Who we are:
Christel is a Bozeman native and graduate of Montana State University (MSU). Upon graduating from MSU, Christel received her Masters of Nonprofit Management and Leadership from Walden University. After a decade of experience in the nonprofit industry, Christel went on to receive her CFRE, which is an internationally recognized fundraising certification. Most recently, Christel held the position of Development Director at Central Asia Institute, fundraising globally to help ensure women and girls in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Tajikistan had the opportunity to receive an education. Prior to this position, Christel worked locally at the Gallatin Valley YMCA and Human Resource Development Council in their Head Start program. Christel and her husband were married in 2008, and are the parents of two wonderful boys aged 7 and 9. In her spare time, she enjoys mentoring individuals who are just starting their nonprofit careers, serving on local nonprofit boards, enjoying the outdoors, and spending her weekends cheering on her two sons on the pool deck.
Sally Hickey, Board President—Sally has been a board member since October 2009. As a native of Bozeman, Sally has seen the community grow and change. She feels Befrienders is a vital part of our community because it offers seniors an opportunity to stay connected with society and a friend with whom to share their lives. Sally has been an independent business owner since 1991. She has served on numerous committees in Gallatin County–Gallatin Association of Realtors, Southwest MT Building Industry Association and the MT Association of Realtors.
Caryle Merrill, Board Secretary—Caryle moved to Bozeman in 1990 with her late husband, Befrienders founder Pete Merrill. In order to learn more about our community they involved themselves in several volunteer activities, including CAP, Eagle Mount and the Chamber of Commerce. Caryle continues to be an active community volunteer today.
Jane Schultz, Board Treasurer—Jane has been on the board since November 2007. She is a CPA with Anderson Zurmuehlen. Jane loves to go hiking and cross-country skiing in her spare time. She’s a Montana native and has lived in the Bozeman area all her life.
Deb Albin – Board Member – Deb is a native Montanan and Montana State University Alumni who earned a B.S. in Sociology and an M.S. in Public Relations. She works with MSU Extension Community Development, where she serves all Montanans by developing and delivering programs that improve the well-being of individuals, families and communities. Her current focus is developing LGBTQ resources and initiating StoryCorp interviews between youth and their elders in an effort to preserve stories of rural Montana. Deb was previously the program manager for the Montana Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Project, where she discovered her deep love for working with seniors. She was also a Thrive CAP mentor, where she experienced the amazing impact of a one-on-one intergenerational friendship. Working with the Befrienders team is the perfect opportunity to blend these two passions. Deb is an avid reader, writer and film buff and can usually be found with her head in a book or sitting in a dark movie theater and – weather permitting – fly fishing and hiking.
Amanda Torgerson – a Montana State Alumni, was born and raised in Bozeman, Montana. She is the proud parent of three children who are the 6th generation of Amanda’s family to be born and raised in Bozeman. Amanda and her husband Jason were married in the mountains outside of Bozeman in October of 2009 followed by the addition of their kids Reier, Hannah, and Otto (and their Bernadoodle named Rolli). Upon graduating from MSU with a bachelor’s degree in Business, Amanda received her Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) while working in the mortgage industry. More than a decade later as a top producing loan officer in Bozeman, it is still her passion to assist clients with their home loan needs. In 2017 she joined PrimeLending in opening their first Montana office in Bozeman. As the Bozeman office Production Manager she works with her clients to achieve their dreams while mentoring and managing the Montana branch to do the same. While Amanda is passionate about her career, she loves a good campfire and exploring the shores of Flathead Lake.
Amanda was welcomed to the Befrienders Board of Directors in the Fall of 2017 and is excited to be a part of an organization that is committed to the senior residents of Gallatin Valley, many of whom helped build the community that is her heritage and the home to a future generation of Bobcats!
Karrie Rhodes – Board Member – I first learned about Befrienders via my job at Highgate Senior Living. I had not really considered the daily lives of seniors as I had not been close to my grandparents, geologically speaking, and being a single mother I was focused on raising my son. Thank God for my parents and their close relationship with my son, but I didn’t until very recently even see them as seniors. I first came to Highgate as a receptionist, but very quickly knew that I wanted to be a part of the Life Enhancement team. I can not tell you how often I have said to people “I can not believe that they pay people to do this!” What does my job en-tale? I get to teach exercise classes, painting classed, sign language classed, I call Bingo, play games, oversee events, host socials, go shopping with, dine out with and basically hang out with Grandparents! Love it! My job is to make their day one of purpose and meaning. Befrienders offers this on a personal level, and it is so needed in the community. Adopt a grandparent and grow. It makes both lives so rich.
Jessica Stillman, Transition Assistant – Jessica, a Bozeman native and graduate of Montana State University, comes to Befrienders from the Downtown Bozeman Partnership where she was their Operations Manager for the past 4.5 years. Over the years she has been involved with numerous community organizations including the Verge Theater, KGLT, and the University Neighborhood Association. She brings a knowledge of community events and outreach, as well as a passion for non-profits and creating a special place in our community for all of its residents. She and her husband reside in Bozeman and are looking forward to continuing to grow within this special organization and this community.
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Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 406-522-8169
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