Board of Directors & Staff
Bonnie Bowler is a retired Latin, English, and occasional Word Clues teacher who has lived in Helena since she was nine months old. She graduated from Montana State University (now UM) in Missoula with a degree in Latin in 1965. During her teaching career she was active in the Helena and Montana Education Associations and raised her daughter. Since her retirement, she has served on the YWCA board of directors. She currently serves on the Shakespeare in the Parks Committee and the Helena Sports Hall of Fame Board. She also volunteers at the Montana Historical Society and is a member of the Last Chance Gulch Corral, a group of Montana history lovers; the Fortnightly Club of Helena, a group of book lovers; and the Audubon Society. In 2018, she received the YWCA Women of the Year Award for her years of volunteer service to the community. Bonnie joined the board in 2022.
Art Butler was born and raised in Salt Lake City and came to Montana first in 1968 to study experimental psychology at the University of Montana. After graduate school he taught psychology at Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City Tennessee until 1993 when he and his wife Amie moved back to Montana where he began working as a school psychologist in Dillon, Montana. In 2000 they moved to Helena where he worked as a school psychologist for the Helena School District for 10 years, retiring in 2008. Amie is a retired large animal veterinarian. They have a daughter named Alice who lives in Steamboat Springs. Butler says he has “been happy and honored to serve on the library foundation board because I know what an important role the library plays in the community. I love to read, and I stalk the library for books whenever I can. I also love country blues and play the resonator slide guitar.” Art joined the board in 2014.
Nikki DesRosier moved to Helena in 2004. She was raised in Missoula, and after many stops along the way, lived in Minnesota about 35 years. She retired as a Grant Manager from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and then joined her husband as the CEO of a food distribution business. Eventually her cabin on Flathead Lake drew her back to Montana. She has been active in the community including a docent for the Holter Museum; co-chaired the last Artbeat’s Chef Tour and served on the board of Grandstreet Theatre. Nikki and her husband, Denny, love to travel and after visiting all continental states are working their way across the world. She especially likes hiking in the back country and spending time with her 3 small grandchildren. Nikki joined the board in 2020.
John Finn, Board Secretary
John Finn is the Director of Lewis & Clark Library. In this capacity he also serves as secretary of the board of the Lewis & Clark Library Foundation. In 1997 he was hired by the Montana State Library as a public library consultant based in Great Falls. John became head of the Information Services Department at the Great Falls Public Library and also served as President of the Montana Library Association. In 2005, he moved to Anaconda to be director of Hearst Free Library. This is where he honed his skills as a library director and married Maggie, his longtime librarian crush. John and Maggie moved to Oregon, where they both worked for Beaverton City Library. Back in Helena (Maggie’s hometown) they have settled into life with family, pets, mountains, and fun. John has ushered many changes at Lewis & Clark Library, most notably the recent completion of the $6 million remodel of the Helena branch of the Library system. He came on board in 2016.
Bethany Flint grew up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest where her youth was spent in the great outdoors exploring in nature, camping, hiking and spending time on the Pacific coast beaches. An opportunity to travel to Asia in her youth led to a passion for Asia’s arts and cultures. Following her passion, Beth attended The University of Puget Sound and received her BA degree in Asian Studies before attending Columbia University earning an MA degree in Chinese History. In 2003, Beth and her partner Mels Case moved to Helena and fell in love with the community and Montana’s wide-open spaces and unique landscape. After a short time working for the Lewis & Clark Library in the circulation department, Beth became a founding staff member and Director of Operations of ExplorationWorks. In 2009, she was hired as the Office Manager at The Blackfoot River Brewing Co. and has been a co-owner and co-managing partner of the Blackfoot since 2014. When Beth isn’t working, she still is looking for adventures. You’ll find her outside gardening, camping, hiking or on the river with Mels and their dogs Lulu, Blue and Chloe. Bethany joined the board in 2019.
Kathy Hamill was born and raised in Anaconda and earned an Education degree from MSU and U of M-Western. She and her husband Maury have been Capitol City residents since 1976, raising three daughters who all work as elementary school teachers. Kathy says, "We are blessed with five amazing grandkids, four boys and one granddaughter. One of our greatest joys is following their sports and activities. It has been both an honor and a pleasure to serve on the board for the last seven years. I can't tell you how proud I am of the many things we have been a part of, especially the remodel, making our library such a special place." Kathy joined the board in 2014.
Pad McCracken, Board Treasurer
Pad McCracken and his wife Nisan Burbridge moved to Helena in late 2006. They were utilizing the Lewis & Clark Library to look for jobs when one day Nisan noticed a flyer at the Library seeking a Teen Services Librarian and pointed out to Pad that as a former high school English teacher, books and kids were right up his alley. Pad was fortunate to be hired and serve in that position for seven years! Pad currently serves as committee staff for various education committees for Montana Legislative Services. Pad grew up in Iowa and graduated from St. Olaf College in 1992. After spending the rest of the 90s in Winter Park, Colorado, Pad earned his M. Ed. in Instructional Leadership from Colorado State University in 2001 and taught high school English in Paonia, Colorado, and Wenatchee, Washington, before he and Nisan moved to Helena. Pad joined the board in 2020.
