Meet the OAA Team that is radically committed to hope and healing for our participants. We love what we do and who we do it for.
Pronouns: She, Her, Hers
Christa has been with Open Aid Alliance since 2008 when she began as an HIV Prevention Coordinator. She became the Executive Director in 2010 and has been dedicated to the evolution and growth of the organization ever since. She is passionate about providing leadership to address challenging and complex human conditions and Open Aid Alliance is a part of her heart. When the concept of harm reduction was introduced to her she could feel it ignite every cell of her body and knew that there could be no other right way for her.
Christa is a work in progress and she is humbly reminded of that daily as she navigates life both professionally as a leader and personally as a mother. Messy and Wildly Fulfilling are adjectives she might use to describe her life.
Harm Reduction Program Coordinator, Volunteer Intake Coordinator, Administrative Specialist
Pronouns: She, Her, Hers
Born and raised in Montana, Amanda has always had a passion for helping. After years in other helping positions, Amanda found her home and calling in harm reduction at Open Aid Alliance. Amanda is particularly passionate about supporting participants to become self-advocates and experts in their own lives. She fiercely believes in the right to self-determination. To her, harm reduction means love and empowerment. She plans to continue to fight for the rights of people facing stigma and to amplify their voices and stories whenever possible.
Amanda also loves spending time with her loved ones and her furbabies, reading, cooking and getting outdoors.
Hello OAA Family! I'm a NY native whose soul fell in love with the mountains and people of Missoula and feel privileged to get to be here helping this incredible community.
I studied Human and Family Development and have a graduate degree in Clinical Mental Health, which is nerd-talk to say that I am passionate about the human potential for change, growth, healing, and connection. Housing First is the philosophy that without a stable home, none of of our other needs can ever be adequately addressed; it is the foundation of healing and an honor to get to support our clients on that endeavour.
When I'm not with the cool folks at OAA, I'm in the backcountry, at a concert, hiking or snowboarding in the mountains, or in a hammock or hot spring with the incredible humans in my life, and good book. Come on in and say hello!
Pronouns: He, His, Him
I am a Certified Behavioral Health Peer Support Specialist (CBHPSS) at Open Aid Alliance, also known as “Peer Support.” What does this mean? It means ten years ago I found myself completely dependent on opiates and wanting help to negotiate that landscape. It was confusing, demoralizing, full of bad, stigma laden, biased information - just plain horrific. Today as a Peer Support specialist, using a “Harm reduction approach/philosophy,” I attempt to guide people, with respect and compassion who use, who want to stop using, or who are somewhat ambivalent about their use navigate the choices available to them with self-respect and confidence. OAA’s Mission to “…work with the unique potential of each individual to overcome stigma as they seek greater health” is the perfect platform for me to do what I do.
There is a line in the recovery world that “we are only as sick as our secrets.” One secret we rarely talk about is how we are all dependent on something, that if taken away will rock our worlds, and anyone, no matter, age, education, sex, religious affiliation, wealth, whatever indicators you choose, has the capacity to be the “the hateful words we use” and the people we fear. Language is the window to the soul.
My family immigrated to the United States from Albania which makes me a first generation American. I received my education in NYC and Missoula MT where I received a BS Geology, BA Archeology, and a MS Environmental Studies along with reading about many angles on many things. I have driven cabs in New York City, Studied Grizzly Bears in the Yellowstone Ecosystem, and worked as a geologist around the world - also I’m in Recovery.
IT Specialist, Intake Coordinator
Pronouns: He, Him, His
As a dad, punk rocker, and bicycle enthusiast. I appreciate the services, compassion, and understanding Open Aid Alliance provides people like me.
In IT for over 25 years, my work has mainly focused on the unique needs of small businesses and nonprofit organizations. I've helped my clients with basic computer service and desktop support to complete network and infrastructure management.
I have been involved with Open Aid Alliance for about 6 years in different capacities. As an IV drug user, I was a client of the syringe exchange program. As a volunteer, I assisted with various IT and program related matters. I am now employed full-time with OAA as their IT Specialist. At 49 years of age, I have found my passion. Supporting OAA so they can support their participants brings me joy and satisfaction each day.
Kristen grew up in a small town in Montana, and after spending 12 years in Atlanta she moved back to this beautiful state that has always been home to her.
With a Masters Degree in Community Counseling, Kristen’s passion lies in helping individuals realize their own unique potential. Kristen believes that through the Housing First philosophy she can successfully support participants in becoming the best versions of themselves.
During her downtime, Kristen loves to get creative in the kitchen, and enjoys sharing a great meal with family and friends. She has fun by staying active, whether that be meeting friends for a gym class, running a race, or hitting the slopes with her family.
Melissa first fell in love with harm reduction 6 years ago when she volunteered as a social work student at OAA. Since then Melissa has worked in many different capacities to help create a more equitable community and earned her Master degree in social work with an emphasis in social justice. Now with Melissa’s experience and education she knows with all her heart that harm reduction is the way to make real structural change towards a more humane and just world. In her current role at OAA, Melissa is passionate about healing the harms produced by drug-related stigma. Which is why she is committed to leading harm reduction into Montana’s recovery movement.
Melissa’s lived experience has led her to a personal mission grounded in radical love. In her personal time, she thrives in secrecy and solitude. Melissa most adores being the mother of her exceptional little family.
Offsite Services Coordinator
Pronouns: She, Her, Hers
Rebecca is a neurodivergent harm reduction geek with a passion for coordinating creative projects and connecting people. She believes every individual has the right to feel worthy of self-respect. It is an honor for Rebecca to be a part of Open Aid Alliance and to gratefully serve the people of Missoula and Lake Counties. She is an amateur horticulturist/meteorologist/food scientist and would love to see cute pictures of your dog(s).
Uncovery Clinical Director
Harm Reduction Program Specialist
We made a quick little time-lapse of everyone preparing the meal from our 2019 World AIDS Day Dinner. It was hectic due to a tight timeline, but everything fell into place like we planned and everyone had a good time. The food was excellent and it was a great staff experience. We have a great group here at OAA (if I do say so myself… and I do) and it was fun to do something different together.