Board of Directors

Laura Ginsburg - St. Ignatius

Laura Ginsburg – St. Ignatius

Laura Ginsburg received her Master’s of Science in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana in 2013. Her graduate work focused on food systems and agricultural policy, and her thesis studied the effects of supply management on Montana’s dairy farmers. Laura has been working in the food and farming sector since 2005, on a beef cattle ranch in Wyoming and on dairy farms in Vermont and Montana. She and her partner operate The Golden Yoke Farm and Creamery in Saint Ignatius, a dairy and diversified livestock operation. Laura is also employed as the program manager for cooperative development at Lake County Community Development Corporation in Ronan.


Trina Filan – Helena

Trina was raised in Helena during the school year and Southern California during the summer, which instilled in her a love for both the mountains and the ocean as well as a desire to travel. She has lived, studied, and worked on Long Island in New York and in Oregon, California, Panama, and Canada, pursuing her interests in gender equity, education, environmental justice, sustainable agriculture, and community resilience. She did not expect to return to Montana, but she is deeply gratified to have done so, and she looks forward reacquainting herself with this beautiful Big Sky Country.

Paul House- Bozeman

Paul House- Bozeman

Paul House is a native of Bozeman and has been an excited member of AERO since 2006.  He received a BS in hydrogeology from MSU, with an emphasis in environmental ethics, and has a long history of turning his passion for energy conservation into small businesses.  Paul started Bozeman Biofuels in 2004 and lived a [nearly] petroleum-free lifestyle for 9 years by upcycling used cooking oil.  He runs Bozeman Cottage, a green vacation rental company in Bozeman, and more recently has started Choice Energy, which focuses on solar air heating for large commercial and agricultural buildings. Struck by the concept of geologic time, an abhorrence for waste and a severe objection to financial debt, he has a long term outlook that has led to applying his tinkering skills to a colorful array of narrow-margin business ventures.  He is currently working with the Bike Kitchen to launch a bicycle rental business to serve his guest house clients. Paul spends his spare time pursuing backyard permaculture & vermicompost, electric bikes, and managing a hydroelectric project in Paradise Valley.  Paul dreams of building a living machine in a net zero home and incorporating a wide variety of carbon-negative living apparati.  When he needs recharging and more ideas he winds his way through the mountains by bike and skis.

Paul Reichert - Bozeman

Paul Reichert – Bozeman

A long time Montana resident and MSU earth science grad, Paul has worked for statewide non-profit organizations (including AERO).  He has served as the executive director for the Helena and Bozeman downtown business districts, and as the agency director managing the state historic sites and visitor programs in Virginia City.  He currently works for the Yellowstone Park Foundation, which supports projects that protect and enhance Yellowstone Park.

Martha Brown - Red Lodge

Martha Brown – Red Lodge

Martha grew up on a cattle ranch near Sand Springs, in eastern Montana. After college in Bozeman, she completed graduate degrees in Arizona and Nebraska and followed a career path in college and university administrative positions. She lives in Red Lodge, where she loves the mountains and takes advantage of every opportunity to hike or ski. Passionate about building access and demand for local food and supporting sustainable agriculture, she is a founding member of the Red Lodge Area Food Partnership Council and serves on the Leadership Team. Founded after a successful community forum on local food in 2011, the Council co-sponsors a FoodCorps service member, coordinates the expanding community gardens, annual food-related film series, farm tours, Farmers Market, organic food buying club, adult educational programs and classes, local food events and dinners.

Ellie Costello - Missoula

Ellie Costello – Missoula

Ellie is a University of Montana Environmental Studies Masters Candidate with a focus on agriculture and policy.  She started her work with nonprofit organizations in the field of arts administration about eight years ago while she completed her undergraduate work at the University of Virginia.  Even though you will occasionally find her filling in as a substitute administrator at the Zootown Arts Community Center, she has mostly left the arts behind to work in a different medium of community building: agriculture. Since she moved to Montana in 2009, she has done outdoors conservation work and, most recently, several seasons of farm apprenticeships.  She currently works with Garden City Harvest, caretaking an educational not-for-profit farm, and with Organic Seed Alliance as the Communications and Advocacy Intern.

