Meet the influencers in our community

Wild Wisdom

Melissa Lafontaine

Melissa is the creator of Earth Within Flowers, where she creatively arranges local and regional flowers for weddings and events, and most recently, she has launched Wild Rising Girls, a feminine wisdom educational program for girls. 

Holding a Master of Science in Environmental Studies with a focus on ‘cultivating earth centered children through plant-based education,’ Melissa has perfectly paired her passion for plants and children. Wild Rising Girls aims to inspire girls to connect with their natural environment and internal cycles through woman-led feminine wisdom and healing arts after-school and weekend programs.

Mind & Body

Wendy Lofthouse

In the wake of birthing a baby that was three months premature and who would have cerebral palsy, Wendy had a new vision for the way she’d live her life. She trained, sculpted, and fed her body so it could perform to its fullest potential, working toward competing in a National Show in 2017 where she was the winner of two classes and became a professional body builder. Her faith encouraged her to fully embrace the able body that she was given and the strength she found within herself translated to her outward appearance.

Wendy is also a third grade teacher at Paxson Elementary, a wife, and a mother to her three boys.

Talk Techy to Me

Asta So

Asta is the Head of People at Submittable, a startup in downtown Missoula that makes it easy for companies to accept and review applications and other digital content online. The platform is used worldwide and hopes, by having its roots in Missoula, that graduates will consider staying local for work.

Though she’s worked at Google, Asta didn’t plan on working for a tech company when she moved here. Like the Submittable founders and many staff, she has a creative background, with a Master in Fine Arts in fiction from UM. Asta loves how diverse Submittable is, recruiting members from tribal communities and encouraging stay-at-home parents to apply.

Fire Within

Jennifer Zaso

Jennifer Zaso found herself enveloped by our Missoula community shortly after the 2016 wildfires. While our city was brushing off the ashes, Jenny was at the foothill of a life that she and her fiancé had planned together until his life was lost on an assignment as part of the Lolo Interagency Hot Shot Crew. 

While her work in Montana began as the Development Director for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, she now is the Development and Outreach Director for the Jeanneatte Rankin Peace Center where she runs their non-profit fair trade store and fundraises for the organization.

Your Best You

Dr. Janice Givler

When she’s not delivering babies and managing the health of women throughout their pregnancies, Doctor Givler enjoys traveling, skiing, tennis, hockey, reading, and being a mom to her two daughters and son.

Doctor Givler studied obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Washington and works at Western Montana Clinic. Her devotion to the women of our community has been her life’s passion.

A Voice for Those Without

Mariah Scheskie

Mariah has worked at the Humane Society of Western Montana since 2004 and is currently the Director of Programs, where she oversees the shelter’s community programs to help pets and people. She is also a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and has developed and operates the behavior program for both shelter and community pets. 

Her labor of love has been studying canine stress in shelters to determine how to help reduce stress nationwide. She has most recently become a Professional Behavior Responder with the ASPCA where she deploys regularly to work with dogs rescued from cruelty and neglect cases.