25 Under 25 Award Ceremony
Nominations for 2020 25 Under 25 Awardees are now closed.
Each year Forward Montana Foundation highlights 25 Montanans under the age of 25 that are shaping Montana through their work, their vision, and their perseverance in honor of Pat & Carol Williams.
We invite you to nominate a young Montanan in your life that you feel is deserving of this honor.
All nominees must reside in Montana and be 25 years old or younger on September 21st, 2020.
Nominations will be open until May 15th. Those nominated will be invited to apply to be one of Montana’s 25 Under 25 and a group of independent Montanans from across the state will choose the 25 Under 25.
All winners must be nominated and submit an application to be considered. We also invite young Montanans to self-nominate. Nominations for 2020 25 Under 25 Awardees are now closed.
Winners will be selected based on the following criteria:
—> Belief in Montana: They love Montana, but they also understand that it will take all of our collective talents to make it an even better place. They are constantly trying to make themselves better. They are diligent about sharing their passions and building power with their friends and neighbors.
—> Caring a lot: Whether it’s about one issue or a thousand issues, they care a lot. They are dedicated to making their community a better place and are proud of the impact they’ve made on their community.
—> FMT attitude: Though they don’t take themselves too seriously, they understand that change takes hard work. When it comes to the issues they stand for they won’t take no for an answer. They work hard to find creative solutions and aren’t afraid to make mistakes.
Join us September 29th, 2020 to celebrate our 25 Under 25 Awardees!
Maggie Bornstein has proven herself a committed advocate for social, economic, and political justice in the treasure state. She is inspired by her mother, Michelle Kerrigan, her late sister, Annie DeFranco, and nieces Zoey and Olivia DeFranco-Kerrigan. Since moving to Missoula in fall of 2017, Maggie has collaborated with groups including Mom’s Demand Action, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Motana, the Montana Budget and Policy Center, and Big Sky 55+ to address inequity in her community.
This spring, she will graduate with majors in African-American Studies, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and Sociology and a certificate in Global Migration Studies. After working with Forward Montana during the 2018 cycle, she began her work with UM’s Women’s Resource Center, and began her directorship in the fall of 2019. Presently, Maggie serves as an intern with the Montana Human Rights Network, an ASUM senator, and a facilitator with the YWCA GUTS! program.
Katlyn is a first generation college student attending MSU Billings (MSUB). She will graduate Spring of 2020 with a Bachelors in Human Services. She grew up a majority of her life in beautiful Livingston, Montana. Ever since she was young, her goal in life was to help youth that grew up in troubled homes. She has been an amazing attribute to the MSUB community, spreading mental health awareness and guiding students as a peer mentor. After college, she plans on attending MSUB for her Masters with a focus on mental health.
Kenzie Lombardi is a public affairs and political consultant based in Billings, Montana. Born in Helena and raised in Missoula, Kenzie earned degrees in Political Science and Communication at the University of Montana. During her time at UM, Kenzie served as the Legislative Director for the Associated Students of the University of Montana, one of the largest student governments in the nation. She also worked on the 2016 re-election campaign of Governor Steve Bullock, the lone statewide Democratic victory in Montana. In 2017, Kenzie was the Communications and Field Director for the winning campaign of Missoula Mayor John Engen. As a political consultant, Kenzie works on issues of all shapes and sizes across the country. In her free time, Kenzie enjoys reading murder mysteries, cuddling her cat Stella, and floating any and all Montana rivers.
Keldon Joyner is a creative, motivated individual who started live performance arts in Drag in 2017. He has been using this platform to fight for opportunity, community, and equality in Montana. Keldon strives to help bring Montana’s communities closer together by encouraging individuals to work together and support each other in times of need. He is currently working to bring recognition and acceptance to the nonbinary community through social activism and lifestyle adaptations.
For the past two and a half years, Keldon has taken large steps towards these goals with the support of the ISCSM – a Montana based non-profit. With Keldon’s help, the ISCSM raises close to fifty thousand dollars a year and has the pleasure of giving out multiple scholarships and donating tens of thousands to other charitable organizations across Montana. Keldon believes it is imperative to support our communities; in return, he knows they will begin to prosper and work together.
