Betsy Wackernagel Bach became interim director of Partners Hope Foundation after serving on the board for four years. She is a retired University of Montana faculty member where she taught courses in organizational communication for almost four decades. Her most recent passion was teaching a course on communication in nonprofit organizations. Her dedication to hospice and palliative care came while she was on the faculty at Missoula’s Chalice of Repose project, a music thanatology program that was housed at St Patrick Hospital. She has published over 40 books and articles about communication in organizations, served as president of the National Communication Association in 2009, and worked as assistant provost and dean of the Honors College at UM. She has volunteered her time on 11 nonprofit boards, including the Missoula Art Museum, the Jeannette Rankin Foundation and the YWCA.
Betsy enjoys good wine and conversation. She likes to laugh especially with her beautiful grandson.
Nancy LeBuhn Pickhardt grew up in the Chicago area and received her Bachelor of Science in nursing degree from the University of Colorado, Denver. While in school, she worked at Craig Hospital, a rehabilitation center for people with spinal cord and head injuries. She then worked for six years in the neurosurgery ICU at Denver General Hospital. Nancy came to Missoula in 1990, with her husband, Brad Pickhardt, MD, where they have raised their four now adult children, all of whom work in the service industry. She returned to nursing as a hospice nurse with Partners in Home Care 2014. As a hospice nurse, she had many deeply meaningful and remarkable experiences. Her greatest life achievements have been guiding family members through and being fully present at the deaths of her father, mother, younger sister and uncle, all of whom died on hospice. Realizing the profound need for an end-of-life center, she is one of the founding members and currently board president of Partners Hope Foundation. Believing that service is joy, Nancy has volunteered at local schools, the Missoula Food Bank, the Red Cross and her church.
Nancy’s deep satisfaction and balance in her life comes from time with family and friends on the trails and ski slopes around Missoula and her book club.
board vice president
Claire Sherwood worked as a hospice medical social worker for Partners in Home Care. Prior to her work as a medical social worker, she worked for 37 years in the hospitality field holding a variety positions. While living and working in California, she began to volunteer with hospice. Her volunteer work spanned 15 years and led her move to Missoula where she pursued and received a master’s degree from the University of Montana in Social Work in 2012. Her degree enabled her to work directly with veterans, respite care and facility care for patients and their families at end of life. Her work at PHC informed and reinforced her thinking regarding the need for an end-of-life facility — fueling her passion to create a such a facility for Western Montana.
Claire continues to value her time as a hospice volunteer and is passionately in love with her life in the Rattlesnake with her partner, Steve, and their dog, Chance.
Dr. Anne Murphy recently retired after 35 years of work in internal medicine and geriatrics at the Western Montana Clinic, Providence St. Patrick Hospital and four local nursing homes. During that time, she was particularly focused on counseling patients on options at the end of life. Finding the balance between deploying medical technologies and discovering when those technologies caused more harm than good was a constant challenge. She was an early adopter and champion of hospice. Caring for patients on hospice was one of the most rewarding parts of her career. Because she believes that our healthcare system is out of balance between caring for and curing people, she remains dedicated to improving healthcare, particularly at the end of life. Anne has held multiple leadership positions in the Missoula medical community including being the first female president of St. Patrick Hospital’s medical staff and serving on the St. Patrick Hospital board of directors. She has also served on the board of directors of the Poverello Center and Jeannette Rankin Peace Center.
Anne is married and has an adult son. Her favorite sport is soccer and her favorite food is a chicken burrito with rice and beans!
Julie Brehm has worked extensively with the American Red Cross biomedical division. During her tenure with Red Cross, Julie was instrumental in growing blood collections in the Las Vegas market, coordinating efforts with MGM Resorts International and other key partners. Julie’s strategic planning skills have also assisted hydra Brands where she serves as Wholesale Sales Manager. The gift industry has faced significant challenges during the pandemic, but hydra Brands products are thriving under Julie’s strategic planning and process improvement skills.
Julie has seen firsthand the importance of life-saving blood products and continues to be a committed blood donor. She has a strong belief in end-of-life care.
Dr. Melody Cunningham recently relocated to Missoula after 15 years as Medical Director of Threads of Care, Pediatric Palliative Care at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Prior, Melody served as Medical Director in the Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at Boston Children’s Hospital. During her 24 years of caring for pediatric patients with serious illness, she realized that family and patient decisions at the end of life are intensely guided by personal values. She believes that listening and honoring these values and individual assessments of quality of life may facilitate healthy grieving and ultimately healing. Personal, sudden losses taught her early in life that the opportunity to say goodbye is a gift and has guided her in patient advocacy. In Montana, she sees the need for availability of hospice for children. Melody has received several awards including the FDA Pediatric Advisory Committee Service Award in 2021 and finalist for the prestigious Schwartz Center National compassionate Caregiver of the Year award in 2015. Melody has served as Fellowship Director for University of Tennessee Hospice and Palliative Medicine Fellowship and Medical Director of the Thalassemia Program at Harvard Medical School.
In her free time Melody refills her vessel with cooking, hiking and star-gazing.
Dan Dixson, a board-certified chaplain with the Association of Professional Chaplains, holds a Certificate in Thanatology from the Association for Death Education and Counseling. Dan has served congregations in California, Idaho and Montana and has a long history of end-of-life bereavement. He has worked for the Missoula Demonstration Project — Quality at Life’s End and chaired the board for the Life’s End Institute. In 2009, Dan moved back to Missoula where he currently serves as the chaplain and bereavement specialist for Partners In Home Care.
