Carlos began to work at LIFTT as Executive Director in October 2019. Before joining LIFTT he worked as an attorney and consultant, as well as a pastor. Carlos has been living in Billings, Montana since April 2006.
In addition to working at LIFTT, Carlos is part of the Montana Statewide Independent Living Council – MTSILC, the National Association of SILCS – NASILCS, and the Montana Association of Centers for Independent Living – MTCIL. His job is to overview the operations of LIFTT, compliance with state and federal policies, manage the grants, develop a resource plan and lead LIFTT’s team.
It is important to say that Carlos deals with several disabilities and is aware of what it means to live independently despite the difficulties posed by them.
Marilyn Gone is originally from the Fort Belknap reservation in North Central Montana. She grew up in the tiny town of Hays and attended St. Paul’s Mission School and boarding schools in Oklahoma and South Dakota, eventually graduating from Harlem High School, Harlem, Montana. After marrying and having two children, she attended MSU-Bozeman, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology with options in both Social Work and Social Justice. She spent many years working in the human services field in a variety of positions in both Montana and California.
After a period of retirement, Marilyn came to work at LIFTT as the front desk receptionist and has been at LIFTT for the past ten years. She has always enjoyed working with and advocating for people. Her role at LIFTT fits perfectly with her interests.
Marilyn is active in the Billings native community, participating in cultural activities and events throughout the year. She is also the representative of LIFTT in the ongoing planning and organizing to develop the Elk River Intertribal Center, which will be a multi-faceted community resource and cultural center for the Billings community.
Marilyn enjoys spending time with her family. Her three adult children and three of her grandchildren also live in Billings. She also has a very large extended family at Fort Belknap and enjoys going home to participate in cultural events and ceremonies.
Self Direct Personal Care Assistant Program
Lanette Brown joined LIFTT in 2008. Lanette brought a wide range of skills to her job as a PCA Program Facilitator. From her roots as a farm girl in Kansas to her medical and clerical education at Walla Walla University in Washington, and her 7 years as a foster parent, Lanette is well-versed in what it takes to provide care for others. When Lanette and her husband married in 1982, she came home with him to Montana to live on his family’s land in Bridger and has loved Montana ever since. She enjoys church, camping, crafts, cooking, and traveling. Lanette enjoys spending time with her husband and family, which includes a son who is serving in the Marine Corps, a beloved daughter-in-law, and 2 wonderful granddaughters.
My name is Freda Mook and I am the program manager here at LIFTT overseeing both the Independent Living (IL) and Self Direct Personal Assistance Services (SDPAS) programs across our entire service area. I was born near the Madison River and Hebgen Lake in Gallatin County and have lived my entire life in Montana. My childhood began in Billings, and through the years I lived in Roundup, Livingston, Butte, and Great Falls. I returned to the Yellowstone Valley and Billings in the spring of 1989, graduating from Billings Skyview High School in 1991. I am proud to be a third-generation Montanan and a descendant of a Montana pioneer family.
I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder – ADD shortly before my eighth birthday. I also have Severe Myopia (advanced nearsightedness), Seasonal Affective Disorder, Sciatica accompanied by nerve damage, and degenerative osteoarthritis of the hips and spine (spondylosis).
I joined LIFTT as a Medicaid Billing Specialist and receptionist in October 2003. Being a disabled child raised by disabled parents has given me a unique perspective on life within the disabled community. Not many people realize that Independent Living is a civil rights movement – one that touches every person at some point in their life. Whether we are born with a disability, acquire one during our lifetime, or if we have friends or family members with a disability, every one of us will face this challenge. I consider myself powerful and successful because I choose to face these challenges head-on every day. Life experiences have made me who I am and my time at LIFTT has given me many opportunities to witness other people’s successes daily.
I have 4 grown children and 4 grandchildren. I love to crochet all sorts of things in my spare time, and I gift all my crocheted afghans to friends and family. I also love camping at Newlan Creek Reservoir near White Sulphur Springs, barbecuing with family, and gardening, as well as being an avid online gamer.
HI! My Name is Valerie Rowlison. I have been a personal care program facilitator at LIFTT since 2020. I have enjoyed learning about the Community First Choice self-direct personal assistance program and assisting consumers that wish to remain in their homes with the assistance of a caregiver who provides them with hands-on help with daily living activities.I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitation from Eastern Montana College (now known as MSU Billings).
