Montana Public Health Institute Appoints First CEO

Submitted by
Montana Public Health Institute


The Montana Public Health Institute (MTPHI) has announced the hiring of its first Chief Executive Officer, Matt Kelley, MPH.  Kelley will lead MTPHI’s efforts to strengthen Montana’s public health system capacity.  Kelley was selected following a comprehensive national recruitment effort led by the MTPHI Board of Directors.  His appointment will become effective July 12, 2021.

“We are thrilled with the selection of Matt Kelley for the Montana Public Health CEO.  He is a proven leader in public health and brings with him the commitment and depth of experience the position requires,” said Sue Hansenof the MTPHI Board of Directors.

Kelley, a Wisconsin native, brings over two decades of experience working in public health, public policy, and communications, including more than 11 years as the Health Officer in Gallatin County, MT.  He will use those experiences at MTPHI to work to strengthen and support public health systems throughout Montana.

“This new role allows me to continue working throughout Montana to improve the health and quality of life for all Montanans,” Kelley said.  “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to build a new organization to serve the state that I love.”

Kelley holds an undergraduate degree from Drake University in journalism and a master’s in public health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.  Mr. Kelley’s extensive background includes: working on Capitol Hill as a newspaper reporter; service as a Peace Corps volunteer in West Africa where he worked on health and clean water projects; and work on health and mental health policy and programming within the Executive Office of the Mayor of Washington DC.  For the past 11 years, Kelley has served as Health Officer in Gallatin County, where he guided GCHHD to assemble and grow a highly qualified staff and develop financial resources and community partnerships necessary to confront public health challenges, such as COVID-19.

“Joining MTPHI is a unique and exciting opportunity for me to serve public health in a new capacity,” said Kelley.  “My commitment to the public health system in Montana is stronger than ever and I look forward to building an organization that improves the health and quality of life for Montanans by working to connect, strengthen and amplify the public health system.”

The Montana Public Health Institute (MTPHI) was incorporated as a Montana non-profit in April 2020. The decision to create the Montana Public Health Institute was informed by a feasibility study and design process that involved partners from multiple sectors over nearly two years. The feasibility study identified opportunities to improve the public health system, as well as services not currently provided by other organizations in Montana that could be provided by an institute. Based on extensive research and analysis, the study concluded that a public health institute could fill a critical need in building partnerships to address health-related needs in Montana and strengthen Montana’s largely rural public health system.

“We envision healthy Montana Communities supported by a cohesive, responsive and informed Public Health System.”

For more information about MTPHI, visit mtphi.org.

Miller graduates from State Police Academy…

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So, when the opportunity arose for the department to expand its team and hire a fourth officer this past summer, it came not as a surprise to many that Miller applied for the position.

On June 3 of this past year, the U.S. Department of Justice had identified where $2.3 million in grant awards would be distributed across Montana as part of the U.S. Justice Department, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services’ $400 million in grant funding for the nationwide COPS Hiring Program.

“The Department of Justice is committed to providing the police chiefs and sheriffs of our great nation with needed resources, tools, and support,” said Attorney General William P. Barr in the June 2020 press release. “[This funding] will bolster their ranks and contribute to expanding community policing efforts nationwide. A law enforcement agency’s most valuable assets are the men and women who put their lives on the line every day in the name of protecting and serving their communities.”

It was announced at that time that the Troy Police Department would be awarded $189,779 as part of the COPS program. “These funds have been critical in making several positive changes within our department,” shared Chief Davis. “It has afforded us the opportunity to hire Michael as a fourth full-time officer and send him to law enforcement training, which in turn has opened the door to bump our School Resource Officer up to 20 hours of direct service to our youth and has allowed our officers to now work a 4-10 work schedule overall.”

“The grant also will cover Michael’s position for the next four years, at which point there will be a possibility for reapplication,” Davis added. At the time of application, CHP applicants are required to identify a specific crime and disorder problem focus and then explain how potential funding will be used to implement community policing approaches. Of this year past year’s recipients across Montana, 43% had reported focus on violent crime issues, while the remainder were focused on a variety of issues including supporting school-based resource officers.

“We are a tight-knit band of community servants,” said Miller during a conversation on Sunday afternoon. “I am grateful for this opportunity, to be back home from this initial training where I can spend time with my wife and my two-year-old, and to serve my community again.” Miller and his wife are expecting to expand their family by one infant member at the end of April.


“I know it’s the cliché thing to say,” he added. “But I truly do find it the most rewarding just to help people and give back to my community.” Miller can consistently be found championing the community he loves through several acts of service both on and off duty – most recently as a coach to the Troy Trojan Football Team.

Chief Davis affirmed the sincerity behind Miller’s words and actions is pure, “He truly does have a servant’s heart. He is just a good, wholesome young man. And with his love for law enforcement, his background in communications and detention and his drive to engage in community outreach…  I am just grateful that he chose to work through the official application process this past summer and has now committed himself to completing training to work with his hometown police department. I can confidently say that all within our department and across the community, there are many thrilled to see Michael succeed and further his career here in Troy.”

Miller will go on to seek his Montana post certificate in September of this year.  To acquire a post certificate, officers must have been in good standing with an agency for over a year and must completed the training academy within that same timeframe.


by Stacy Bender

In memory of Lucy Willis… 

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Samantha Willis, RN at CPMC in Libby, and her husband, John,  delivered five cases of Comfort Cub weighted bears to the local medical center on March 31, 2021, what would have been their daughter, Lucy’s, 2nd birthday. (Courtesy Photo)


“March is not only the month that the most radiant little soul was born, but it’s also SUDC (Sudden Unexplained Death in Children) Awareness Month. I used to be one of those people who thought, ‘gosh, there is an awareness month for everything these days,’ but now that I’m actually affected by something, I am so thankful that it exists,” shared Samantha.

“When Lucy’s death was ‘undetermined’ I felt like we didn’t belong anywhere. We don’t belong with the SIDS families, we don’t belong with the cancer families, we just plain don’t belong. We’re just hanging out in limbo with our kid who has no reason to be dead,” she continued. “Learning about SUDC gave us a place to belong. It gave us a community of broken families who understand what it’s like to have no answers. And since it’s something that we have to live with, I am so happy that SUDC Awareness Month coincides with Lucy’s birth month, and that’s why I will now always love the month of March.”

If you would like to help raise awareness and support for the Willis’ and families of SUDC, you may purchase a t-shirt at bonfire.com/store/lucy-sunshine/.

To learn more about SUDC, please visit www.sudc.org . More information on The Comfort Cub can be found at www.thecomfortcub.org.


Submitted by CPMC