Dan finds energy and purpose in leading workshops and retreats regionally and nationally in the areas of end of life and grief.
Allan Frankl an engineer trained at Montana State University and grew up on a cattle ranch in the Flint Creek Valley near Phillipsburg. He began his career and continues to work with Dick Anderson Construction where he currently serves as vice president. Allan has been involved with a wide variety of projects including office buildings, hospitals, dental offices, research facilities, retail stores, restaurants, K-12 school buildings, university buildings, bridges, waste and water treatment plants, along with wind and solar energy facilities. Allan has served on several nonprofit boards and realizes the importance of giving back to the community. The most fulfilling project of his career was managing the construction of Peace Hospice Residential Facility in Great Falls.
Allan enjoys spending as much time as possible with his six-year-old daughter. When she is occupied, he enjoys rock climbing, mountaineering, backpacking, skiing, hunting and fishing.
Bob Heffner is currently a managing director at AdvantEdge Advisors LLC in Missoula. Bob’s expertise as a merger and acquisition advisor builds on his varied experience as a business owner in building construction and in retail foods, economic development chief at the Montana Department of Commerce, and commercial banker. At the Commerce Department, Bob started Montana’s Presidential Award-winning Microbusiness Finance Program and supervised the state’s foreign trade offices. As a commercial lender, he financed growth opportunities for hundreds of companies including AT&T Capital. He holds degrees in economics and architecture/urban planning. Attending to his mother’s decline and death in the spring of 2021 engendered Bob’s profound appreciation of hospice care. In Bob’s words, hospice transformed the experience from a struggle with symptoms, systems and providers to recognizing and engaging in the process of death with a beloved parent.
Bob “still grinds it out” on wilderness backpack trips with his sons and pursues skiing, grandchildren’s sports events and foreign travel with his wife Nancy.
Gayle Hudgins retired as a professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Director of Experiential Education in the University of Montana Skaggs School of Pharmacy in 2017. After serving as the director of the Montana Geriatric Education Center and the Montana Geriatric Workforce Enhancement program from 2007-2017, she continues working with the project in the roles of pharmacy faculty and evaluator. She also continues to coordinate and teach in the Gerontology minor at UM. In her career as a pharmacy educator, Gayle provided consultant services in a variety of settings, including the original Hospice of Missoula which became the Partners in Home Care hospice program. As a member of the hospice care team during those years, she had the pleasure of working with Ira Byock, MD, and many other dedicated professionals. Given her life’s work and family experience with her mother receiving hospice care, Gayle is an ardent supporter of hospice services at the end of life.
Gayle and her husband, Tim Edwards, love to travel especially to Washington D.C. and Scotland to their children and grandchildren.
Rosi Keller’s career with the University of Montana spanned more than 33 years. Her work began with the Internal Audit Department and led to ultimately serving as the vice president for Administration and Finance. In her work, she oversaw the issuance of over $500 million in revenue bonds for the construction and renovation of facilities, played a key role in transitioning the Montana University System worker compensation program from the State Fund to a self-insured program, was instrumental in creating a financially stable environment while state support declined, and led the development of a comprehensive Master Plan for the University. Rosi served as the chair of the University of Montana (all campuses) Debt Management Committee, member of the Strategic and Budget Planning Committee, and board of directors for US Bank.
Rosi is passionate about helping others and volunteers at an infant care center, tutors refugee children and helps to provide an environment for those at the end of life that embraces dignity, respect, comfort and compassion.
Laura Millin became director of the Missoula Art Museum in 1990, after a decade of working in the arts in Seattle where she helped to create three contemporary art institutions and co-owned a contemporary art bookstore. Her achievements at MAM over 30 years include twice steering the institution through reaccreditation by the American Alliance of Museums, completing a $5.3 million renovation and expansion in 2006, and shepherding the Missoula Art Park in 2015 in partnership with the City of Missoula. Under Laura’s leadership, the MAM’s progressive exhibitions and innovative educational programming have established the institution as a leading contemporary museum. Laura served on the board of directors of the Missoula Demonstration Project (Life’s End Institute) in Missoula from 1996 – 2003.
Laura has a passion for life, family and friends and feels strongly about the importance of providing community members a quality experience at life’s end.
Mary Morrison retired after 40 years as an educator and advocate in the field of deafness and disability. Her most recent position was with the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Projects where she worked as associate director of Pepnet 2. Her achievements include providing guidance, training and best practice models for teaching, interpreting and accessible technology throughout the United States and its territories. At the University of Montana, she worked as a deaf and hard of hearing specialist, setting up the first accessible programs for the deaf and hard of hearing populations. Mary’s experiences as an educator, interpreter and advocate in Montana and across the U.S. has given her a keen appreciation of the issues and needs related to quality of access. These experiences coupled with her family’s end-of-life beliefs and practices fuel her passion to create end-of-life options for Montanans.
Mary enjoys exploring the backcountry and waterways of Montana with family and friends.
Angie Rogers serves as the branch director of Home Health and Hospice at Encompass Home Health and Hospice in Bozeman. She is the previous director of clinical practice at Partners In Home in Missoula, where she worked for more than 15 years in a variety of roles, including case manager, hospice manager, director of quality and director of operations. Angie received her Bachelor of Science degree from Montana State University and a psychology degree from the University of Montana. She has worked as an RN for over 25 years with a primary focus on hospice care, to which she is deeply committed.
When Angie is not dedicating her time in hospice, she is trail running with her dog, Duke.