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.
Amy grew up in eastern Montana and is the Clinical Director at Open Aid Alliance. Amy cares deeply about social justice and harm reduction. She graduated from the University of Montana, with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in social work. Previously, she served as the Executive Director of the Poverello Center and the National Association of Social Workers Montana Chapter. She also worked as a psychotherapist and specializes in issues related to domestic violence, LGBTQIA+ issues, and homelessness. In addition, she served on the board of directors for the YWCA of Great Falls. She was instrumental in the creation and development of the Great Falls LGBTQ Center.
When she is not working or volunteering, she enjoys spending time with family and going on adventures in remote corners of Montana on foot, skis, or mountain bike.
Harm Reduction Therapist, Uncovery
Pronouns: She, Her, Hers
Tomi has lived in the glorious state of Montana since 2012 and has worked for the amazing Open Aid Alliance Team since 2019. Tomi is passionate about harm reduction and the human potential for positive change and healing through connection and dignity. She studied Human and Family Development and has a Masters degree in Clinical Mental Health in support of this purpose.
Harm Reduction Therapy is a commonsense and humane approach to healing. A client does not need to be abstinent or even be seeking abstinence in order to receive counseling services. Instead, this risk reduction counseling honors and supports your right to choose what works best for you in your life. It's an honor to get to walk through the darkness and the light together.
When Tomi is not with all the cool folks at OAA, she's in the backcountry of the mountains, at a concert, or in a hammock or hot spring with the loving humans (and animals) in her life, and a good book.
Housing Program Director
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.
Prevention and Testing Program Director
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.
Director of Operations
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.
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.
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).
Harm Reduction Program Specialist
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.
Case Management Program Director
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.
Peer Support Specialist/Greeter Extraordinaire
When I moved to Missoula in 2019, one of the first things I did was to align myself with Open Aid Alliance. The values of acceptance, understanding and commitment to those struggling with life issues are the reason I am so committed to “paying it forward”. As the “senior” staff member I have the opportunity of sharing my life experiences on a daily basis with other staff, clients and participants. I am almost 4 years into recovery after 18 years of IV meth addiction; have been living with HIV/AIDS for over 15 years and am a cancer survivor.
As a peer support specialist, I am able to share my life experiences, but more importantly provide understanding, support and encouragement to clients/participants who are currently living with the struggles I did. My goal is to convey the message of hope to all I come in contact with.
As the first person participants/clients see coming in the door, my goal is to convey the feeling that all are welcome here…all are valued here…and we will try out hardest to see that their needs are met.
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.