My career path has been working with the developmental disability population; spanning from early intervention to aging and long-term care. I have had the opportunity to provide case management services for adults in Wyoming and New Mexico and enjoyed my time as a family support specialist working with young kids and their families in Eastern Montana. For me, the focus was providing person-centered services and promoting the goals and dreams of those I served. I’m a Montana native. I enjoy spending my free time watching movies, hanging out with family and friends; getting competitive on game nights, or window shopping for antiques. When the opportunity arises traveling is highlighted even if it’s just a day trip.
Please call me if you or a family member are Medicaid eligible and need hands-on assistance with dressing, hygiene, bathing, etc. I will be able to assist you if you live in one of the 18 counties of our service area.
Kasey was born in Billings, Montana, and has resided in the suburbs of the Billings area since birth. She has recently joined LIFTT as a PCA Clerical Assistant and part-time receptionist, and she is very excited about the new opportunities working here. Kasey is a graduate of Laurel High School and is currently enrolled in classes for Veterinary Technician Certification. In the past, Kasey has worked with animals and has discovered she has a real passion for it and hopes this certification will result in an enriching lifelong career. When her face isn’t in books for class, Kasey appreciates a fun adventure, jumping at any chance to get out and explore the Treasure State with her fur babies.
Independent Living Program
Community Health Worker/Outreach Coordinator
Senior Glendive IL Specialist/Manager
Glendive IL Specialist/Assistant Manager
Glendive Community Health Worker/IL Specialist
My name is Tricia Cutright and I have been at LIFTT as a Peer Mentor since 2019. Peer mentors provide education, recreation, and support opportunities to individuals. The peer mentor may challenge the mentee with new ideas and encourage the mentee to move beyond the most comfortable things. Most peer mentors are picked for their sensibility, confidence, social skills, and reliability. Currently, I am training with Larry Ketchem to become an Independent Living (IL) specialist. He is blind and I am his reader.
I am a person with invisible disabilities. I have PTSD, Bipolar Disorder 1, and Schizoaffective Disorder Bipolar type. These disabilities are challenging because most people do not understand Mental Health disabilities. I decided to share this information with you on this blog to encourage those who deal with invisible disabilities and let them know that we can live independently. I hope with my work through LIFTT and Mental Health Advocacy I can bring awareness to this issue.
Because of my disabilities, I became involved in the Butte-Silver Bow Mental Health Local Advisory Council in 2016. I was a part of the committee that worked with Montana’s Peer Network to bring the Certified Peer support pilot program to work with Butte’s police department and Mental Health providers.
I moved back to Billings in 2018 and contacted the local Mental Health Advisory Board to continue my involvement with Mental Health Advocacy. I met the board chair who happened to work at LIFTT. He got to know me and interviewed me for the Peer Mentor program. I have been involved with the council now known as the Yellowstone County Behavioral Health Local Advisory Council and LIFTT ever since.
I have an extensive background in Computers, and I hope to someday complete my bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. I only need 5 classes to finish but funding is currently my roadblock. While I am not able at this time to work in the demanding field of technology, I am able to use the skills that I learned in previous work experience to help support staff at LIFTT. I love helping people and making their life easier.
I crochet hats for the homeless and paint pictures for my own enjoyment.
I would encourage anyone with a disability across our service area who wants to help people to please consider becoming a Peer Mentor at LIFTT and we will be able to work together for the advancement of the independent living cause.
My name is Larry Ketchem. I was born in Billings. MT, in December of 1971. I graduated from Billings Senior High School in 1988 and was a member of the wrestling team. I also graduated from Montana State University Billings with a Rehabilitation degree in 1999. I am happily married to Marcia and have a wonderful daughter.
I work at LIFTT as an Independent Living (IL) Specialist. I am a person that lives with a vision disability, so I understand what our consumers go through, and what barriers they must overcome to reach their goals and live independently daily. Being low vision requires me to be well-organized in order to not get lost. Everything must have a specific place and always be put in that spot. My memory helps me remember a lot of things. If you are vision impaired, you are not alone. Allow me to remind you that there are over 25 million people in the United States who experience at least some vision loss. Many people believe that going blind leads to a complete loss of independence but that is not true and I am proof of it. There are lots of technology that can help a low vision and blind person live independently. I use special software, magnifiers, audio texts, audiobooks, voice recognition, and other instruments.
