Alliance Hits 350 Member Milestone; Workiva CTO Jeff Trom to Serve as New Board Chair

Jeff Trom, Workiva Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, is the new Board Chair of the Montana High Tech Business Alliance Board of Directors. Photo by Tommy Kurdy, Ndigena.

By Christina Henderson

The last few months have been a season of growth and change for the Montana High Tech Business Alliance.

On July 9, the Alliance hit a new milestone as we welcomed our 350th member – WhiteBark, LLC, a telecommunications software consulting firm in Missoula headed by Ethan Schroeder. It is amazing to see how much the Alliance has grown since we launched with 20 founding members in 2014.

At the same time, three of our founding board members are ending their terms after four years of service to the Alliance.

On May 1st, Lance Tinseth, CIO of Murdoch’s Ranch and Home Supply, announced that he is leaving Montana and the Alliance Board and Chair position as he and his family are moving to Colorado. Rob Gilmore, Executive Director of NRMEDD, and David Hayden, Co-founder of Service Target, also resigned from the board to pass the torch to new leaders.

It has been hard for me to say goodbye to three board members who hired me as Executive Director in 2014 and have done so much to shape the Alliance into what it is today. But as we work through the transition, I am excited for our next chapter.

On June 27th, the Alliance Board of Directors elected Jeff Trom, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of Workiva in Bozeman, to serve as the new Board Chair. Trom is a Co-founder of Workiva, a publicly-traded SaaS firm, as well as a previous tech company, Engineering Animation, that was acquired in 2000. As a founding board member of the Alliance, he will help carry the mission and vision of the Montana High Tech Business Alliance forward into our next phase of growth, along with three other continuing board members:

  • Jason Mittelstaedt, founding board member, Partner at Yellowstone Growth Partners, Bozeman and former Chief Marketing Officer, RightNow Technologies
  • Paige Williams, Founder and CEO, Audience Awards, Missoula
  • Liz Marchi, Founder of Frontier Angels and Liz Marchi Consulting, Polson

The Board of Directors also welcomed two new members in July.

Tom Stergios, SVP Strategy and Corporate Development for Advanced Technology Group (ATG), Missoula. A native Missoulian, Stergios returned home after working as a consultant internationally on six continents for Accenture, Axiom, IBM, Cygent, and Convergys. He started at ATG working remotely in his basement and then launched the Missoula Solutions Center in 2011, growing his team to more than 135 employees. Stergios/ATG is a founding member, one of Montana’s fastest growing tech employers, and among the Alliance’s biggest supporters from day one.

Kelly Schwager, Vice President, Global Communications for Oracle, Columbia Falls. Born and raised in Silicon Valley, Schwager moved to Columbia Falls around six years ago where she works remotely. She previously served as Executive Vice President at global PR firm Edelman and Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer for the IOT transportation company Streetline, Inc. Oracle is a founding member, and Schwager has been a generous and enthusiastic supporter of the Alliance. We’re thrilled she will now lend us her time, expertise, and industry connections in a more official capacity serving on the board.

Four years ago, the Montana High Tech Business Alliance was launched by seven founding board members – Greg Gianforte, Jeff Trom, Lance Tinseth, Rob Irizarry, Rob Gilmore, David Hayden, and Jason Mittelstaedt. They all happened to be male, and all in Bozeman, but they had a vision to ultimately create a nonpartisan organization that would be statewide and diverse.

Today, 50 percent of the Alliance’s six Board of Directors members are female. Two are in Bozeman, two in Missoula, and two in the Flathead Valley – representing our three largest hubs of membership.

A seventh board seat is still under consideration. The board is also looking at additional ways to further engage the talents of our Board of Advisors and other leaders in our membership across the state.

As the Board of Directors begins the process of onboarding and strategic planning, we welcome input as to how the Alliance can provide value for you, our members, and the ways you might like to contribute to supporting Montana’s booming high-tech sector.

About the author: Christina Quick Henderson is executive director of the Montana High Tech Business Alliance and adjunct professor of management and organizational behavior in the College of Business at the University of Montana.

About the publisher: Launched in 2014, the Montana High Tech Business Alliance is a statewide membership organization made up of 350 high tech and manufacturing firms and affiliates.

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