MFPE’s staff is comprised of individuals located in our Helena headquarters office as well as field staff who work directly with local unions to build their capacity to effectively advance the interests of their members. The staff of MFPE is as diverse as our membership. Our professional and talented staff are able to leverage their collective experience in private industry, law practice, education, labor, etc. to provide an exceptional level of service and the highest quality of representation. Get to know our headquarters and field staff below.

Headquarters Office

Erik Burke, Executive Director

Erik is our executive director at MFPE. He is the proud father of three amazing kids. Erik and his family live in Helena.

Quint Nyman, Deputy Executive Director
Quint Nyman is the Deputy Executive Director of the Montana Federation of Public Employees which represents approximately 25,000 educators, state, university, county, city and municipal employees across Montana. Prior to the merger of MPEA and MEA-MFT and becoming the Deputy Executive Director he served as the Executive Director of the Montana Public Employees Association for twelve years. Quint also worked for the Montana State AFL-CIO Project Challenge: Work Again worker retraining program as a Literacy Coordinator in the Missoula and Kalispell area. Quint worked his way through college as a wildland firefighter with the Montana DNRC and earned a degree in English and Secondary Education from The University of Montana. He also served in the United States Marine Corps from 1985 to 1989. Quint and his wife Jill, who is the Principal at Smith Elementary School in Helena, have three daughters; Shannon, Madison, and Isabella. A native of Anaconda, Quint is an avid sportsman and is the co-chair of the Montana Union Sportsman’s Alliance and a board member of the Anaconda Sportsman’s Club. Quint currently serves on the Board of Personnel Appeals with the Montana Department of Labor and Industry, the State Employee Group Benefits Advisory Council, and is the Chairman of the Montana University System Inter Units Benefits Committee. Additionally, he is the elected Vice President of the Montana AFL-CIO.
Lauren Caldwell, Political Director & Student Program Coordinator

Lauren is MFPE’s political director and student coordinator. She previously spent a decade working on Montana political campaigns helping elect candidates who support public schools, public services, and working families. Just before joining the MFPE staff, she managed Denise Juneau’s congressional campaign. As student coordinator, Lauren works with MFPE’s aspiring educator members on most of Montana’s higher education campuses. In her free time, Lauren hunts and hikes with her husband, Gabe, and plays the harp.

Jolene Devine, Membership Specialist

Jolene is an MFPE membership specialist in the Helena office. She grew up in Iowa and spent most of her summers as a child vacationing with family in Colorado. She later moved to Montana and discovered a deep love and appreciation for the mountains, dry air, and open spaces. She joined the MFPE staff in 2008. Time away from her job is spent with Jolene’s two daughters, son-in-law, granddaughters and miniature Yorkie.  Other pastimes include painting, crafting and zentangle.

Marco Ferro, Public Policy Director
Marco is MFPE’s director of public policy and professional development. In his role, he advocates for quality K-12 and higher education policy in the Montana Legislature, oversees the recruitment and facilitation of National Board Certification candidates statewide, administers funding for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching, coordinates MFPE’s Teacher Leadership Institute, and plans the annual Educator Conference. Marco previously taught choir for 25 years in and around Bozeman. He lives in Helena with his wife, Julie, and their amazing miniature dachshund, Lucy.
Diane Fladmo, Director of Research & Bargaining, Retired Program Coordinator
Diane, who also answers to Fladmo, is proud to serve as MFPE’s director of research and collective bargaining. She is also a lobbyist and coordinates member benefits and the MFPE Retired program.  A lifelong Montanan, Diane spent decades in Eastern Montana as a special education teacher/educator before moving to Missoula to work in the University of Montana’s international programs. She later joined the MFPE staff in 2008 as a field consultant in Missoula.  When she’s away from the office, Diane enjoys visiting her two grandsons, hiking and biking along Helena’s trails and attending local musical and theatrical performances.
Bob Funk, Director of Communications

Bob has spent a over a decade working on campaigns and for organizations focused on the issues most important to MFPE's members, including funding of public schools and services, collective bargaining, labor relations, and healthcare. Prior to joining MFPE, Bob served as the Communications Director for the Montana AFL-CIO. Bob is a third generation union member and the fifth generation of his family to call Montana home. He and his wife, Julie, live in Helena.