This is my second time working at LIFTT. I first worked at LIFTT from 1998 to 2010, when I retired. In November 2020, I decided to return to LIFTT because I wanted to serve the disabled community of Southeastern Montana.
If you are low vision or blind and live in one of the eighteen counties of our service area come to LIFTT and let us work together to improve the quality of your life.
Things I like to do in my free time are playing with my three dogs, listening to audiobooks, watching professional and college football, and playing video games. What I love the most is spending quality time with my wife of 25 years. We usually set aside time during the week to do something special together. Every day we sit down to eat a meal together and talk about our day. The moments we spend together increase our happiness and satisfaction help to reduce our stress and anxiety lead to a healthier lifestyle, and lengthen our life. We motivate each other to become the best version of ourselves.
Jed has been with LIFTT since 2010 and is the Communication and Government Affairs Specialist. As a person with a couple of different disabilities, he finds it very rewarding to use his vast knowledge of history, journalism, government, politics, and the law to help our consumers achieve their personal goals, as well as work with colleagues across the state and nation as a disability community to achieve social and political change.
With a B.A. in History with a minor in Political Science from MSUB, Jed realized he had a knack for legislation and a passion for reporting and writing. So much so that during his time at MSUB he joined and was part of the editorial staff of the school paper, The Retort. In 2006 he was also a part of a state senator’s campaign.
Being a fan of athletics led Jed to work as a sports reporter for the Sidney Herald. Jed always enjoyed watching baseball, football, hockey, and golf, and this opportunity gave him the chance to combine two of his passions. In fact, he even enjoys hitting the links up when he gets a chance and taking his bike out when the weather permits.
Considered somewhat of an expert trivia player, Jed participated in College Bowl all five years he was at MSUB, and was on three teams that won the Northwest Regionals and earned a trip to the national finals. He has taken the online Jeopardy test several times, but so far has only gotten as far as an in-person audition in San Francisco a few years ago – as they used to say about the Brooklyn Dodgers “There is always next year!”.
My name is Jennifer Hawkinson and I work in the Glendive office as a Senior Independent Living Specialist & the Office Manager, assisting people with disabilities to live independently and enjoy life to the fullest. I am so grateful for the support LIFTT receives from all counties and cities in our service area. There are so many wonderful partners who believe in what LIFTT does and want us to succeed and provide services to those who desire to live independently. Thank you very much for supporting us!
I have lived in Eastern Montana most of my life and would not move to live anywhere else. I absolutely love Montana and its people. Our state is a very special place and Montanans are the kindest, most friendly, most hardworking, and most community-oriented Americans that have ever lived in the nation. I love being surrounded by skies, and sunshine throughout the year even when it snows. The smiles, solidarity, and encouragement of my neighbors and co-workers make me feel warm and welcome.
Glendive and surrounding cities are the place where Montana life still exists, and community living is a lifestyle. I know my neighbors and greet them everywhere I go. We care for and support each other. I meet friends if I go to a restaurant, grocery shopping, the courthouse, or the hospital. It is like being part of a big family that does not have skin color, race, religion, or political ideology. We all welcome and accept each other whether we are able or disabled. Montana is where I work and serve others through LIFTT.
I have been working at LIFTT for over 2 years. I previously worked for LIFTT 10 years ago but left to work for other organizations. Life brought me back to LIFTT during the COVID-19 pandemic and it was a great opportunity for both of us.
I have over 20 years of experience working with a wide variety of people in diverse settings. I have been immersed in communities all over the Eastern side of the Treasure State, through a variety of positions that I have worked including the Boys and Girls Club of Dawson County as the Program Director and Action for Eastern Montana as a Youth Employment and Training Specialist.
I am outgoing and enjoy engaging people in conversation to tell them what LIFTT offers and what resources are available to them. I have developed the ability to break down information and make it easy for people to understand. I learned how to help navigate LIFTT’s consumers through the yellow tape, allowing them to become their own advocates.
When I am not at the office or traveling and doing outreach for LIFTT, I enjoy spending time with my husband Mike, my sons Joe and Jacob, my daughter Jordan, and my friends. I have 3 dogs named Simba, Murphy, and Chewbacca. They are a lot of fun.