Zara Morris, a 17 year old Montana native who currently resides in Missoula, is feeling very jubilant to be a 25 Under 25 awardee. During her time in high school she has recognized her fondness and passion for civic engagement, community organizing and politics. This past spring she completed the Forward Montana Internship where she fostered connections with folks in her community and learned about many challenges and problems that many Montanans face.
Zara helped plan and attended many recent protests and co-founded the Hellgate High School Democrats. She also spent a lot of time helping fellow high school students become registered to vote and request absentee ballots during the June primary election. Zara plans to attend college next year and hopes to ultimately have a career where she can create tangible change and make the world a better place for generations to come.
Augusta Powell-Rushing is an 8th grader at Sacajawea Middle School. She is passionate about gender equality for kids. With her two best friends, she worked to improve access to period products at her school. She aims to have free period products at schools around Montana and in public places in the next few years. She wants to continue fighting for change and making public places feel safe and inclusive. She does not know what the future holds, but she will continue to stand up for justice.
Mia Pearcy is a rising 8th grader in Sacajawea Middle School in Bozeman, Montana. During her 7th grade year, Mia and her two friends Lily and Augusta, noticed a lack of menstrual products in the bathrooms all around school. The machines were old, rusty, and not stocked. These three friends realized that access to menstrual products was not a privilege, but a basic human need. They approached the school principal several times about the issue but he struggled to create time in his schedule to meet with them. Feeling a lack of attention to the matter, the ladies knew they needed to do something bolder.
They created a tampon cookie as a protest and distributed them in the lunchroom. While some of the faculty and staff at the school were upset about the cookie, they ultimately got the attention needed to create real change. Menstrual products are now available for free in schools in Bozeman. In the future, their goal is to work towards supplying free menstrual supplies in every public school restroom in Montana.
Jaiven is currently a high school sophomore at Senior High School in Billings. With his Internship and Fellowship work with Forward Montana, volunteer work Planned Parenthood of Montana and Montana Youth Action, he hopes to help make the beautiful state of Montana a safe place for everyone of all communities by engaging young folks around the state in the democratic process, phone banking people about prominent issues, and registering people to vote. During his free time, Jaiven enjoys reading, hanging out with friends, hanging out with his dogs, and loves fashion.
Secumaki (Jaya King) is a member of the Amskapi Pikuni (Blackfeet) tribe. In high school Jaya advocated for BIPOC students by pushing for mandatory anti-racism training in the Bozeman School District. Currently, Jaya is on a gap year where she spends time volunteering as a Child Advancement Program mentor, teaching students about Native culture through activities, and has spoken on Indian Education For All panels to advocate for Native students. Jaya’s also a former volunteer for Bozeman United for Racial Justice, where she helped organize protests after the tragic murder of George Floyd.
Currently, Jaya interns at The Montana Racial Equity Project where she works as an education policy assistant and fights for equitable representation of BIPOC Montanans. In January of 2021, she will attend Brandeis University to study storytelling and social justice. Jaya plans to continue the fight for racial equity through change in whatever community she is in.
Mariah Thomas is a Presidential Leadership Scholar at the University of Montana studying journalism and political science. As a junior in high school, Mariah co-founded the nonprofit Helena Youth Against Gun Violence following the Parkland school shooting, and was a lead organizer in walkouts, the Helena March For Our Lives, and a candidate forum before the 2018 primary. Through the summer and fall of 2018, Mariah put in 250+ hours working as a fellow on Senator Jon Tester’s successful campaign for re-election. Mariah served as the Helena Public School Board’s student representative for Capital High School in 2018-2019. She graduated as a Capital High valedictorian in 2019. As a current sophomore at the University of Montana, Mariah is active in the Davidson Honors College. She currently works as a sports reporter on the Montana Kaimin and as an International Research Intern with the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center.
Bio coming soon!
Entering her eighth grade year at Sacajawea Middle School, Lily Madison will continue to be a voice for her classmates as she joins her friends to expand access to menstrual supplies, with the goal of stocking all middle school and high school bathrooms in Bozeman.
She and her friends are considering another outreach at other schools, if so they hope to match their “Tampon Cookie Campaign,” which went viral across the globe, earning media attention from CNN, The Washington Post and The Times of India. It is their vision that no one comes to school unprepared to manage their period and no one misses a day of learning. Lily is also looking forward to another season dancing with the Bozeman Dance Center and skiing at Bridger Bowl.
