Citizens for a Better Flathead
2018 Board of Directors
Wendy Coyne, Chair, (Whitefish): Wendy has been a long-term home owner in Whitefish, and a permanent resident for four. In 2014 Wendy retired from 35 years at JPMorgan Chase where she was a Senior Vice President and Regional Sales Manager covering the Western Region for Chase. Wendy began her career in Chicago and earned a Masters of Management from Northwestern University. While living in Chicago she served on several boards, including Women In Management, Kohl’s Children’s Museum, Greater North Michigan Ave Association, Rotary International of Wilmette and others throughout her career. After retirement Wendy became involved in the Whitefish Community as well. She now serves on the boards of Whitefish Animal Group (WAG) and Whitefish Community Garden as well as Citizens for a Better Flathead. Wendy is widowed and has three grandchildren. Board member since 2016.
Gil Jordan, Co-Chair, (Coram): Gil was born and raised in Southern California, earned a bachelor’s degree in Language Arts, then a master’s in Theatre Arts from UCLA. He worked as the technical director for seven years at the 1300-seat La Mirada Civic Theatre before moving to Montana in 1985, where he served 13 years as a social worker at the Western Montana Mental Health Center. He was Executive Director for the Northwest Montana Historical Society and Museum at Central School, from which he recently retired after 12 years of service. In the community, Gil has: served on the Flathead County Library Foundation Board of Directors for six years, three as President of the Board; Volunteered and is still active for 30 years on the Coram-West Glacier Fire Department, 28 years and counting as Secretary-Treasurer; served as a board member and Cultural and Arts Representative for the Flathead Convention and Visitors Bureau; and was debate coach for seven years with the Whitefish High School Speech and Debate team. Gil is a runner, having completed 35 full marathons and two ultras. He lives with his wife of 40 years, Kimberly Pinter, in Coram, seven miles from the west entrance to Glacier National Park. Board member since 2017.
Randy Kenyon, Treasurer/Secretary, (Polebridge): After graduating from college in 1972, Randy landed in Kalispell in 1974 where he served disabled adults for many years, culminating in director of case management for a nonprofit organization. Randy retired from nonprofit work in 2014, at which time he and his wife Donna fulfilled their lifelong dream of building a home and living off the grid enjoying our wild places. He has always been a firm believer in giving back to his community, resulting in his affiliation with of a number of wide ranging local organizations, many as a board member, including the Kalispell City Council from 2000 to 2014. He’s on the board of the North Fork Preservation and Trails Association and chair of the North Fork Land Use Advisory Committee. He’s past president of the North Fork Landowners Association. Board member since 2016.
Dustin Leftridge, Past Chair, (Kalispell): Dustin grew up in the Mountains of Western Montana and the Redwoods of the Pacific Northwest. He attended The University of Montana for his undergraduate degrees in Geology and Political Science where he served as the president of the student body and the board chair of the Montana Public Interest Research Group. Dustin received his J.D. from the University of Montana School of Law where he served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Public Land and Resources Law Review and interned for the U.S. Forest Service. During his summers, Dustin worked as a river guide throughout Montana and Idaho, where his admiration for wild places, such as the Middle Fork of the Salmon, inspired his career in conservation and public interest law. Dustin currently serves on the board of directors for the Montana Environmental Information Center and works as a trial attorney for McGarvey, Heberling, Sullivan and Lacey P.C. in Kalispell. Board Member since 2015.
John Cole (Kalispell): John is a Minnesota native who earned both a Master of Science degree in anatomy and cellular biology as well as his M.D. at Rush University in Chicago. He began his professional practice as a pediatrician in 2013 at St. James Hospital in Butte, Montana and started an obesity prevention program called FitKids 360 that focused on healthy lifestyle habits for the community of Butte. He served for one year (2015) as a board member at the YMCA in Butte, Montana. In 2015, he moved along with his wife Wendy, a wildlife biologist, his dog Juno, and cat Milo to the Flathead Valley and works as a pediatrician at Sunny View Pediatrics. He is currently the vice-chief of pediatrics and serves on the education committee at Kalispell Regional Medical Center. He has a keen interest in education (preceptor for medical students, residents, and nurse practitioners), nutrition and exercise, clean air and water, technology, and recycling and is looking forward to working with and learning from members of the community to promote the goals of Citizens for a Better Flathead. Board member since 2018.
Wendy Cole (Kalispell): Wendy has spent much of her life in the outdoors while learning, working, and playing in natural areas. She grew up in rural Vermont, and studied Environmental Science with a concentration in Conservation Biology at Colby College in Maine. A family road trip in high school and a wildlife internship in Montana during college planted the seed of love for the grand Western landscapes and ecosystems, and most of her subsequent jobs in wildlife fieldwork were in Montana or nearby states. Wendy completed her Masters of Science degree in Wildlife Biology at the University of Vermont and immediately moved back to Montana where she has worked at an environmental consulting firm, for Glacier National Park, and for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks on various projects surveying waterways, mountain goats, pikas, loons, wolverines, and wolves. She loves to backpack and gets into the mountains as much as possible, and also travels, runs, rafts, kayaks, and cross-country skis with her husband, John, and dog, Juno. Wendy joined the board because of her interest in conserving wild spaces and protecting the integrity and character of the Flathead area. Board member since 2018.
Mary Jo Gardner (Kalispell): Mary Jo is a fifth-generation Flathead Valley resident who grew up on a farm on Lake Blaine Road at the base of the Swan Range foothills. She graduated from Montana State University with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and Curriculum (Fifth-year Degree in Science and Math). Her first teaching assignment was at Pleasant Valley, a one-room schoolhouse with 19 students. Mary Jo retired in 2013 from almost 40 years of teaching mainly primary grades. Teaching science and environmental education has always been a passion of hers. Being involved in community issues has always been a focus. One of Mary Jo’s favorite quotes is, “Live simply so that others may simply live.” – Mahatma Gandhi. Board member since 2016.
Linda Newgard (Kalispell): Linda has lived and worked as a parent, teacher, and volunteer in the Flathead Valley for 23 years. The mountains, lakes, and wildlife captivated her family, beckoning them to settle in the West Valley. She received a Bachelor’s degree in American Studies from UC Santa Cruz and a Master’s degree in Education from Stanford. Before moving to Montana, she taught at the primary and secondary levels, and for Youth Sentencing Alternative Programs in the Bay Area. Her work in Kalispell has been at West Valley School and Flathead High, teaching teamwork, social and work skills as the job coach. While a child growing up in San Diego, she often visited her grandparents in Havre, and helped out during harvest on her uncle’s wheat farm. She has been involved in local efforts to preserve farmland in the West Valley, and has a vision that economic growth can evolve compatibly with the bird and wildlife that make the area their home. Hiking, cycling, gardening, listening to local music, and keeping up with her Jack Russell terrier occupy her free time. Board member since 2018.
Erica Wirtala (Kalispell): Erica graduated from the University of Michigan with a BS in Natural Resources and then spent the next 10 years in the southeastern US teaching natural history on beautiful beaches and in mysterious swamps. After hearing about wonderful Montana, she packed up her blue heeler and big bay horse and headed west to attend University of Montana’s graduate program in “Rural, Regional and Town Planning.” Working as a land use planner for over 20 years, Erica currently represents the NW Montana Association of Realtors. She also serves on several other local boards, all with the goal of making the Flathead a wonderful place to live, work, and raise children. When not behind her computer, Erica and her husband Larry sometime enjoy hanging out with their two teenagers. Or, she’ll be out riding in the foothills of Kalispell on her most beautiful horse Ben. Board member since 2018.