college and a career that followed in Washington, DC, she relishes the gift of lifelong learning.  April has volunteered as a tutor and served as one of the founders of a school to benefit underprivileged children. As a fairly new homeowner in the Bozeman area, April is pleased to find a project where her family can give back to the town that has already shared so much. She currently resides in southern California with her husband, Dirksen, and three children.

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Jelani Mahiri

Jelani Mahiri

Jelani Mahiri is a parent, university instructor, musician, photographer, and designer. He was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, where he first became enamored with the power and pleasures of public libraries as well as documentary photography.  He completed his Bachelor's degree in Physics and Spanish at Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA, where he also participated in swimming and diving and was a lifeguard during the 1996 Olympics. Jelani went on to study sociocultural anthropology and folklore at UC Berkeley where he completed his Master's degree and Ph.D. While living in Bozeman, he has taught and performed salsa dancing and played in a number of local bands. Jelani currently teaches part-time at Montana State University, works in construction and landscaping around the Gallatin Valley, and faces the daily challenges and joys of parenting a young teenager.

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Rachel Ruggles

Rachel Ruggles

Rachel has spent most of the last decade teaching technology and library sciences in rural school communities in the Gallatin Valley. She received her Bachelor's degree in geology in 2001 and worked in the oil and gas industry for several years prior to pursuing a Master's of Education in Curriculum and Instruction. She has called Bozeman home since 2001. Rachel treasures the many facets of the library and the community it continually offers her and her family. She prefers wearing skis to shoes—you can often find her at Bridger Bowl chasing her kids down the slopes or shooting biathlon at Crosscut.

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