Leadership Team

Picture of Alison Paul

Alison Paul

Executive Director
Alison Paul has served as MLSA's Executive Director since January of 2011 and is responsible for the overall management and operations of MLSA. Ms. Paul graduated from the University of Kansas School of Law, then spent 7 years in private practice in Chicago. Ms. Paul began her career with MLSA as a staff attorney in 1999, becoming MLSA's Deputy Director in 2003. In 2005, the National Legal Aid and Defender Association awarded MLSA’s Executive Director Alison Paul the Innovations in Technology Award, and In 2012, Ms. Paul was one of only six legal aid program directors invited to participate in the first White House Forum on civil Legal Aid. Ms. Paul currently serves on the Board of Directors of the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, and the Montana Nonprofit Association. Ms. Paul also serves on the Montana Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission.

Picture of Tal Goldin

Tal Goldin

Director of Advocacy
Tal Goldin is a civil rights attorney focusing on the rights of students with disabilities to receive an appropriate education free from discrimination. He has litigated numerous federal civil rights cases before administrative, state, and federal tribunals. Prior to joining Montana Legal Services Association, Tal was the Supervising Attorney for the Education Unit at Disability Rights Montana (the federally mandated civil rights protection and advocacy system for Montana); worked in a private family law, landlord-tenant, real estate, and business practice; and worked in development and prosecution at the Kings County (Brooklyn, NY) District Attorney's Office (KCDA). Tal is a former adjunct professor at the both the Alexander Blewett III School of Law and the Phyllis J. Washington College of Education and Human Sciences at the University of Montana and has lectured nationally in his practice areas. Tal is a graduate of the State University of New York, Purchase College (cum laude) and the University of Montana School of Law. He is a past president of the Western Montana Bar Association and a 2013 fellow of the New Leaders Council.

Picture of Bill Hooks

Bill Hooks

Director of Advocacy
Bill Hooks joined MLSA following a career as a criminal defense attorney in state government and in private practice. Bill served for five years as Chief Public Defender for Montana’s Office of the Public Defender. He also served as Chief Appellate Defender for eight years, and worked in private practice representing clients in state and federal courts. In 2006 the Montana Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers named Bill its Criminal Defense Lawyer of the Year. Bill is a recipient of the State Bar of Montana’s Local Professionalism Award.

Picture of Lisa Heimbach

Lisa Heimbach

Director of Finance and Administration
Lisa Heimbach began her work at MLSA in 2005 as the Finance and Grants Manager and staff accountant. Lisa attended Eastern Montana College in Billings, and previously worked at AIRPAGE/Capital Answering Service in Helena.

Picture of Michelle Potts

Michelle Potts

Director of Strategic Focus and Development
Michelle Potts joined MLSA in September 2013. She graduated from the University of Denver, College of Law, Order of the Coif, then clerked for Justice Marsha K. Ternus on the Supreme Court of Iowa. Before joining MLSA, Ms. Potts helped connect children to outdoor experiential science learning in Colorado, practiced employee benefits law at a firm in Chicago, and had a solo general law practice in Pueblo, Colorado.

Picture of Tracie Poindexter

Tracie Poindexter

Director of Intake
Tracie Poindexter joined MLSA in 1991. Tracie began her career with MLSA working as a secretary/receptionist in MLSA’s Havre office. In 1998, Tracie transferred to MLSA’s Helena office. Over the last 27 years Tracie has served MLSA in different capacities. In 2010, Tracie began supervising MLSA’s HelpLine and its Intake Specialists and Navigators. The HelpLine is the first point of contact for a majority of MLSA’s clients. Tracie’s goal is to make sure that callers get high quality services starting with the first phone call.

Picture of Angie Wagenhals

Angie Wagenhals

Director of Pro Bono
Angie Wagenhals joined MLSA in 2011 and serves as MLSA’s Director of Pro Bono. She received a Bachelor’s Degree in English and Women’s and Gender Studies from Willamette University. In her free time, Angie enjoys exploring the back roads of Montana with her husband and dog.

