Michael Schechtman – Executive Director

In January of 2001, Mike became the Big Sky Institute’s full–time executive director. Prior to accepting this position, Mike was the president and owner of Eaglecliff Associates, a Helena–based consulting firm specializing in organizational development and fundraising for nonprofit organizations. Mike has over 48 years of professional experience in nonprofit program development, administration and fundraising, including 37 years as a consultant to nonprofits in the Northern Rockies. Mike was BSI’s lead staff member for creating the Montana Nonprofit Association (MNA), and he staffed MNA for three years while BSI incubated its development. He was also BSI’s lead staff for creating the Park County Community Foundation (PCCF), and staffed PCCF for several years while BSI incubated PCCF’s development. Mike has led numerous cutting-edge initiatives at BSI, such as the Montana Nonprofit Connections capacity-building grants program, the Philanthropic Divide initiative, the incubation of the Indian Nonprofit Alliance, and the Missoula Project for Nonprofit Excellence. Mike has a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Chicago and an M.S. in Natural Resources from the University of Michigan.

Norane Freistadt – Associate Director for Capacity Building

Norane has a life-long dedication to the power of nonprofits and community action to make positive social change. From being an involved downtown Helena business owner for 20 years, to extensive involvement in community efforts to pro-actively plan for growth in the Prickly Pear Valley, to serving on the original Open Space Bond Issue Committee and helping create Prickly Pear Land Trust in Helena, she has found great satisfaction in putting her talents toward livability issues in this community. Norane brings a 20 year professional career in philanthropic development and management proficiency to BSI, having served as development director for three nonprofits– Helena’s local land trust, Prickly Pear Land Trust, and two statewide conservation organizations, Montana Wilderness Association, and Montana Audubon. While at Montana Audubon Norane also held leadership positions in finance and administration and is well-versed in budgeting and operating systems such as database development/donor management software that are foundational building blocks for efficient and successful fundraising. Norane has a B.S. in Anthropology from Washington State University.

Tessa Hurley – Program Associate for Training and Resources Development
AmeriCorps VISTA

Tessa graduated Boise State University in December 2020 with a B.A. in Spanish, Global Studies, and Nonprofit Management. Her engagement with nonprofits has included an internship with the Idaho Chapter of the Sierra Club and helping organize community fundraisers for nonprofits. She has also worked with the Undocumented Migration Project to bring the participatory art exhibit, Hostile Terrain 94, to Boise State in the fall of 2020. With other students in her program, she participated in community service projects in Corozal, Belize, which included teaching healthy lifestyles courses for students of all ages, constructing a wall around their play area, and building a bathroom. While attending college in Boise, Tessa volunteered with several organizations, including the Idaho Food Bank and the Ronald McDonald House. She has been involved with Rotary International and was a Rotary Exchange Student to Spain in 2015/2016. She maintains involvement with Rotary International through Rotex and Rotaract, helping plan and conduct activities for exchange students coming to Boise.

Naomi Schwartz – Book Keeper

Bio coming soon!