About our Advisory Council
The Montana SBDC Advisory Council is comprised of members who have demonstrated an interest in supporting and promoting small businesses and assistance activities. Each member is appointed by the Governor. Members are selected to represent a broad range of backgrounds and skills, including not only those who have experience in small business ownership and operations, but also those who are in leadership positions in statewide economic development, holding positions in government, education and the non-profit sector. The State SBDC Advisory Council Members serve for terms of two years, commencing when the appointments are made.
The Council is created for the purpose of acting in an advisory capacity as provided in
2-15-102 MCA: furnishing advice, gathering information, making recommendations, and performing activities that may be necessary to comply with federal funding requirements and does not mean administration of the program or setting policy. The purpose of the council is to leverage support for the SBDC Network, and to provide advice to the SBDC State Director of matters related to strategic planning, best practices, and solving marketing and funding challenges.
2015-2017 Advisory Council Members:
Kevin Keeler, Board Chair
Small Business Owner, Montana Maid River Blend Coffee Roasters
Kevin has been in the coffee business since 1993 when he created Montana Maid River Blend Coffee Roasters. His company distributes gourmet coffee to locally-owned grocery stores and gift shops. Kevin was recently appointed to the Jefferson County TIFID advisory board. He has chaired the SBDC board since 2014. Kevin’s 24 years in small business has taught him little steps move a business to the next level. It’s these experiences he will bring to the board.
Executive Director of Snowy Mountain Development Corporation
Kathie has served as Executive Director of Snowy Mountain Development Corporation (SMDC), a Certified Regional Development Corporation (CRDC) and Economic Development District (EDD) since its' inception in 2001. She currently serves on the Montana Economic Developer's Association (MEDA), the Montana Community Finance Corporation (MCFC) Board and Loan Review Committee, and is a member of the National Association of Procurement and Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC). Kathie has a bachelor of science in Human Services with concentrations in Organizational Communication and Management from EMC (now MSU-B) Billings and a Masters of Education in Adult, Community and Higher Education from Montana State University. In addition, she is a certified Economic Development Finance Professional.
Dr. John Cech
Deputy Commissioner of Higher Education, Two-Year and Community College Education, Montana University System
Dr. John E. Cech is the Deputy Commissioner for Academic and Student Affairs for the Montana University System. As Deputy Commissioner, he also serves as the State Director for Montana’s Carl D. Perkins Program and as the Project Director for Montana’s College!NOW initiative funded through the Lumina Foundation for Education. John previously served as Dean and campus CEO of the Montana State University Billings College of Technology from 2002-2010. From 1989 through 2002, he was the Dean of Continuing Education and Community Services at Rocky Mountain College. During the last 22 years of John’s career, he has led the development of instructional programs at both RMC and the MSUB COT.
Consultant, Lake County Community Development & C2Business Solutions
Carol Cunningham is a government contracting advisor in Ronan. She joined Montana PTAC in 2009. Carol is also client services manager for the Business Development Center at Lake County Community Development. A small business mentor and advocate, Carol provides technical assistance and counseling to businesses located on the Flathead Reservation and in the surrounding region. She is certified by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as a verification assistance counselor. Carol is a longtime advocate for the Small Business Development Centers across the State of Montana.
Director, Montana Manufacturing Extension Center
Paddy Fleming is currently the Director of MMEC at Montana State University. Paddy has over 25 years of experience in leading, managing and improving manufacturing businesses. In his early career he worked for several companies in the paper and machinery manufacturing industries including International Paper, Tenneco, and BW Paper Systems. He has been associated with MMEC for the past 14 years where he has consulted with hundreds of manufacturers throughout Montana as well as the US Department of Defense. He holds a BSME from Montana State University and an MBA from Olivet Nazarene University.
President, Montana Community Development Corporation
As the President of Montana CDC, Dave oversees all aspects of the organization and works in conjunction with the board of directors to help develop long-term strategy. Montana CDC provides financing and consulting for nearly bankable businesses across Montana and Idaho and hosts two SBDC positions.
Executive Director, Montana Community Finance Corporation
Linda Kindrick is Executive Director of Montana Community Finance Corporation. She previously worked for the U.S. Small Business Administration for over 21 years, taking an early retirement in 2005 from the government. Under her leadership, the loan portfolio has grown from just under $30 million to just under $47 million. Linda brings to the advisory board three perspectives – previous employment with the SBA as a commercial loan officer, a current host through an inkind contribution to the Helena Regional SBDC director and as a lender. She has also served on and continues to serve on numerous boards and understands the importance of collaboration.
Representative Rae Peppers
Rae Peppers is a farmer and rancher from Lame Deer, Montana. She is the Montana State Representative from House District 41 located in Big Horn and Rosebud Counties. She is a graduate of MSU-Billings, with a B.S . in Business Administration and a Masters in Information Systems and Communication. She has worked extensively in the Economic Development field working with small businesses and startups for over 10 years, was a business and computer instructor at Chief Dull Knife College for 10 years and advised business students. Rae and her husband ran a successful construction company for over 16 years on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, completing contracts for local, tribal, state and Federal Contracts. She continues to share her knowledge with other aspiring entrepreneurs. She currently is the General Manager for Northern Cheyenne Utilities Commission.
Executive Director of Southeastern Montana Development Corporation