Staff

Alexandra House joined MLSA as a Domestic Violence Attorney in 2020. She received her J.D. from Tulane University School of Law where she also received a certificate in International and Comparative Law. While at Tulane, Alexandra worked with the Criminal Justice Clinic where she advocated for clients at various stages of the justice system. She also interned with the Innocence Project, the Bozeman Office of the Public Defender, and Hogan Lovells in Paris. She received her undergraduate degree from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. In her free time she enjoys riding ATV's or cross-country skiing, depending on the season.
Akilah Lane joined MLSA as a Domestic Violence Attorney in 2020. She received her J.D. from Santa Clara University School of Law. While at SCU, Akilah interned at the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley in their Mental Health Advocacy Program where she worked on patient's rights and economic issues for persons living with mental illness. She also interned at the San Jose Public Defender's office, working in both the felony trial and juvenile justice divisions. After graduating from SCU, Akilah completed a graduate fellowship where she worked as a program manager for the Global Leaders for Justice Program, providing leadership training to social justice leaders from around the world. In her free time, Akilah enjoys running marathons, trail running, and being outside as much as possible.
Alex Clark began his current position at MLSA in 2016 after spending two years at MLSA as a Justice for Montanans AmeriCorps Member. He graduated from the University of Montana with a B.A. in History and Philosophy. In his free time, Alex enjoys spending time outdoors where he has the space, time, and solitude to contemplate the great mysteries of life and humanity’s place in the world.
Amy Hall is MLSA's housing specialist and works on MLSA’s Agricultural Workers project. She also has experience representing domestic violence survivors. She received her J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law. Before coming to MLSA, Ms. Hall worked at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc., primarily in housing and farmworker law. Ms. Hall was recognized by the Montana Justice Foundation as one of its 2014 Champions of Justice, awarded for her extraordinary efforts on behalf of equal justice.
Anna Chithelen started at MLSA in 2016 as a Legal Assistant and works with Attorney Beth Hayes in MLSA’s Consumer Law practice group. Prior to working at MLSA, Anna served at the Self-Help Law Center in Billings as an AmeriCorps in the Justice for Montanans program. Anna grew up in New York.
Barbara Harris started at MLSA in March 2019 to assist elder Montanans with their civil legal issues. She has over 35 years of experience as an attorney, including many years working statewide as a prosecutor. While Barb uses the technology that is a part of our lives, she gains perspective and solace from being outside. She enjoys hiking, biking, and skiing.
Beth Hayes received her J.D. from the University of Montana School of Law in 2009. Ms. Hayes has previously worked with the Foreclosure Assistance Program, as a Triage Staff Attorney, and as an Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Fellow at MLSA. She also currently serves as the Vice President of the Western Montana Bar Association, and plays trumpet in the Missoula City Band and Missoula Community Concert Band.
Carrie Steere joined MLSA in 2020 as an Intake Specialist. She previously attended University of Washington, where she studied Sociology and Business. She grew up near Seattle, WA before moving to Helena in 2013. In her free time, she loves spending time with her family in the outdoors.
Cecelia Yager joined MLSA in 2020. She earned her Business/Accounting associates degree from Helena College of Technology in 2014. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and her 2 chiweenies, Frank and May.
Diana Garrett is a Senior Attorney with MLSA’s Domestic Violence Practice Group and she also supervises a clinical program for the Alexander Blewett III School of Law at the University of Montana. Diana received her undergraduate degree in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and received her J.D. in 2002 from the University of Montana School of Law (now the Alexander Blewett III School of Law at the University of Montana). Diana is based in MLSA’s Missoula office and serves on the Montana Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team, the Planet Kids Supervised Visitation Center Advisory Council, the Legal Issues Committee of the Ravalli County Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and the JUST RESPONSE (Missoula Justice System Coordinated Team Response to Intimate Partner Violence).
Ed Higgins received his J.D. from the University of Montana School of Law in 2000. After earning his law degree, he served as Judicial Staff Attorney to the Honorable John W. Larson. Mr. Higgins has been with MLSA since 2001 and has previously served as a Managing Attorney and Staff Attorney. Mr. Higgins serves as a member of the Board of Directors at the Community Dispute Resolution Center of Missoula. Additionally, he is the Vice Chair of the Western Montana Bar Association Pro Bono Committee, a member of the Missoula County Foster Care Review Board, and a member of the Montana Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission's Committee on Self Represented Litigants. Mr. Higgins also sits on an advisory committee for the Missoula Housing Authority’s Housing Self Sufficiency programs. In 2016, Mr. Higgins received the George L. Bousliman Professionalism Award from the Montana State Bar. The Bousliman award recognizes lawyers who have established a reputation for professionalism and have demonstrated extraordinary professionalism by contributing time and resources to public service, public education, charitable or pro bono activities, and encouraging respect for the law and our legal system by making the legal system more accessible and responsive.
