"To strengthen the capacities of local governmental units
and provide training, technical assistance, and research
services to elected, appointed, and administrative officials."


Culbertson Hall MSU Bozeman

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). 



   We work to support Montana's cities, towns, and counties by partnering 
   with local government practitioners and their professional associations.



Dan Clark, Director of the Montana State University Local Government Center

Dan Clark


Email:  daniel.clark@montana.edu

Phone:  406.994.7756

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 Bachelors and Masters Degree from the University of Arizona in Agricultural Education and taught high school agriculture for three years before joining Extension.  


Blake Christensen

Associate Director

Email:  blakechristensen@montana.edu

Phone:  406.994.6680

As associate director of the Local Government Center, Blake provides training, facilitation, and technical assistance to local governments and organizations across the state of Montana. His current projects include community leadership development, board training, and strategic planning. Previous to his current position, Blake served as associate general legal counsel for an international maritime company, where he counseled 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.


Paul Lachapelle

Associate Professor

Community Development Specialist

Email:  paul.lachapelle@montana.edu

Phone:  406.994.3620

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

Associate Specialist

Email:  tara.mastel@montana.edu 

Phone:  406.490.4180

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 Kent

Program Coordinator

Email:  ashleykent@montana.edu

Phone:  406.994.6694

Ashley joined the Local Government Center in July 2014. She earned her Bachelors degree in Business Management from MSU in 2012, and is currently working on her Masters in Business Administration through the University of Montana. Prior to the Local Government Center, Ashley worked in other departments at MSU including Human Resources and Institutional Equity. 

Emilie Drishinski

Emilie Drishinski

Program Assistant

Email:  emilie.drishinski@montana.edu 

Phone:  406.994.6694

Emilie joined the Local Government Center in October 2016. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Law and Constitutional Studies from Utah State University in May 2016. Emilie most recently started working towards her Master’s degree in Business Administration through the University of Montana. Prior to working at MSU Emilie worked in testing services at Utah State University.