If you need any assistance or just would like to talk, please do not hesitate to contact me at (406) 948-8503 or email@example.com. I am looking forward to hearing from you.
My name is Tonnette Jensen, I was born and reared in Washington State. When I was 18, I felt like I needed to be elsewhere, and that is when I decided to make a big move to Eastern Montana. I have been a part of the LIFTT team for almost two years, and I am excited to be a part of the constant improvements and changes of LIFTT as well as the amazing team we have here. I love challenges and problem-solving. I hope to be able to assist you in getting to where you want to be in life!
Coming to LIFTT, I bring the knowledge of being a strong advocate for myself and others. Working with people who have disabilities has made me want to see change, address the tough issues, and provide a voice for those who feel like they don’t have one. When I hear the word “disability” I think of something beautiful, and strong, I want to help people with disabilities think that way about themself.
During my free time, I like to hang out with my husband as well as my three dogs and three cats at home. Nothing beats watching “Golden Girls” while being with the people and animals I love.
My name is Tara Robison. I have been an Independent Living (IL) Specialist and Living Well in Community (LWC) Facilitator at LIFTT since 2022.
Not all disabilities are visible. Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) and Depression are two examples. I was diagnosed with SAD and Depression in my 20’s. SAD is an intense fear of social interaction and is often associated with social avoidance and impairments. SAD can be a chronic mental health condition, but learning coping skills in psychotherapy and taking medications can help us gain confidence and improve our ability to interact with others. Depression causes us to be irritable and socially isolated. At first, when diagnosed, I did not understand what was happening. Once I began to take the prescribed medication and learned the skills to help me cope with and overcome the control my anxiety had on my life, things improved, and I became the outgoing person I have always been.
I experienced such an improvement that I returned to school in the fall of 2012 when my youngest child was a senior in High School. I attended Clover Park Technical College in Lakewood, Washington, and took a two- and half-year course to become a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA). It was not easy going back to school in my 40s after my children were grown up and after having had an anxiety disorder. I was determined to be the first woman in my family to graduate college. I am proud to say that I Graduated 2nd in my class in the spring of 2015. I was on the college President’s list twice [The President’s list is an award each quarter for undergraduates who achieve a 4.0 GPA], and the Vice President’s list once [The Vice President’s List is compiled at the end of each academic quarter to recognize outstanding student achievement]. Before returning to school, I worked several jobs as a customer service representative and caregiver, including having a childcare business at home. We are a military family, so we moved a few times. I am a retired army wife of a wonderful supporting husband who served our country for 26 years.
I have four grown children and several grandchildren. I love hiking, camping, quilting, and spending time with my family, friends, and animals.
My name is Nancy Grigsby I was born in Glendive and raised in Beach North Dakota. I lived in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Grayling, Michigan before moving back to Eastern Montana in 2007. I have been with LIFTT in the Glendive Office since April 2022. I have 4 daughters and 6 grandchildren. They are my pride and joy.
I have spent much of my life doing service work, from running a home daycare center and raising my children to working as a Certified Nursing Assistance at a nursing home, as a home health aide, and in group home settings. I enjoy doing anything I can to help people live their best life. In my free time, I enjoy reading daily devotionals, listening to Christian music, crafting, and making meals for family and friends.
When I started my job at LIFTT, it felt like home to me. I joined LIFTT as an Independent Living (IL) Specialist in April of 2022. LIFTT is a great workplace. I enjoy being an IL Specialist. I want to become a strong voice for disability rights and independent living and work to assist consumers like you in maintaining their lives independently in the community. Essentially, living independently is having opportunities to make decisions that affect our lives and pursue the activities of our choosing, limited only by the decisions we make. I look forward to making connections with our consumers in the eastern part of our service area.
Tanya did most of her growing up in Wyoming, and moved to Billings in 2007. She has been working at LIFTT for over seven years. Tanya is the Assistant Peer Coordinator, which entails supporting and advocating for peer mentors through skills training and confidence-building to empower them to live successfully in the community.
Tanya attended college in Sheridan and comes to LIFTT with life experience in living and working independently, with visual impairment since birth.
When Tanya isn’t working she enjoys international travel, going to movies, and don’t get her started on descripted audio. Tanya also enjoys a good laugh with her friends but will never admit to the shenanigans.