2020 Tables Hosts


Wednesday Night Cocktail Host -

Abby Reno, City Vineyard
Abby and husband Ryan Nordlund have owned and operated City Vineyard since 2009. They expanded the business in 2017 to its current location and are now home to a full tasting lounge, gourmet food market, a beautiful wine library with over 10,000 bottles and 40 feet of beer coolers stocked with top craft beers from around the world.
Abby will be sampling three wine tastings.



Wednesday Night Conversation Hosts & Topics

Noel Miner, PhD, Chinese consultant
China: To be feared or admired?
Daily headlines of China’s domination can be alarming but also intriguing to understand their motivation. Is it power, competition, or recognition? What is the Belt and Road Initiative and why should I care? With US - China relations deteriorating, what are the best strategies to “live” together? Will the Chinese government or the love of capital win out?

Bio: Noel, who recently located to Montana, was a consultant for large corporations in China in energy, pharmaceutical, automobile, fashion, and consumer products from 1990-2019. Focus on intercultural understanding, management training and leadership training for westerns and Chinese nationals.

Lindsey Hoffmann, certified beekeeper
What is all the buzz about bees?
Gardening and beekeeping have become popular hobbies but what has created the interest? Why do bees make such a difference in our world and how

do they help our backyard gardens? Why would I want to start my own backyard hive? Is it only the honey we crave or is there more to this intriguing

environmental helper?
Bio: Lindsey has been raising bees for the past four years and is an active member of the Yellowstone Valley Beekeepers Club. She is a graduate of the University of Minnesota’s beekeeping program years 1 and 2. Lindsey is also a talented gardener which many have enjoy when having a beer at Red Lodge Ales.

Randy Hafer, FAIA, LEED AP, architect
What have we learned to be smarter with Smart architecture?  
How can you incorporate smart architecture and “off the grid” techniques in your home? Do I have to start from scratch for an “off the grid” house or are there steps a homeowner can incorporate? Aren’t these techniques expensive and how soon can I expect a return on this type of investment? What improvements have been made to “mainstream” alternative building practices?

Bio: Randy is the president of High Plains Architects. Since Architectural school in California in the 70s during the energy crisis, Architect Randy Hafer has dreamed of building a house in the city that is self-contained and self-sustaining. Randy and his wife are now living in that science experiment.

Tim Lehman, Ph.D., professor
Montana’s 1918 pandemic: What we learn from history? 
The Spanish Flu hit Montana hard, killing over 5000 people or 1% of the entire population. How did people react to the illness? What were the public health initiatives as compared to today? What have we learned from that pandemic that will help us be more prepared for today’s COVID-19? Are we doomed to repeat our mistakes, or can we come out of this experience smarter and safer?

Bio: Tim, a professor of History at Rocky Mountain College, teaches a wide variety of courses on American, Western, and Environmental history and has authored three books, including Bloodshed at Little Bighorn: Sitting Bull, Custer and the Destinies of Nations.


Thursday Night Cocktail Host

Bruce Harper, Doc Harper’s Tavern
Bruce opened his popular martini bar to honor his father, Dr. Robert Harper, a small-town doctor who loved medicine and his patients. Today, Bruce serves up an array of cocktails from Martinis to Cosmos with fresh juices and fun garnishments.
Bruce will be shaking up his renown Martini


Thursday Night Conversation Hosts & Topics

Dr. Eric K. Austin, PhD, professor
Where is Montana’s energy future headed?
Coal, oil and natural gas have been Montana’s energy sources as well as economic driver for generations. With technology and environmental advancements, how does Montana find the balance of providing reliable, affordable energy? What options are viable that also address the climate change dilemma? What is the future of our energy and will we be able to afford it?

Bio: Eric is a professor of Political Science at MSU-Bozeman. He has studied public policy, including natural resources and energy policy for more than two decades. Most recently, this has included projects on the siting of energy infrastructure and facilitating stakeholder visioning discussions involving utilizes, consumer, green-energy, and other interest groups.

Melinda Arnold, PhD, Provost
Criminal reform: Who does it impact and why should I care?
Over the past four decades, our country’s incarceration rate – the number of prisoners per capita – has more than quadrupled and is now unprecedented in world history. How can we continue this rate of incarceration? What other methods or systems can be considered? Is it the system or is it society that needs to change?

Bio: Melinda serves as Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at Montana State University Billings. She has led Academic Affairs at MSUB since October 2018. Prior to arriving in Montana, Melina served as Interim Associate Provost at University of North Texas at Dallas and as Executive Director of the Caruth Police Institute where she developed and implemented professional development leadership training for law enforcement. She has served in various other capacities at higher education institutions since 2008. Melinda also has extensive experience in the criminal justice system, as Deputy Director of Dallas County
Probation (Dallas, TX) and Director of Policy and Planning in New Jersey. Her work in the field of offender reentry has been published in numerous articles and a second edition of her book will be published in 2021.

Jay Kohn, Anchor Emeritus, Political Reporter KTVQ Television
Montana Politics: The good, the bad and the ugly 
With over $6 billion spent so far on political elections, we must ask, how has this gotten so out of hand? The Montana races are breaking records on campaign finances and the fight to claim who is the most “Montanan” continues. Is there a solution to these political extremes? How does the average citizen fulfill their civic responsibilities when it seems there is no common ground to stand on?

