Robin Kelson, Executive Director

Robin joined AERO’s staff in 2020 after two terms on the AERO Board of Directors. She is a graduate of the Leadership Montana Flagship Class of 2023. Trained as an attorney, biochemist and facilitator, with a talent for synthesizing information, Robin has worked with both start-up and Fortune 500 companies, and held executive positions in the for-profit and non-profit sectors. Her passion and curiosity focuses on human vitality and the resiliency principles built into evolution and ecosystems, and this has led her career choices in the sustainable energy, stewardship agriculture, and nutritional health fields for over 25 years.

Email Robin at

Erin Austin, Director of Community Partners and Sales

Erin believes growing, cooking, and sharing food in community heals. Her diverse career path has always centered on sustainability and equity. She brings experience working on organic farms, managing school meal programs, researching transit oriented development, advocating for sustainable agriculture policy, and directing nature-based therapeutic trauma programs. She believes that through a process of reconnecting to our internal environment, our communities, and the outdoors, we can restore balance with nature, pursue ambitious solutions to climate change, and lead joy-filled, sustainable lives. Erin holds a B.A. in Global Development Studies with a minor in Global Sustainability from the University of Virginia and a 200 hour yoga teacher certification. Erin is a former AERO Board member. Email Erin at:

Sammie McGowan, Director of Marketing and Communications

After graduating from the George Washington University with a BA concentrating in marketing and international business, Sammie set her sights on conquering Corporate America. When that failed to fulfill her, she moved to Alaska to become a hiking guide in Denali National Park where she found her passion for caring for the earth and all its inhabitants. As a Sustainability Educator for the Whitefish School District’s Center for Sustainability and Entrepreneurship, she found a passion for growing healthy food, creating healthy soil, and making healthy food accessible for all people. She is excited to use her marketing background to fulfill Abundant Montana’s Founding Principles, which perfectly align with all her passions! When Sammie isn’t creating content for Abundant Montana, you can find her hiking with her dog, Charlie, rock climbing, or tending to her backyard garden! Email Sammie at:

Emilee Wood, Communications Coordinator for Abundant Montana

Emilee grew up in the eastern woodlands of the Midwest, but she and her husband now call the southwestern Montana mountains “home”. She received her BA from Ball State University, with Majors in Anthropology and English, and a minor in Linguistics.

Through her degree and time abroad, Emilee developed an interest in elevating the stories and voices of others, particularly those which challenge ideas by presenting  “counter-narratives.”

She believes that food and land are a powerful means of constructing identity and community, and that cultivating a reciprocal relationship with the land will result in a future in which all parties flourish.

She can often be found with her hands, and feet, in the dirt, enjoys creating with grown and gathered materials, and receives satisfaction from sharing homegrown food and flowers with the people she loves.

Michal DeChellis, Montana Food Economy Initiative Program Manager

Michal is a food systems consultant with a background in public health, farm to school, and program and project management. Michal is passionate about building an equitable and humane food system and promoting healthy and vibrant individuals, communities, and ecosystems. For information about AERO’s MFEI program contact Michal at:

Clare Jurczak, Billings Community Food System Assessment Coordinator

Clare is AERO’s Billings Community Food System Assessment Coordinator. Clare hails from Alaska where she grew up subsistence fishing and hunting and first developed her love for connecting with people through food. While earning her degree in Environmental Studies at the University of Montana, Clare was introduced to farming at the student PEAS farm and was instantly hooked on growing vegetables. Now living in the rural town of Ballantine, Clare continues to grow, harvest, and cook food for her friends and is learning to raise livestock under the mentorship of her ranching neighbors. With a varied background of natural resource work in Alaska fisheries and environmental education with the Bureau of Land Management, Clare has always valued sustainability and environmental stewardship. Her vision of an equitable food system for Montana is one that embraces ecological and cultural diversity and allows communities to self-actualize sustainable food production practices. Clare is thrilled to be working with AERO to help grow the local food economy in Yellowstone County and surrounding areas. Email Clare at

Kirsten Sabin, Abundant Montana Sales Manager

As a life-long Montana resident, Kirsten has a deep connection to this state, its people and magnificent scenery. She holds a degree in Business Marketing from University of Montana, and has had a diverse career path. Her entrepreneurial spirit led her to start her first small business, a coffee cart, right out of college. After moving to Whitefish, Kirsten discovered a love of sales. As a Web Sales consultant, she witnessed firsthand the positive impact for clients when they were matched with the proper website solution for their needs. After her 2nd child was born, an opportunity to help launch a new children’s footwear company allowed Kirsten the freedom to work from home, and travel to trade shows around the US (with her baby!)

