“To create a better future for those impacted by brain injury through awareness, support, advocacy, community engagement, and prevention.”
“A world where all preventable brain injuries are prevented, all unpreventable brain injuries are minimized, and all individuals who have experienced brain injury maximize their quality of life.”
History of BIAMT
There were three known support groups meeting around the state on an irregular basis. A core group of eight individuals dedicated themselves to forming a state organization for the benefit of brain injury survivors and their families throughout Montana. Angela and Jim Spall and Maria Nyberg of Helena, Ty and Scotty MacLeod of Billings, Joyce Steele of Great Falls, Jim Malloy of Bozeman, and Heather Joern of Kalispell. The group of individuals met in Helena in 1985, worked diligently, and dedicated the time, money, and love needed to start a statewide organization.
The Montana Head Injury Foundation was officially formed with an eight-member Board of Directors. It also quickly became a chartered and affiliated organization of the National Head Injury Foundation. After this occurred, the organization evolved rapidly.
The organization’s first educational conference was held in Billings, Montana. The conference brought together members of the brain injury community to network, provide peer-to-peer support, and share knowledge.
The growth of the organization led the office to move from Ty and Scotty MacLeod’s garage to an office at Eastern Montana College where it was staffed by volunteers and a graduate assistant. The toll-free number was established.
The office was moved to Missoula and resided on the University of Montana campus. The organization continued to develop and expand under the guidance of the board of directors.
The organization participated in an implementation grant of the Resource Facilitation Service, now called the Brain Injury Help Line. Initially engaging five hospitals in the referral process, we were able to connect with patients early in their recovery.
Further development resulted in the organization joining the United States Brain Injury Alliance as a member affiliate.
The Brain Injury Alliance of Montana worked closely with Senator Anders Blewett and the Governor’s Advisory Council on Traumatic Brain Injury to bring the Dylan Steigers Protection of Youth Athletes Act to the 63rd Session of the Montana Legislature. Many parents, coaches, physicians, and athletes shared their message, and in April 2013, Governor Bullock signed the bill into law.
Meet Our Members
Brain Injury Alliance of Montana Staff
John Bigart III
John joined BIAMT in November 2016. John has a strong and diverse professional background. He has served on a number of boards for local nonprofits, is an elected mayor, and is an entrepreneur in the corporate world. John’s experience and passion support BIAMT’s mission in areas of fund development, engagement with community leaders, and participation in policy and legislative matters. Born and raised in Montana, John spends as much time as possible with his family in the beautiful outdoors.
Sarah joined BIAMT in January 2021. She graduated from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA with degrees in International Affairs and Strategic Communications. While in school, she discovered her love of working with advocacy-driven community organizations while creating marketing materials for local Tacoma non-profits. After graduating college, she returned to Montana to be closer to her family and the mountains. Born and raised in Bigfork, MT, Sarah loves to ski, climb, travel and backpack.
Ty joined BIAMT in September 2022. She graduated from Eastern Washington University with a BA in Psychology and is currently furthering her education towards mental health counseling and social work. Early on in her education she realized how important it is to work with a community to help others. Outside of BIAMT and education, Ty enjoys the outdoors with her dogs and horses usually with a long trail ride, hike, or on the river and in the sunshine! Raised in Washington State, Ty returned to Montana to be close to her family and take on new adventures!
Brain Injury Alliance of Montana Board of Directors
Dana Henkel, Esq.
Board Vice President
Healthcare Professional — Joined 2020
Neuroscience Operations Sr. Manager
TBI Survivor — Joined 2020
Exercise Science with focus in neurology and cardiology.
Family Member of Survivor — Joined 2020
Cabinet Designer, Direct Source MT
M.S., CCC-SLP — Joined 2023
Ben Olson, DC
Healthcare Professional- Joined 2020
Mother of TBI Survivor — Joined 2020
Pre School owner, advocate
Michael Crews, CCC-SLP.
Healthcare Professional —
Speech Language Pathologist
TBI Survivor – Joined 2021
Family Member of Survivor – Joined 2021
April Ildvad, MA
TBI Survivor – Joined 2021
Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor
Former college football player, concussion awareness advocate, marketing professional