Emma O’Neil joined MLSA as a Development Associate in 2015. She graduated from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR with a B.A. in History and has previously worked at the Lewis and Clark Library. A Helena native, Emma enjoys spending time outdoors and traveling.
Emma Whitehead joined MLSA in March 2020 as an intake specialist. She earned a B.A in International Political Economy from the University of Puget Sound. Prior to joining Montana Legal Services, Emma served as an AmeriCorps VISTA at Area IV Agency on Aging. Emma grew up in Washington, DC and enjoys dragon boating, traveling, and baking.
Erica Thomas joined MLSA in July 2018 as a Legal Assistant for MLSA’s Montana Health Justice Partnership and Agricultural Worker programs in Helena. Prior to joining MLSA, Erica worked as project coordinator for the Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative with the Southern Poverty Law Center, and for two years in Panama and the Dominican Republic as a Princeton in Latin America fellow. She graduated from American University in Washington D.C.
Erick Valencia received his J.D. from Alexander Blewett III School of Law in 2017. During law school, Erick interned with the ACLU of Montana and served on its board, worked on consumer protection issues with Montana's Office of Consumer Protection, and was an Agricultural Worker outreach intern with MLSA. Prior to law school, he served as an AmeriCorps member with MLSA's Foreclosure Assistance Program for two years.
Grace Johnson joined MLSA in 2020 as a Legal Assistant for MLSA's Domestic Violence Practice Group. She is a recent graduate of Montana State University, graduating in December 2019 with a B.A. in Political Science: International Relations and Hispanic Studies. She hopes to attend graduate school in the future. In her spare time she loves to hike, rock climb, camp with her friends, and spend time outside.
Harley Brown is the Health Justice Project Coordinator for MLSA joined the team in 2020. She received a Bachelors of Arts in Political Science from Western Washington University in 2014. She is a Justice for Montanans AmeriCorps alumni and returned to MLSA after spending four years in program management at rural and urban domestic violence and sexual assault victim advocacy organizations in Washington state. In her spare time Harley enjoys knitting, sewing and camping.
Heidi Sanders is a 2016 graduate of the University of Montana’s Alexander Blewett III School of Law. She comes to MLSA from a clerkship with the Honorable Amy Eddy, 11th Judicial District Court judge. Before attending law school, Ms. Sanders worked as a victim advocate serving survivors of intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and stalking on the Flathead Indian Reservation. She was raised in Helena and is excited to be living and practicing in her hometown.
Jain received her J.D. from the University of Montana School of Law in 2011. Prior to joining MLSA in 2019, Jain operated her own family law practice in Missoula. Jain embraces the opportunity her position grants her to travel all over that great state of Montana. In her free time Jain enjoys music, fishing, travel, and DIY hands-on projects.
Kallie Dale-Ramos joined MLSA as an Attorney for MLSA's Montana Health Justice Partnership in 2016. She received her J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law in 2015, where she represented clients during immigration proceedings and served as a human rights law scholar. Before starting at MLSA, Kallie was a legal fellow at the Indian Law Resource Center in Helena, advocating for legal reforms to increase tribal sovereignty in cases of violence against women. In 2020, Kallie received the American Bar Association SCLAID Centennial Access to Justice Award for her work on the Montana Health Justice Partnership.
Kathryn Seaton received her J.D. from the University of Iowa College of Law in 2016. During law school, Ms. Seaton was a legal intern at the Montana Supreme Court where she worked for Justice Beth Baker on Access to Justice Commission projects. Prior to assuming her position as the Tribal Law attorney at MLSA, she spent two years working as a staff attorney in MLSA’s Domestic Violence Practice Group, representing survivors of domestic violence in state and tribal courts in central and north-central Montana.
Katy A. Reed is a Crime Victims Justice Corps Fellow. Katy received her J.D. from the University of Washington School of Law and her undergraduate degree from the University of Montana. Her prior experience includes an Elder Justice AmeriCorps Fellowship with MLSA, representing victims of elder abuse and exploitation. She has also represented indigent defendants, worked with survivors of violence on immigration issues, and advocated for low-income clients in housing and consumer law. Katy has also assisted incarcerated mothers with family law and interned with the Innocence Project Northwest. Prior to law school, she served as an AmeriCorps Justice for Montanans member at MLSA where she coordinated a pro bono program.
Kearan started at MLSA in August of 2019 as the Tribal Law Practice Group Legal Assistant in Helena after completing a year as a Justice For Montanans AmeriCorps member. She earned her BA in political economy from Williams College in 2018. Kearan is a Massachusetts native who loves Boston sports and enjoys hiking around Helena’s South Hills.
Krista Partridge joined MLSA in 2012. She graduated from the University of Montana with a B.A. in Political Science. In her free time, she enjoys traveling and gardening.