Kim Gilchrist – Missoula

Kim is a Missoula transplant originally from New Jersey. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Environmental Studies at the University of Montana, studying sustainable agriculture.  She has a BS in Business Administration from Towson University in Maryland, where she spent the past few years working on communications in the retirement plan. Before moving to Montana, Kim did some work interning with a sustainable foods purchasing program for Maryland hospitals. Her goal now is to work on strengthening local food systems so farmers, communities, and consumers can all prosper. She hopes that someday we move towards a better food culture where we all appreciate good food that nourishes our bodies and souls.

Janet Hess-Herbert - Helena

Janet Hess-Herbert – Helena

Janet has lived in Montana since 1975 when she traveled west from Ohio to begin her graduate work at the University of Montana Environmental Studies Program.  Her thesis work involved researching the aquatic community in the upper Blackfoot River that led to her 32-year career with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. She worked in Dillon and Kalispell as a fisheries biologist and retired from the department as the Information Management Bureau Chief in October 2011.  Janet has lived in Helena since 1999 with her husband Jeff. Children include an organic farmer in western Montana, a kindergarten teacher in Creston, a firefighter in Austin Texas and a chef in Las Vegas, one granddaughter and another on the way! She has been a life-long gardener that now includes a 1,500 square foot plot in her backyard that she spends much of her summer and fall growing and preserving its bounty. She also loves most forms of outdoor recreation with backpacking, hiking and fly-fishing at the top of the list and indoor activities of sewing, knitting and jewelry making. Community service has always been an important part of her adult life that has spanned everything from president of her daughters’ elementary school PTA to co-chair of the Helena Growing Project, co-chair of the Helena Citizens Council and membership on numerous boards and organizations. Janet’s interest in AERO began in the summer of 2006 when daughter Kaly (now Harlequin Produce) interned with the Agricultural Program.

Jim Mahnke – Kalispell

Jim, a native of Washington state, went to school in Leavenworth, Vancouver, and Spokane before he got a scholarship to Harvard College, where he majored in History and Literature, graduating in 1955. He went to medical school at the University of Washington, Seattle, did a surgical internship at the University of Minnesota, then went back to Seattle for a neurosurgical residency. He served as faculty for a year at the Medical College of Virginia, for two years at Yale Medical School, then fifteen years at the University of California, Irvine. He was in private practice in Orange County, then Durango, Colorado. He retired in 1989 to Kalispell where he pursues interests in energy and creating resilient communities.

Stephanie Laporte Potts - Missoula

Stephanie Laporte Potts – Missoula

Stephanie was raised (mostly) in Michigan and studied and worked in the Washington, DC area before moving to Montana in 2010. She has a bachelors degrees in international studies and environmental studies from American University, and an M.S. in environmental studies from the University of Montana. Stephanie has a passion for bringing new people and interests together around food and environmental issues, and has worked in education, activism, and fundraising to help support positive change. Currently, she coordinates Grow Montana, a statewide coalition working to strengthen Montana’s local and regional food economy. In her free time, you can find Stephanie exploring the trails and hot springs of Montana and Idaho, or in Missoula with her husband, ducks, chickens, cat, and front-yard garden.

Ephie Risho - Missoula

Ephie Risho – Missoula

Ephie, short for Ephraim, is a native Montanan who grew up appreciating creation, whether in the midst of adventures like being struck by lightning at the top of a peak or reflecting quietly next to the ripples of a lake. Over the years, living in different countries like Mexico, Costa Rica, Canada, and Taiwan, Ephie began to understand that there is more than one way to look at things, and that the status quo our society tells us is good enough is in reality quite lacking. After a BA at Middlebury College and an MDiv at Regent College, Ephie got busy working with church and youth outreach, and then a marketing job in the industry of water quality. He started a web and graphic design company in Vancouver, BC in late 2005, took a stint in the film industry, and after marrying his fantastic wife Michelle and fathering two kids, decided to move back to the homeland, Missoula, Montana. He is the director of Exit 360 Creative, a web and communications company, and a partner at Crucial Catalyst, where he represents a voice for bringing positive change in the areas of food, water, and energy in order to eradicate world poverty. He loves the wilderness, but especially loves his two little wild ones, who have come to appreciate the great outdoors too. As Ephie’s 3-year-old said last February, amidst 5-foot snow drifts, “Daddy, I want to go camping,” to which Ephie replied wistfully, “I do too. I do too.”