 She and her husband co-owned Stillwater Mountain Lodge & Nordic Ski Center outside Whitefish from 2005-2018. Though wearing many hats as an owner, her main focus was on marketing, guest & community relations as well as event promotion. Kirsten was drawn to join Abundant Montana’s team because she has a desire to help make a positive impact for Montana’s purpose-driven food and farming businesses who are ‘in the trenches’ working hard to succeed.  When she is not working with Abundant Montana, Kirsten enjoys teaching yoga, skiing, hiking, trail running with her Aussie, trying new recipes and family time. She serves on the Board for the Backpack Assistance Program in Whitefish.  Email Kirsten at:

Board of Directors

Sophie Albert, Whitefish

Sophie Albert is the Executive Director at the North Valley Food Bank in Whitefish, MT, where she is working on shifting the focus from traditional emergency food assistance to providing more holistic services and building a strong community food system with abundant access to fresh, nutritious and local food for all. Sophie has more than 10 years of non-profit experience managing educational and social service programs in Indonesia, Egypt, Pakistan and the US.

Sophie is a passionate advocate for socially just systems and resilient communities. Prior to building food security in North-West Montana, Sophie served as the Director for Refugee Programs at The Alliance in Houston, Texas, where she led the Covid-19 response for local refugee and immigrant communities. She holds a Master of Disaster Management from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Sophie is originally from Germany and her family is home in a small farming community in the Lusatian Mountains on the southeastern border with Czech Republic and Poland. She moved to the US in 2016 to join her husband, Chris, after meeting him overseas. In her free time, Sophie loves swimming, snowboarding, writing, rummaging the local bookstore, and exploring the beauty of Montana with her tiny daughter, Frankie, her husband and their dog, Einstein.

Ada Smith, Ph.D., Missoula

Interim Board Chair, Secretary

Growing up on a small farmstead in rural Wisconsin and summers on her grandparents ranch in Montana were formative in developing Ada’s interest in food systems that connect and sustain people and places. Ada is an environmental social scientist and recently finished her PhD at the University of Montana where she worked with ranchers to understand how adaptive rangeland management practices are being utilized to support ecological and economic sustainability in Montana. Currently, she is a postdoctoral scholar at Oregon State University working on research with ranchers across the U.S. to understand linkages between economic, social, and ecological well-being across different grazing management strategies. Ada also has a background in community-based participatory research from her MA at the University of British Columbia where she worked in partnership with Gitxaala Nation to understand and support the integration of Indigenous knowledge into educational curriculum as a pathway toward community food sovereignty. Ada seldom says ‘no’ to adventure and learning new ways to move through landscapes — she is especially excited about developing her recently acquired skills in hunting in order to harvest more of her own food here in Montana.

Jeremy Nadison, Bozeman


Jeremy brings nearly ten years of sustainable infrastructure investment and regional food system development and lending experience to the AERO board. After beginning his career at a project finance investment firm, Jeremy has spent several years supporting his regional food system through land access, processing infrastructure and financing projects. Since working with a private lender for farmers, ranchers and other small food systems companies, Jeremy now works with a variety of energy, food infrastructure, and other businesses on finance and investment activities.

Jeremy lives in Bozeman and loves sewing and spending time in the mountains of Southwest Montana.

Rob Byron, MD, MPH, Hardin

Robert is an internist who lives in Hardin, Montana. He received his undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, served four years as an officer in the US Navy, before then earned his MD from the University of Louisville.   Following residency at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, he moved to Hardin where he worked on the Crow Reservation for over two decades. After retiring from the Indian Health Service Dr. Byron worked as a hospitalist in Billings and helped start Bighorn Valley Health Center, a federally qualified health center in Hardin. He was appointed to the Montana Board of Environmental Review in 2015 and is a former governor of the Montana Chapter of the American College of Physicians. With Lori, his wife, he is co-chair of the Citizens Climate Lobby Health Team and helped start Montana Health Professionals for a Healthy Climate. He is one of the lead authors of the recently released “Climate Change and Human Health in Montana” report. He has been a strong advocate for sustainability, environmental justice and climate change issues at the state and national level.

Scot Chisholm, Whitefish

As Classy‘s CEO, which he co founded in 2006, Scot helped raise $6B+ for social good through that software company and non-profit giving platform. His current Montana-based projects include Haskill Creek Farms, a for-profit social enterprise and certified B Corp, focused on wellness for our human and planetary health, and Save Farmland, a 501 (c) (3) non profit, committed to preserving farmland and supporting the future of sustainable community agriculture and healthy local food access in Montana’s Flathead Valley.

Alternative Energy Resources Organization

Mailing address: PO Box 1558, Helena MT 59624-1558

Physical address: 32 S Ewing St #314, Helena MT 59601