Meet the 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.
From Logging to Leading: Meet Christa Weathers of the Open Aid Alliance
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.
Amanda Reese: Data shows opioid, fentanyl overdoses rising in Montana
Monica graduated summa cum laude from Montana State University in May 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Business with Accounting and Finance Options. She was honored as the recipient of Montana State University’s 2018 Award for Excellence.
She has always wanted to help and support people and questioned if this was something she could accomplish with her education. She quickly learned that she could apply her financial skills to a purpose she believes in, and Open Aid has proven to be it.
When she is not working, you can find Monica on a hike with her dog Lucy or knitting and binge watching bad tv.
Pronouns: She, Her, Hers
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.
Pronouns: He, Him, His
A Montana lifer, Chantz is ecstatic to be returning to his homebase after 4 years away exploring Denver and Portland. He’s extremely thankful to be starting a position with OAA that will allow him to continue giving back to the great state that raised him and impressed upon him the importance of community and togetherness. Outside of work Chantz enjoys all forms of travel, live music and theatre, bowling, and winning all the board games.
Pronouns: She, They
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).
Dessilynn has lived in Montana for 24 years. In 2015 she found recovery and after 4 years, was looking for a job that had meaning and that could allow her to do what she loves doing, helping people. In the fall of 2019 she gratefully joined the OAA team. The ability she has to meet people where they are speaks volumes about the team she works with. Their knowledge and guidance has been a staple in her experience here. Enjoying the freedom of working on her own she thrives in the Polson office, knowing the team has her back.
Michelle grew up in Southern California and moved to Montana in 2016 to attend Montana State University. There she completed a B.S. Sociology, and minored in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Michelle now attends the University Of Montana where she will be completing a Master of Social Work degree in Spring of 2022. Although there are many soapboxes she could jump on right now, Michelle’s main passions are in anti-racism advocacy and working towards a community where all members can have their needs met with dignity and respect. She is stoked to be working at Open Aid Alliance and offering harm reduction-centered Case Management to participants.
In her (very rare) spare time, Michelle can be found playing video games or finding live music to groove to. She hopes to expand these hobbies after graduate school.
I grew up in Southern Oregon where I developed a passion for playing soccer and being outside (skiing, fishing, hiking). Life circumstances took me to Eugene, OR in 2015 and led me down a path of working directly with humans. I graduated from the University of Oregon with a B.S. in Psychology in 2021 before moving to Missoula to start working towards my masters in social work which I will complete in 2023. I am passionate about watching and helping people along their journey to finding recovery as it looks different for everyone. Harm reduction and OAA align with my personal beliefs that everyone deserves to be treated equitable, with dignity and respect.
When not at work I enjoy exploring my new home state, looking for new fishing spots or hiking in the mountains. If I'm not doing that I am spending time with friends or relaxing at home.
Pronouns: She, Her, Hers
Laurel moved to MT in 2015 and joined OAA in 2021. Previously Laurel worked as a field organizer, policy associate, and lobbyist for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Montana and the ACLU of Montana. In her freetime she can be found hiking, gardening, rewatching Stranger Things, and ranting about the legislature.
I have been involved with Open Aid Alliance for many years in different capacities. As an IV drug user, I was first a client of the syringe exchange program. During my active addiction, I first started helping OAA with their IT needs and was eventually asked to be a board member. Since that time I have worked on a number of projects with OAA. In my time with OAA, I've created new systems for gathering data needed for grants and agencies, I've increased our social media presence, redesigned our website, and more. There is always a project on the horizon waiting for me to finish what I'm working on.
One of my joys of working at OAA is that I'm supporting the staff that support our participants. I optimize and streamline, create processes and procedures, research and develop new ways of doing things so the time we have is focused on supporting clients, not dealing with an IT issue. I'm not always in the background, though. I get to help our participants directly on a daily basis. Sometimes it's just a simple greeting, other times, I'm dispensing syringes or finding a resource for a client. I love keeping that connection alive in me because it feels good to help and the help is appreciated. It helps me remember that I was on the receiving end not so long ago.
Besides all of the above, I am a dad, punk rocker, bicycle enthusiast, volunteer, and discovering addict. I appreciate the services, compassion and understanding Open Aid Alliance provides people like me.
Hollis is currently earning a master’s degree in social work at the University of Montana and plans to continue supporting the harm reduction movement and advocating for health equity for drug users after graduating. On the weekends they can be found hiking with their beloved dogs, skiing or very slowly riding a bike up (and hopefully) down a mountain.
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.