Kylee Gibson joined MLSA as a Law Clerk for MLSA's Domestic Violence Practice Group in 2020. A 6th generation Montanans, Kylee has a B.S. in Animal and Veterinary Science from the University of Wyoming and received her law degree from the University of Wyoming College of Law. Prior to joining MLSA, she worked as a legal assistant in a private immigration firm.
Megan Dishong joined MLSA in 2020 as the Medical Legal Partnership attorney in partnership with Providence St. Patrick's Hospital. Ms. Dishong graduated from the University of Montana School of Law in 2007 with high honors. She then served as a law clerk for the Honorable John Warner at the Montana Supreme Court and the Honorable Donald W. Molloy at the United States District Court for the District of Montana. Following her clerkships, Ms. Dishong spent several years as an associate attorney at Garlington, Lohn, and Robinson, and she then served almost six years as an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Montana. As an Assistant U.S. Attorney, Ms. Dishong was responsible for developing the affirmative civil enforcement program for enforcement of federal laws and regulations across a variety of programs in the state of Montana, primarily regulation of health care providers. In her spare time, Ms. Dishong enjoys spending time with her husband, children, and pets, as well as cross-country skiing, hiking, and reading.
Megan Helton joined MLSA in 2019 as the Disaster Program Coordinator. Prior to joining MLSA, she worked for several AmeriCorps programs, including Texas Conservation Corps where she built and managed a program that focused on disaster response and volunteerism. She is originally from Kentucky and graduated from American University in Washington, DC. In her spare time, she can be found with her partner, climbing high in the Montana alpine, smiling no matter the season.
Mēghan F. Scott is MLSA's Justice for Montanans (JFM) AmeriCorps Coordinator and joined the team in 2016. Mēghan received her Bachelor's degree in Sociology and Social Justice from the University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne, Indiana and is a two year alumni of the JFM AmeriCorps project. In her free time she likes to sing in the chorus with the Helena Symphony and act in productions at Grandstreet Theatre.
Mel Fisher has been with MLSA since 2015. She is the MLSA Victim Legal Assistance Network Project Coordinator, a project aiming at improving access to civil legal aid and supportive services to victims of crime throughout the state. She earned her undergraduate degree in Business Management from the University of Jamestown in 2000, and her Master's Degree in Public Administration and Nonprofit Management from the University of Washington in 2007. Mel has worked in the fields of victim advocacy, violence prevention, and community building for nearly 20 years, with organizations including the Friendship Center of Helena, EmpowerMT, and the City of Seattle’s Mayor’s Office on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.
Michaela McNichol is a Program Assistant for MLSA's Pro Bono and Low Income Taxpayer Clinic programs. She joined MLSA in May of 2019. Before joining MLSA she worked at Corette Library, United Way of the Lewis and Clark Area, and as a lobbyist’s assistant during Montana’s 65th Legislative Session. She earned her BA in political science at Carroll College. A Portland native, Michaela loves dreary weather, good coffee, and indie music. In her free time she paints with oils, reads old books, and volunteers as a writing tutor and as a Friend of CASA. Michaela hopes to one day become a family lawyer.
Sadie Michael joined MLSA in 2019 as a domestic violence intake navigator. She earned a B.S in sociology and a B.A in philosophy with a minor in history from Rocky Mountain College. She enjoys a variety of hobbies and interests.
Shannon Fleetwood joined MLSA as an Accounting Technician in 2007. She graduated from Idaho State University with a B.A. in Elementary Education. She loves spending time in the mountains, particularly during Montana summers.
Stephanie Selig joined MLSA as an Administrative Assistant in 2020. Prior to joining MLSA, she worked as an Adventure Travel Coordinator and as an Office Manager for numerous small businesses and the Food Bank of Northern Arizona. She attended the Northern Arizona University School of Forestry. In her free time, Stephanie loves to backpack, raft, and travel.
Susan Callaghan joined MLSA as an attorney in January 2019. As a member of MLSA's Domestic Violence Practice Group, she provides legal services to survivors of domestic violence through MLSA's partnership with Safe Space in Butte. She received her J.D. from the University of Montana School of Law. Before joining MLSA, she worked for the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services and as a solo practitioner.
Tammy Peterson joined MLSA in 2019 as an Administrative Assistant after retiring from the Montana Supreme Court as IT Manager. In her free time, she loves spending time with her grandchildren and hiking in the summer.
Tim Frederick joined MLSA as an IT Support Technician in 2011. He has worked in a computer related field for over thirty years. In his free time, Tim is an avid outdoorsman.
Trevor joined MLSA as a Legal Assistant after previously serving as a Justice for Montanans AmeriCorps member from 2019-2020. He graduated from SUNY Binghamton with a BA in Political Science and Sociology. In his free time, he like hiking and reading.
Yvonne Johnson first joined MLSA as a Justice for Montanans AmeriCorps member in 2016 before joining MLSA permanently as a Program Assistant in 2017. She has a B.A. in Liberal Studies with a Minor in Political Science and B.S. in Criminal Justice Administration. She previously served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco from 2012-2014 and as an AmeriCorps Vista from 2014-2016. In her free time, she likes to cook and bake.