Meet the MPBC Staff

Heather O’Loughlin, Co-Director, Research and Development

Ph: (406) 422-5848
Email: holoughlin@montanabudget.org

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Heather O’Loughlin most recently served as Legislative Director and Counsel for Senator Max Baucus, managing the Senator’s legislative team. Previously, she served as Legislative Assistant for six years, handling a broad policy portfolio including education, judiciary, banking and economic issues. Heather also clerked for the Senate Finance Committee, specializing in tax policy. She received her JD at the University of Montana School of Law in 2007 and her B.A. in Economics and B.S. in Business Administration – Finance from University of Montana in 2003. While in law school, Heather was a gubernatorial appointee to the Board of Regents, the entity that manages the Montana University System.

Heather is originally from Great Falls, and now lives in Helena with her husband, Neal, and daughter, Madeline.

Tara Jensen, Co-Director, Public Affairs and Operations

Ph: (406) 422-5848
Email: tjensen@montanabudget.org

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Tara Jensen started at the Montana Budget and Policy Center in March of 2014. She joined the team after leaving CASA of Missoula where she served as Executive Director. She received a Master of Public Administration from the University of Montana. For more than ten years, Tara worked in state government and for a number of nonprofit organizations in Montana including the University of Montana Foundation and the Alliance for Climate Protection. Tara spent two years in Washington, D.C. raising funds for several members of Congress. She also served as the Communications Director for the Montana Office of Public Instruction and as the Deputy Chief Clerk at the Montana House of Representatives.

Tara was born in Havre and raised in Conrad and works primarily out of Missoula.

Heather Cahoon, State-Tribal Policy Analyst

Ph: (406) 422-5848
Email: hcahoon@montanabudget.org

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Heather Cahoon started with MBPC in March of 2016. She is a policy scholar whose work has focused largely on the ways in which tribal sovereignty has been impacted by federal legislation, U.S. Supreme Court rulings, and the economic solvency of tribes. She has also been involved in efforts to address an array of socioeconomic issues facing Montana Indians and in general seeks to advance decolonization through the rebuilding of indigenous governments, economies and other social institutions.  She holds an Interdisciplinary PhD in History, Native American Studies and Anthropology from the University of Montana, where she has taught for the past six years. During this time she was named UM’s first Cobell Institute Scholar, a title reserved for faculty who are continuing Eloise Cobell’s legacy of working for justice and equity for American Indians and tribal communities. Heather grew up in St. Ignatius, Montana and is a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

Adreinne Bombelles, Policy Analyst

Ph: (406) 422-5848
E-mail: abombelles@montanabudget.org

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Adrienne Bombelles started with the Montana Budget and Policy Center in August 2017. She moved to Montana in 2012 to serve as an AmeriCorps volunteer, first with the Montana Conservation Corps and then as a coordinator for Graduation Matters Gallatin. Adrienne’s direct service and advocacy experience has focused on juvenile justice reform, community-led development, economic empowerment, and high quality early childhood education. She recently received her Masters of Social Work at the University of Michigan concentrating in social welfare policy and nonprofit program evaluation.

Originally from D.C., Adrienne loves Big Sky Country, exploring its vast trail systems and attending as many bluegrass shows as humanly possible.

Jackie Semmens, Research Fellow

Ph: (406) 422-5848
E-mail: jsemmens@montanabudget.org

Jackie’s public policy research experience has focused on food insecurity, early childhood education, and access to health care. She moved to Montana after serving with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, and earned her Masters degree in Medical Anthropology and Public Health from the University of Montana. She received her undergraduate education in Virginia, where she is originally from, at the College of William and Mary.

Jackie is also a freelance writer and enjoys hiking the hills around Helena with her husband and two young sons.

Hannah Fisher, Office Manager

Ph: (406) 422-5848
Email: hfisher@montanabudget.org

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Originally from Western New York, Hannah Fisher finds herself in love with the Rocky Mountain ridge lines and big skies of Montana. Hannah received her BFA from the Oregon College of Art & Craft in Portland, OR, with an emphasis on Ceramic Art. After four years as Executive Director of The Clay Studio of Missoula, she moved to Helena, MT in 2010. Hannah and her partner dream big and bought an old building that used to be a grocery store. She loves their purchase and loves raising their son and daughter in it.

Kirsten Gerbatsch, Outreach and Communications Coordinator 

Ph: (406) 422-5848
Email: kgerbatsch@montanabudget.org

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Kirsten Gerbatsch started with the Montana Budget & Policy Center in January 2017. Before joining the team, she worked for a range of non-profits with a focus on sustainable agriculture, healthy food access, and child nutrition policy. She served two terms with the Americorps program, FoodCorps, in rural Michigan. Following her service in the midwest, she moved to Montana to manage the state FoodCorps program with the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). In this capacity, she advocated for state and federal farm to school policies, as well as Child Nutrition Reauthorization. Kirsten graduated from Reed College in Portland, OR with a degree in American History.