Donna Graveley, Management Assistant
Donna joined the MFPE family in 2011 as a management assistant in the Helena office. We call her “No Drama Donna” for the way she handles any work crisis with calm efficiency and a smile. She previously worked at the Montana School Boards Association. Donna lives in Avon on a multi-generational family ranch with her husband Shane and their three children. Her spare time is spent watching her youngest daughter play sports.
Daryn Nisbit, Membership Specialist

Daryn is an administrative assistant in the MFPE Helena office.

Cathy Novak, Chief Financial Officer

Cathy is MFPE’s chief financial officer. She also administers our Montana Professional Teaching Foundation. She has been on the staff since 2002. Cathy graduated with honors from Montana State University with a degree in business management. Cathy then worked for a Helena law firm and as the controller of a statewide nonprofit private land trust. Cathy and her husband, Kurt, have been married for five years. She has two children and five step-children. The family spend as much time as they can at the lake enjoying camping, boating and fishing.

Mary Riitano, Administrative Assistant

Mary brings her 20+ years office skills experience along with her artist creativity, optimism, and attention to detail to MFPE as one of their administrative assistants. Working with the Member Rights, Organizing, and Political Directors she handles correspondence, reporting details for the aspects of legal and political requirements, meeting setups, communication to organizers, and a plethora of other office duties including heading up office recycling. Outside of MFPE, you’ll find her engaged in her passions as an actress in film & theatre and adventuring outdoors snowboarding, biking, and hiking. She believes in making the most of time and also loves sharing it by volunteering for Food Share, trail building for hiking and biking, and of course, with family and friends!

Morgan Smith, Director of Organizing
Morgan Smith, aka “The Morganizer,” is MFPE’s director of organizing. He works with groups of public employees wanting to form a local union. He also helps existing MFPE locals increase their member strength and capacity for action. Morgan previously worked for AFT and AFSCME in Montana, helping build union members’ activism. Before that he worked in public relations and political consulting in Chicago. Off the job, Morgan likes to ski, mountain bike, hike, camp, and “generally be outside.” He is married to MFPE member/art teacher Laurie Smith.
Becky Thomas, Administrative Assistant

Becky has served MEA, MEA-MFT, and now MFPE members for 23 years. As an administrative assistant, she is known for her attention to detail and organizational skills. Becky provides logistical support for multiple projects, including the MPFE Annual Conference, Committee Weekend, board meetings, regional training, Educator Conference, the Montana Professional Teaching Foundation (MPTF) golf scramble, and more. Previously, Becky worked with the Montana Tourism Division for 11 years. In her free time, she volunteers with St. Peter’s Hospice and the Lewis and Clark Humane Society.

Jami Wood, Administrative Assistant

Jami is an administrative assistant for MFPE’s research, communications, public policy, retirement, and member benefits programs at MFPE’s Helena office. Jami is a Helena native and Capital High School graduate. She earned a degree in computer programming at the UM-Helena College of Technology. She previously worked in the admissions office at UM-Helena College of Technology and before that as a paraprofessional at Rossiter Elementary School in Helena. Jami has five children and four grandsons. For fun, Jami likes to camp and spend time with her family.

Suzie Wilkins, Membership and Information Systems Specialist

Suzie is a membership and IT specialist in the Helena headquarters office who has been with MEA-MFT/MFPE for over 10 years.  When not busy assisting members or troubleshooting a misbehaving computer, this Helena native enjoys adventures abroad with her wife, taking abundant pictures of their cat, Bob, or tickling funny bones with her improve comedy troupe—Cow Tipping Comedy.

Field Staff

Tom Burgess, NW2 Field Consultant

Tom is a field consultant in the MFPE Missoula field office. Previously, Tom represented all our MFPE college and university faculty bargaining units, as well as a few state employee locals. Tom is a fourth-generation Montanan who has spent more than 20 years working as a local union representative. After starting with the Montana Federation of Teachers in 1991, Tom earned his graduate degree in Labor Studies from UMASS. From 1999-2005, Tom worked for Blue Cross Blue Shield, the last three years as executive director of the Caring Foundation. When he’s not working, you can find him floating on a river or deep in the mountains.

Megan Casey, SW5 Field Consultant
Melanie Charlson, NW3 Field Consultant
Jeff Cowee, SW6 Field Consultant

Jeff works with MFPE’s North Central Montana members, based out of the Great Falls office. He previously taught middle school for over 20 years and served as president of the Helena Education Association. His hobbies include golfing, skiing, and wood working.  His favorite quote stems from an Ethiopian proverb: “When spiders unite, they can tie down a lion.”