Elsie Harrington, a high school senior, loved watching the legislative sessions as a kid with her dad. She rediscovered that interest in politics her sophomore year of high school, as a High School Fellow for Forward Montana Foundation. She then became chair of Montana Youth Action and helped develop its growth from four people sitting around a coffee shop table to over 100 members in six chapters statewide a year later.
With her help, the organization became one that promotes political understanding, advocates for progress, and provides opportunities for civic engagement among young Montanans. She spoke at the 2020 Montana Women’s March about the importance of youth civic engagement and is passionate about increasing it. She wants to encourage more young people to vote, now or when they become old enough, and thus help create a political situation that is more representative of its younger citizens.
Faith is a first-generation college graduate who earned her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Carroll College in December of 2019. As a student at Helena High School, Faith founded the Treasure State’s first Mock Trial program, which gives students from all over Montana a hands-on opportunity to examine the legal process, engage with attorneys and the judicial branch of government and develop important critical thinking, presentation, public speaking, and teamwork skills.
Throughout college, Faith worked tirelessly to elect candidates who reflect core democratic values. She also interned at the State Legislature and for Senator Jon Tester. Following college, Faith pursued an opportunity with Montana’s largest union, the Montana Federation of Public Employees. Believing that making a tangible difference in the lives of others begins in her local community, Faith continues to dedicate herself to preserving and improving the quality of life for all Montanans.
Gillian’s work out of Missoula has largely revolved around informing and educating young Montanans. She has helped organize various community events for local organizations as well as individually. Additionally, through her media program, Amplify Montana Youth (AMTY), Gillian has created an accessible platform for young Montanans to stay informed in 2020.
From candidate interviews to an issue based podcast series, AMTY has become a platform for young voters to easily access information. She hopes to continue to do so, with her end goal being to inspire a new generation of informed, active, and involved voters and activists in Montana. Gillian wants to create a political and social activism environment in Montana that is widely accessible, one that provides the information necessary to easily participate in said activism.
Bio coming soon!
In highschool, Amelia was involved in an array of noncollegiate activities including participating as vice president of her school’s inter-sectional feminist club and teaching sex Ed and healthy relationships through BridgerCare and Haven’s Peer Ed program. Peer Ed was an especially enriching experience for Amelia as she gained insight on various topics that usually remain unspoken and learned the important tools for being a productive advocate for her peers and community members. Through this, Amelia procured a passion for educating and she hopes to continue educating her peers on topics relating to sexual health and healthy relationships in college.
Amelia Brown was admitted to Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, however, she is currently taking a year off from school to study Japanese and ceramics. Although this year off was unexpected, she is excited to pursue her interest in ceramics and improve her language skills.
Martia Growning Thunder
Bio coming soon!
Juniper was the first openly trans woman to compete on a women’s team in any NCAA Division 1 sport. A five-time Montana state champion in track and field and cross country in high school, she joined The University of Montana track and field and cross country programs in 2015. She also served as one of the co-directors for the UM Women’s Resource Center during the
2019-20 school year.
Since completing her collegiate athletic career during the spring of 2020, Juniper looks toward pursuing a masters degree in environmental philosophy at the University of Montana. She is especially interested in examining and bringing to light the intersections of gendered violence and environmental degradation. Her future goals include exploring the world via trail running, raising awareness surrounding the issues of climate change, and participating in discussions that foster the inclusion of all people in the outdoors and sports.
Siesa Shuman is a recent transplant to Montana from North Carolina. Her parents Tameca and Kenneth, both veterans of the United States Army, taught her the value of serving her community. She moved to Montana to serve as an Americorps VISTA for one year at Dress for Success Billings but the local activism and landscape convinced her to stay on a little longer. Siesa, along with her fellow VISTA’s Jackie P. and Jana R. with the help of Charlie S. have created a community action group meant to engage the community in civic engagement and education.
Siesa has found many role models and supporters in this city, Shane the owner of Kirk’s Grocery an art venue, Anna Paige from the Billings Gazette, Curtis and Melanie, and Brianna from Dress for Success Billings. Their continued support and guidance is the empowerment she needs to continue her activism and community service
As a Montanan, Harry learned early the value of treating everyone like your neighbor and doing right by those around you. After graduating from Gonzaga University in the Spring of 2019, he joined Steve Bullock’s presidential campaign in Iowa as a Field Organizer where he learned the importance of meeting people where they are. Subsequently, he joined Whitney Williams’ gubernatorial campaign in Montana as a Special Assistant and was later promoted to the campaign’s Press and Outreach Coordinator where he handled media relations and external communications among other things.
