Leadership

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 Lisa Heimbach

Lisa Heimbach

Director of Finance and AdministrationLisa 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 DevelopmentMichelle 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.

Louis C. Villemez

Deputy Director of AdvocacyLou Villemez graduated from Georgetown University Law Center in 1993 and spent the next 12 years as a Legal Aid attorney, first with Rappahannock Legal Services in Fredericksburg, Virginia and then with Montana Legal Services in Browning and Cut Bank. From 2005 through 2016 Lou worked for Montana’s Area Agencies on Aging where he specialized in Elder Law. He also contracted a diverse caseload with the Office of the Public Defender.

Staff

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.
Angie Wagenals 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.
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.
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.
Bree Williamson Gee is a Rural Crime Victim Attorney in the Helena office. She received a Bachelor’s Degree from Montana State University and later graduated from UM Law. Bree started at MLSA in January 2017 as a staff attorney in Dillon and relocated to Helena in May 2018.
Dee Burnham joined MLSA in 2017 as a Payroll and Accounting Technician. She attended Carroll college and has previously worked for the Department of Labor & Industry and Fish, Wildlife & Parks. She likes to spend her free time outside with her horses and mules, trail riding in the wilderness with her husband or attending horse shows with her daughter. She also enjoys traveling.
Diana Garrett is the Supervising Attorney for 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.
Eleanor Andersen Maloney received her Juris Doctor from the University of Montana School of Law in 2012. Eleanor is an Attorney for MLSA’s Domestic Violence Practice Group based at the Community Support Center in Dillon. Ms. Maloney received her undergraduate degree in Mathematics from Montana Tech. She also completed coursework for a degree in Liberal Studies, and a certificate in Chemical Dependency Counseling. Before coming to MLSA, Eleanor worked as an associate in a small firm, a Public Defender, an Assistant Attorney General, and a Senior Deputy County Attorney.
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 Lewis and Clark Library. She loves spending time outdoors and traveling.
Erica Thomas joined MLSA in July, 2018 as a Program Assistant for MLSA’s Pro Bono and Low Income Taxpayer Clinic 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.
Hannah Cail joined MLSA in 2016 as Project Coordinator for MLSA’s Rural Incubator Project for Lawyers (RIPL). She received her J.D. from the University of Montana Alexander Blewett III School of Law. Before starting at MLSA, Hannah clerked for the Hon. Jim Shea of the Montana Supreme Court. During law school, Hannah received the Margery Hunter Brown Assistantship that led her to prepare a proposal to start a rural legal incubator that would train new attorneys to start solo practices and connect them with clients in need of legal services. Hannah is passionate about innovating for the future of law practice in Montana and teaching others how to effectively use technology.
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.
Hilary Oitzinger joined MLSA as an Intake Specialist in 2018. She received a J.D./M.P.A. from the University of Montana Alexander Blewett III School of Law. Hilary loves art in all forms and playing outdoors.
Justin House joined MLSA as an Intake Specialist in 2019 and after serving as a Justice for Montanans AmeriCorps Member at MLSA from 2017-2018. He previously worked as an executive assistant to a General Law Attorney in North Carolina. Justin loves cats and hopes to attend Law school in the future.
Kallie Dale-Ramos received her J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law in 2015. While at UT, Kallie 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.
Kathryn started at MLSA in December of 2018 as the Pro Bono Program Assistant in Helena. Kathryn received a degree in French and Psychology as well as a minor in Environmental Studies from the University of Wisconsin. In their free time Kathryn enjoys running, biking, reading, and joking around with their friends.
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 Indian 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.
Krista Partridge joined MLSA in 2012 as an Administrative Assistant. She graduated from the University of Montana with a B.A. in Political Science. In her free time, she enjoys traveling and gardening.
Levi Vigneron is a legal assistant with the Montana Health Justice Partnership and the Agricultural Worker Program. He received his Bachelor's from Boston University in 2016 and began working at MLSA in 2018. Levi is a Massachusetts native who loves fresh seafood, Dunkin Donuts and Boston sports. A few years in Montana have instilled in him an immense appreciation for the endless outdoor recreational opportunities and natural beauty that the Treasure State offers.
Lindsey Simon is MLSA’s public benefits attorney and director of the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (“LITC”). As our public benefits attorney, Ms. Simon represents clients in administrative proceedings relating to their Medicaid, Medicare, SNAP, TANF, unemployment benefits, and Social Security benefits. As director of LITC, she oversees the administration of the clinic. Ms. Simon received her J.D. from the University of Idaho in 2008 and her LL.M. from the University of Washington in 2010. Prior to moving to Montana in 2016, Ms. Simon practiced law in Idaho, primarily focusing on real estate and commercial litigation and transactions. In her free time, Ms. Simon enjoys walking and hiking in the Helena area with her two dogs.
Lisa DuFour joined MLSA in December 2018 as a temporary attorney working with domestic violence survivors in the Gallatin County area through a partnership with Haven. Lisa moved to Bozeman from Seattle where she was a partner with Integrative Family Law. Lisa also served as a Pro Tem Commissioner for King County Family Law and Domestic Violence calendars, and she was a frequent CLE instructor. Before entering private practice, Lisa was a Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for 15 years in the King County Family Support Division working on family law cases where she represented the best interests of the children. Lisa enjoys painting and spending time with her grandchildren in Bozeman.
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.
Melissa Alvarez Anderson joined MLSA in 2018. She graduated from Montana State University - Billings and went on to graduate school at Temple University to further her studies in Organizational Communication. Melissa then worked at the non-profit publication YES! Magazine in Seattle for several years before returning to her home state of Montana. In her free time, Melissa loves to cook, read or take her dogs for a hike.
Melissa Magnuson joined MLSA in 2016 as a Victim Legal Assistance Network (VLAN) Navigator, where she helps victims of crime access civil legal aid and other services. She received a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, MN. She loves to spend her free time exploring and visiting historical places throughout Montana.
Monte Cole first joined MLSA as a Justice for Montanans AmeriCorps Member in 2017 before taking on his current position as a Legal Assistant for MLSA’s Indian Law Practice Group in August 2018. He graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a Bachelor's in Environmental Earth Science. He adores cats, love to run Montana's endless trails and dirt roads, and will never turn down ice cream, especially from Big Dipper.
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.
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.
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 it to make sure that callers get high quality services starting with the first phone call.
Yvonne Johnson first joined MLSA as a Justice for Montanans AmeriCorps member in 2016 before joining MLSA permanently as a Program Assistant in MLSA’s Billings Office 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.