Maggie Copeland, East Field Consultant

Maggie was hired in 1989 by MEA and she's dedicated the last 30 years to working with union members and leaders in Eastern Montana.

Cindy DeTienne, Administrative Assistant

Cindy is our administrative assistant for the MFPE Southwest Service Area based in Helena. She has been with MFPE since September 2000. When not at work, Cindy enjoys doing things with and for her family.

Heather Diehl, NW1 Field Consultant

Heather works out of MFPE’s Missoula office as a field consultant. She has worked variously as a field representative, political organizer, and local leader for MEA-MFT and MFPE since 2005.

Heather is married to another public servant: Missoula fire Chief Jason Diehl. They have two grown children and two grandchildren. In her free time, you can find her exploring the deserts of Arizona or boating and kayaking in Montana’s lakes and rivers with her family.

Joe Dompier, SC2 Field Consultant
Brian Ehli, SW1 Field Consultant

Brian works as a field consultant for Southwest Montana members, working out of our Helena field office. He previously worked as a teacher and served as president of the Billings Education Association. He lives in Helena with his wife, Shelly, two children, and dogs Weedle and Paco. Brian enjoys hiking, camping, fishing, golf, and traveling.

Jeff Greenfield, SC2 Field Consultant

Jeff is based out of MFPE’s Billings office, working as a field consultant with members in Southeastern Montana. Before becoming a field consultant in 2013, Jeff worked as a science teacher and local union officer for 27 years. He began his career in the Shepherd Public Schools, where he taught, coached football and track, and served as president of his local union. Jeff later taught at Billings Senior High, where he served through his local union ranks and eventually became president of the Billings Education Association. Jeff also served on the MEA-MFT board of directors and was later elected MEA-MFT secretary-treasurer and vice president.

Carol Haverlandt, NC2 Field Consultant

Carol is based in the MFPE Great Falls field office, where she has served North Central Montana members for 10 years. Prior to that, she taught for 28 years, in settings ranging from a one-room school house on a Hutterite Colony to a small K-12 district, and finally teaching middle school gifted education and English for Great Falls Public Schools. Carol was raised in a union family, with her parents often attending union meetings after work. When she’s not working, you can find Carol, her husband, and their dogs skiing, hiking, canoeing, or walking in the park.

Tammy Harris, SW3 Field Consultant

Tammy works as a field consultant out of the MFPE Southwest field office in Helena. She serves all our higher education locals, a few K-12 locals, and one state agency -- Montana Youth Challenge -- along with Tri County Head Start. Tammy previously taught grades K-5 in Helena for 17 years, then served as full-time release president of the Helena Education Association. She served as MEA-MFT vice president in 2011-2014 before joining the staff. Tammy has three children and a black lab puppy named Angus. She loves to golf and mountain bike.

Jeff Howe, NW4 Field Consultant
Don Jones, SW2 Field Consultant

Based in our Helena office, Don is MFPE’s director of member rights. He’s also a field consultant for several MFPE locals in Southwest Montana. Don previously worked as an attorney, specializing in employment discrimination cases. Don and his wife, Sandy, who is also an MFPE member and teacher, have four kids. Don is an avid mountain biker, snowboarder, skier, hiker, and hunter. He also coaches kids’ football and referees lacrosse.

Amy Legg, Administrative Assistant
Shelli Lavinder-Schwalk, NC1 Field Consultant
Scott T. McCulloch, SC1 Field Consultant

Previously a public school teacher and president of the Billings Education Association, Scott now serves as a field consultant in the MFPE Billings field office.

Larry Nielsen, SW4 Field Consultant

Larry serves Southwest Montana members as an MFPE field consultant in the Helena office. Larry’s locals include the Montana Department of Corrections, Historical Society, Acadia and several k-12 school districts. Before joining MFPE, Larry taught music and served as president of his local union, the Helena Education Association. He also served on the MEA-MFT board.

Shauna Reichelt, Administrative Assistant
Kate Treib, Administrative Assistant

Kate is the administrative assistant in MFPE’s Missoula field office. A Montana native and Carroll College graduate, Kate was drawn to public service and worked in the nonprofit sector in Missoula before joining the MFPE team. When she’s not working, Kate enjoys experimenting with new vegan recipes and exploring the Montana outdoors with her husband and two pugs. Kate and her husband also like offbeat road trip adventures and traveling to neighboring states to attend concerts.