He is currently working for the consulting firm williamsworks and is focused on tackling issues in Montana and around the nation. Harry cares deeply about preserving the world that we’ve inherited and making sure that everyone has the same opportunity to enjoy it. In his eyes, there is no problem too big to solve, nor any solution too hard to find.
Jerico is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe, and grew up in Rapid City, South Dakota. He left the Black Hills to study at Montana State where he graduated this May with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and a Native American Studies minor. Throughout his time at MSU, Jerico served as a Sustained Dialogue Program Coordinator, a Queer Straight Alliance VP, and the ASMSU Student Director of Diversity and Inclusion.
Jerico is passionate about bringing folks together across lines of difference and identity striations — through dialogue — to make change in the realm of equity, justice, and inclusion. Currently, he’s most excited about his new role as the AmeriCorps VISTA placement for The Montana Racial Equity Project, and a volunteer with Bozeman United for Racial Justice. In his freetime, Jerico enjoys listening to the 1975, getting outside, and connecting with friends and family close by, or far away.
Having the opportunity to experience different cultures, due to her dad being in the military, is what drives Cedrianna to strive for an all-inclusive and diverse community. Cedrianna currently is in the paramedic program at Great Falls MSU. Once she is finished with that degree, she plans to pursue her goal of becoming a physician’s assistant.
Helping people and educating about the black community has always been a passion of hers. Cedrianna has organized protests after the tragic death of George Floyd shook the country. She has made progress in her community by having the police department make their data more accessible to the public. She plans for future demonstrations in the city of Great Falls to help educate more people on ethnic communities. On top of doing all this she is a spouse to an Airmen of three years and new mom to a five-month-old baby boy. Although her days are full, she is a young activist in the making and does not plan on stopping anytime soon until we are all Above the Hate.
Bio coming soon!
Katherine lives in Bozeman and is currently a junior in high school. During the 2019-2020 school year, she and three other students went to the district to protest policies discriminating against the LGBTQ community within her school, pushing for a welcoming environment within Bozeman High School, and sparking conversation in their community about the importance of inclusivity.
Last spring Katherine participated in an internship with Forward Montana, and is currently interning for the Kathleen Williams campaign. She also is vice president of BHS’s Rotary Interact Club, is a member of her school’s soccer and debate team, and virtually competed in the 2020 National Speech and Debate tournament. After high school she hopes to study political science and eventually pursue a career working on campaigns or in international relations. Katherine wants to help drive Montana towards an accepting and open minded future that promotes sustainability and strengthens our state.
Last fall, Maggie Callow and three other students spoke out against a club with policies that discriminated against LGBTQ students at Bozeman High School. She generated awareness and conversations throughout Bozeman that had a meaningful impact on the community’s understanding of inclusivity and civil rights. The district has now affirmed their non-discrimination policy and redefined their club guidelines.
Maggie is currently taking a gap year, and she spends her time working on internships for Kathleen Williams and Forward Montana, as well as volunteering with Planned Parenthood. Next year, she plans to attend Pomona College in California with a goal of engaging in an interdisciplinary educational path that combines political science, gender studies, and sociology. In the future, Maggie hopes to work on reducing the racial and gender pay gap as well as advocating for more laws protecting minority groups and equality in Montana.
Esmie Hurd is a senior at Bozeman High School. Last fall, she and three other students spoke out against a club at Bozeman High with discriminatory policies towards LGBTQ+ students. They generated conversations in the community and increased awareness surrounding school inclusivity. The school district has since affirmed their non-discrimination ordinance and updated their club protocol.
Esmie has completed an internship with Forward Montana, and is now a social media intern with the Alice Buckley campaign. She is working with the Montana Racial Equity Project to rewrite school curriculum and volunteering with Bozeman United for Racial Justice. She participates in varsity soccer at Bozeman High and captains the speech and debate team, twice competing in the national debate tournament. Esmie hopes to go into political science and journalism, pursuing a career in policy making. She wants to build a Montana where young people feel politically passionate and well informed.