Bio: Jay has been covering politics in Montana for the past four decades. With stints in Helena, Butte and Billings, Jay’s reporting and anchoring has given viewers a front row seat to some of the biggest news stories in Montana history. After anchoring the news in Billings for 20 years, Jay stepped away from the nightly news desk in 2019, but still maintains a weekly presence on MTN News, with special reports, interviews, and insights as part of MTN’s political team.


Scott Kerr, NASA Senior Executive Service (retired)
Is our future in the space?
Since the beginning of time, people have been intrigued with the allure of the heavens. Is it adventure, the unknown, competition or all the above? What is the future of NASA and commercial space activities, planetary exploration, and space telescopes? Who acts as the “traffic cop” of our skies and planets?
Bio: During his 25 years with NASA at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Scott held multiple engineering and senior management positions responsible for the design, development and operations of advanced spaceflight and launch systems.


Friday Night Cocktail Host

Courtney McKee, Headframe Spirits, Butte
Courtney and her husband John own Headframe Spirits in Butte, which opened in 2012, and were named Entrepreneurs and Ambassadors of the Year in 2014 and 2015. Headframe Spirits produces the popular micro-distilled spirits from Butte, America of the award-winning Neversweat Bourbon Whiskey, High Ore Vodka, Anselmo Gin, and Orphan Girl Bourbon Cream Liqueur. Headframe Spirits is among five other organizations in Montana to be a Certified B Corporation®.
Courtney will be showcasing three cocktails, in particular an Old Fashion.


Friday Night Conversation Hosts & Topics


Shane Colton, attorney and Chair of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission
Montana Crown Jewels of Public Water, Wildlife, and Land: Why are they worth the cost?
Hunting and fishing is a Montana tradition and the access to public lands and streams has been the unspoken way of life. But the delicate balance of maintaining public lands, water, and wildlife comes with a cost and responsibility. How do we maintain a Montana tradition but still protect the health of our public holdings plus appease the private landowners? How do we pay for it and who is ultimately responsible to determining that balance?

Bio: Shane currently serves as Chair of Montana’s Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission. Originally appointed by Gov. Schweitzer in 2005, Shane served on the commission through March 2013 and was later reappointed by Gov. Bullock in 2017. Chairman Colton has been confirmed as a Commissioner three different times by the Montana Senate. 


Lynn Boughey, attorney and author
Why are we all (still) wild about Harry … Potter?
The first J.K. Rowling book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, was published in 1997 to immediate popular and critical acclaim. Why does this series, one of the most popular books of all time, remain timeless? Is it the writing, the story, the characters, or something magical? Think you really know your Potter trivia? Join us and find out!

Bio: Lynn practices law in North Dakota, as well as writes books. He has written a spy novel and two books on Harry Potter and the Art of Spying. He is currently working on a present-day, four-part murder-mystery novel that takes place in Washington DC.

Elizabeth Ciemins, PhD, MPH, MA, Vice President
What are the hidden forces that shape our actions and why are we so predictable?
From assumptions to influences, human behavior can be predictably irrational, depending on the situation. The scary part is that it is so common, it can now be anticipated. What is the study of Behavior Economics? Why is it important to understand behavior information and what are the hidden forces impacting us socially, medically, and economically?

Bio: Elizabeth is Vice President of Research and Analytics at AMGA based in Alexandria, Virginia. She helps AMGA achieve a vision of leading the transformation that results in healthier people, including supporting member organizations on their journeys from volume-to value-based care. Elizabeth has conducted research on a variety of health care topics such as telemedicine, rural health care, health IT, chronic disease management, palliative care, learning health systems, and complexity science-informed approaches to behavior change in health care. She has a doctorate in health services and policy analysis from the University of California at Berkeley, and an M.P.H. in Population and Community Health from the University of California, Los Angeles, and has been a health services researcher for more than 25 years. She also served in the Peace Corps in Niger, West Africa, in the field of maternal and child health with a focus on nutrition.
 Angela Marshall Hofmann, CEO
Navigating uncertainty: What is Montana’s economic future?
How do we strengthen Montana’s economic capabilities? Expand partnerships, increase production, or grow public support? Is the state limited by location or laws or national policy? How has Montana been impacted by the tariffs and international trade deals currently in place? Jobs move economies but how can Montana expand during so much volatility and how can we become more resilient during these uncertain times?

Bio: Angela is the founder and CEO of World Strategies in Washington DC. She started her career with U.S. Senator Max Baucus in the Billings congressional office and later served as Trade Counsel to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee. She also served as Vice President of International Corporate Affairs for Walmart where she managed the company’s global engagement. A Montana native and graduate of the University of Montana School of Law. She is a strong advocate for women’s empowerment and continues to be active in the Organization of Women in International Trade.


Saturday Night Webinar with moderator Mark Parker

David Baldacci, Best-selling novelist and founder of Wish You Well Foundation for Literacy

David Baldacci enthralls as he brings stories from the page to the stage, with insight into his celebrated career as a best-selling novelist and his passion and advocacy for literacy.

David Baldacci is a global #1 bestselling author and one of the world's favorite storytellers. His books are published in over 45 languages and in more than 80 countries, with 150 million copies sold worldwide. His works have been adapted for both feature film and television.

Fervently committed to combating illiteracy, David is the co-founder, along with his wife, of the Wish You Well Foundation, which fosters and promotes the development and expansion of family literacy programs. 

Drawing on his experiences in law, publishing, philanthropy and fatherhood, David reflects on the twists and turns of his life as a corporate lawyer turned storyteller.