Taffy Miller has called Helena home since 1974. Her professional career comprised 35 years of management, energy conservation consulting, and consumer relations. After 15 years working for the Public Service Commission and DPHHS, she was recruited by Xenergy Inc, an energy engineering firm out of Boston, MA, and spent the next 20 years as managing director, senior consultant, and senior project manager for residential and small commercial energy conservation projects spanning the country from Ohio to Hawaii. She is thoroughly enjoying retirement, which has freed up more time for reading, cooking, and walking her sweet Pierre. Taffy joined the board in 2021.
Lorna Milne is a freelance journalist who lives on a small farm north of Helena with her husband and a menagerie of critters. In 2019 she retired from teaching at Carroll College to write full-time. She is the author of Evelyn Cameron, Photographer on the Western Prairie and is currently at work on a collection of essays. Lorna grew up in Eastern Montana, playing on the banks of the Yellowstone and exploring the badlands. She shares five children and five grandsons with her husband, Jon Motl. Lorna enjoys gardening, cross-country skiing, canoeing, walking, and, of course, reading. Lorna joined the board in 2020.
Anne Pichette was raised in Helena and spent many childhood hours at the Lewis & Clark Library, checking out as many books as she could carry up the hill. Anne graduated with a degree in Economics from Westminster College. After college, she returned to Helena and has nearly 20 years of public service between City and State Government positions. She enjoys volunteering in the community and is also a founding member of the Capital City Kiwanis Club. In her spare time she has fun making pottery. Anne loves the library and is honored to be a part of making a great library even better. She joined the board in 2014 and served as Board President in 2020.
Kay Satre is a Professor of English at Carroll College. Raised in Helena, she is a graduate of Helena High School, earned a B.A from Carroll, an M.A. from Boston College, and a Ph.D. from University of Massachusetts, Amherst. At Carroll, she has loved working with colleagues and students for over three decades; her specialties are 19th Century British Literature (she loves long Victorian novels), the study of empathy and literature, feminist criticism, and teaching writing. Kay and spouse Timothy Meloy raised their three kids in Helena amidst an extended family that invested a whole lot of time and enthusiasm in reading, learning, playing, and all sorts of outside adventures. A daughter-in law, son-in-law, and granddaughter have recently been added into this wonderful, multi-generational mix. Kay also serves on the board of the Jerry Metcalf Foundation. Kay joined the board in 2021.
Wendy Wheeler grew up in upstate New York and moved to Helena in 1980 with her husband, Gregg. As a child, her mother thought she should spend more time outside rather than inside reading. Wendy’s solution was to take her books up into the backyard maple tree where she could read in peace. Wendy is passionate about libraries and literacy. She was a member of the Board of Trustees of Lewis & Clark Library in the 1990s when funds were scarce (this was before the mill levy passed), including time as chair. She has volunteered as a tutor for the Lewis & Clark Literacy Council and served on their board of directors for six years. She has a B.A. in History and retired from the Montana State Information Services Division after 30 years in state government. Wendy joined the board in 2022.
Bruce Whittenberg, Board Vice President
Bruce Whittenberg became the Director of the Montana Historical Society in September of 2011. Bruce was the founding executive director of Leadership Montana, a statewide effort to develop a sustainable network of leaders who share a commitment to the future of the state. In the 1990s, Bruce was publisher of the Helena Independent Record and the Billings Gazette. Bruce’s long record of public service most recently included serving on the board of directors of Humanities Montana, Parmly Billings Library Foundation, Western Heritage Center, and the Alberta Bair Theater in Billings. Currently, Bruce serves on the board of directors of the Friends of Montana PBS and the Myrna Loy Center. Bruce joined the board in 2021.
Opal Winebrenner, Board President
Opal Winebrenner grew up in Fort Benton - the birthplace of Montana - and spent many hours in the Chouteau County Carnegie Library. She received both her History and Political Science bachelor and law degrees from the University of Montana. She was a researcher for the Montana Local Government Commission, and was U.S Senator Lee Metcalf's 1977 Congressional Fellow. She served as a lawyer with Montana's Public Service Commission, and Attorney General's Office. She and her husband, Mike Shields, moved to the Washington, D.C. area in 1987. There she worked as a U.S. Senate senior legislative assistant and legal counsel, and a senior health care policy analyst with Congress's investigative agency, the U.S. Government Accountability Office. She retired and returned home to Big Sky Country in 2014, enjoying the quieter life and renewing her interest in Montana history. Opal joined the board in 2018.
Patti Borneman, Executive Assistant to the Board
Patti Borneman was hired in 2015 to serve as the part-time Executive Assistant. Along with supporting the board with meetings and minutes, fundraising and donor outreach, she writes and designs the Foundation's publications, including the website, and also helps plan the Foundation's events and special activities. Prior to this position, she was employed by the Office of Public Instruction, the National Institute on Money in Politics, the Biomimicry Guild, the National Parks Conservation Association, and Montana Historical Society. Patti loves to hike the hills around Helena and urban homesteading and farm-to-fork cooking is her passion. She and her husband, Bill, have lived in Helena since 1979, and enjoy spending time with their son, granddaughter, husky mutt, and six-toed cat.