The MSU Local Government Center is located in Culbertson Hall on the beautiful Montana State University campus in Bozeman, MT.
The origins of the Local Government Center lie in Montana's unique process of periodic citizen review of the state's municipal and county governments. Montana's constitution gives citizens of local jurisdictions the option to elect a study commission every 10 years to review the structure of their county or municipal government. In 1985, the Local Government Center was established at Montana State University to provide assistance to counties and municipalities and their study commissions.
The Montana Board of Regents officially authorized the Local Government Center in 1989 (Item 62-204-RO389, June 21, 1989). As the Center grew, it broadened its efforts to assist Montana's local governments. In 1993, the Montana State Legislature formally established the mission of the Center to "strengthen the capacities of Montana's local governmental units to deliver essential services efficiently and to provide training, technical assistance, and research to local officials" (MCA 20-25-237).
Dan Clark joined the Local Government Center in April 2008. He has been serving Montana since 1997. Prior to joining the MSU Local Government Center, he served as the Statewide Director for the Montana Horizons program from 2006 to 2008. Previously, Dan worked as a Montana State University Extension faculty member in Teton County from 1997 to 2006. During this time, he served as Mayor of Choteau, Montana for four years. He earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Arizona in Agricultural Education and taught high school agriculture for three years before joining Extension.
Blake joined the Local Government Center in July 2015. As Associate Director, he provides training, facilitation, and technical assistance to local governments and organizations across the State of Montana. His current projects include an emphasis on leadership development, organizational strategic planning, good governance, conflict management, and public board training. Prior to joining Montana State University, Blake served as associate general counsel for a large international company, where he provided counsel to executive leadership on legal liability and business transactions. He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from Brigham Young University and juris doctor degree from William & Mary Law School.
Community Development Specialist
Paul is the Montana State University Extension Community Development Specialist. His general responsibilities involve providing research, technical assistance and trainings and workshops on various community development topics to strengthen the social, economic and environmental well-being of communities across the state. Specifically, he works toward providing resources and programs in many areas including community strategic visioning, local governance, leadership development training, community tourism assessment and development, economic and business development, business retention and expansion projects, community profiling, conflict management and resolution, economic impact assessments, planning facilitation, and community surveys.
Tara Mastel joined the Local Government Center in October 2015 after serving nearly ten years as a Community and Economic Development Extension Agent in Jefferson County Montana. As a County Agent, Tara assisted with the Horizon’s program in a half-dozen Montana communities, renovated a historic main street building, worked with community members to start farmer’s markets and a community foundation as well as many other projects. Tara is a certified Real Colors facilitator and serves on the Governor’s Agriculture Development Council. Tara earned her bachelor’s degree at the College of St. Catherine and a masters in Urban and Regional Planning from the Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota. Prior to joining Extension, Tara worked in research and strategy development at a national marketing firm.
Ashley joined the Local Government Center (LGC) in July 2014. She currently manages the education programs that the LGC provides to local government officials and is developing new educational tools to enhance the LGC training offerings. Ashley earned her bachelor's degree in Business Management from Montana State University in 2012 and her Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Montana in 2017. Prior to the Local Government Center, Ashley worked in other departments at MSU including Human Resources and Institutional Equity.