Executive Committee

Meet the folks who are passionate about protecting democratic values locally.

Questions? Feel free to contact any of the Committee members - we'd love to hear from you.

  • Linda Schmitt

    Linda Schmitt

    Chair

    Linda is a powerhouse!

    She’s led phenomenally successful outreaches to meet folks where they’re at, such as the Coffee Tuesdays, Beer and Burger Thursdays, as well as the very daring Building Community in Difficult Times talk. With these bold new ideas, people once again have hope that Democratic values can improve their lives.

    We’re very lucky and grateful to have Linda at the helm.

    Find out more about Linda by clicking on her photo, or leave her a note.

  • Rob Tossberg

    Rob Tossberg

    Vice-Chair

    Rob’s calm and friendly demeanor, coupled with his experience as a successful business owner, make him an invaluable resource for our strategic goals and planning.

    Have you seen the sandwich boards that are springing up around town? That was one of his initiatives. And if you caught yourself thinking, “Wow, that guy is really good” while listening to a radio spot featuring someone from Rav Dems, well that would have been Rob!

    Serving in leadership positions since high school, it’s no wonder that he’s so good at putting folks at ease and greasing the wheels in helping to bring Democratic values to the Valley.

    Find out more about Rob by clicking on his photo, or leave him a note.

  • Cindy Havens

    Cindy Havens

    Treasurer

    As our token dweeb, Cindy drives us all freaking nuts, but as inclusive Dems we try really hard to tolerate her.

    Find out more about Cindy by clicking on her photo, or leave her a note.

  • Diane Jones

    Diane Jones

    Secretary

    After 40 years off the grid, Diane thinks Stevensville is the big time. She’s someone you can always count on for a laugh and a ready smile.

    And it doesn’t hurt that she always believes Bill when he reports on how big the fish were that he caught…

    Find out more about Diane by clicking on her photo, or leave her a note.

  • Margaret Gorski

    Margaret Gorski

    State Representative

    Margaret grew up in the Air Force; her father a master sergeant and her mother a teacher. That made her a public servant by nature that influenced her career choice and drives her work and her service to this valley and the organizations she leads. She cares for the wellbeing of our residents, both human and animal and cares deeply about the future quality of life in our valley.

    Margaret is focused on the potential effects of climate change on our water and natural resources. Margaret firmly believes that the government is run by those who show up. She ran for our State Legislature three times and remains alert to state and local politics.

    Find out more about Margaret by clicking on her photo, or leave her a note.

  • Skip Kowalski

    Skip Kowalski

    State Representative

    Skip grew up on a family farm in upstate New York and gained a love of animals, both those that sustain us on farms and those who struggle to survive in the wild. He had a long career in the Forest Service fighting for the rights of wildlife and continues, in retirement, to work on their behalf in organizations who see the value of sustaining habitat for our wild animal neighbors.

    Those who work with Skip know and respect his intelligence, kindness, thoughtfulness, and thinking collaboratively through issues.

    Find out more about Skip by clicking on his photo, or leave him a note.

  • Pam Erickson

    Alternate 2

    With her sunny disposition and agile form, Pam graces every room.

    Years and years of teaching dance to wriggling urchins (and some excellent performers) has made Pam – and given to us – a gentle, laughing charmer.

    We are indeed lucky to have Pam on our team!

    Find out more about Pam by clicking on her photo, or leave her a note.

  • George Havens

    George Havens

    Alternate 3

    Have a friend write a sentence or two lead-in to replace this text.

    Find out more about George by clicking on his photo, or leave him a note.

  • Brenda Allington

    Brenda Allington

    Member at Large

    People who know Brenda well can attest to her leadership skills.

    She is intelligent, a gifted writer and speaker and most importantly, she “walks the talk”, devoting her life to others.

    As a well-respected nurse-midwife, Brenda used her profession to help those at home and at our borders. Her travels have provided an understanding of other countries and people, honoring their way of life, culture, and history.

    Brenda is a living example of open, helping hands and a kind, generous heart.

    Find out more about Brenda by clicking on her photo, or leave her a note.

  • Bill Jones

    Bill Jones

    Member at Large

    Bill’s pretty sure there isn’t a problem he can’t solve. At least that’s what Diane tells us. He has special skills in the area of problems that don’t exist.

    Seriously, he is one clever guy.

    Find out more about Bill by clicking on his photo, or leave him a note.

Linda Schmitt

Linda Schmitt

Chair

A Washington DC native, Linda is educated in political science and organizational development.  As an owner of a small consulting firm for almost thirty years, she has long been interested in how we run our society (aka politics).

Not a stranger to the Valley, thirty years ago she began spending time here with daughters Kierstin and Melissa.  Appreciative of the special place Ravalli County is, both for its beauty and its people, the obvious next chapter of her life was to become a resident.  Linda jumped right in to Democratic politics when she moved here with her husband in 2018.

Two main interests spur her urgency to act:

  1. The big threats to democracy, which she sees as voting rights, climate change, and equal justice.
  2. Hyper-partisanship that undermines community spirit.  She believes that in Ravalli County we can do better than gridlocked debate.

Contact Linda.

Rob Tossberg

Rob Tossberg

Vice-Chair

Rob is a Democrat because Democrats look out for each other and take care of one another, regardless of financial status, race, education, disability, gender or place of birth.

He attended Corvallis Elementary and Hamilton High.  In spite of being a hell raiser and in one kind trouble or another with the local police, Rob was active in High School and served as Class President, Ski Club President and Key Club President.  Rob graduated from HHS in 1979. He obtained a BA from Lewis & Clark College and has been lucky enough to have lived in Spain, New York City, Los Angeles and Mexico City, but he’s happiest in his home town Hamilton, near his parents Fritz and Milly Tossberg.

In 2003 Rob founded Plan it Green Printing, Inc., which he continues to run… or perhaps it’s better to say it runs him.
Rob judges people by their morals and ethics.
He has little tolerance for lies and liars, cheats and cheaters.
And he is infuriated that our system of justice allows people in high places to commit crimes but they are rarely punished.

Contact Rob

Cindy Havens

Cindy Havens

Treasurer

Brought up by staunch John Birchers, Cindy solidly supported the Republican party platform in her youth.  Social, economic, and climate justice issues weren’t at the top of Cindy’s radar.  Then her hang glider broke at over 12,000 feet and her parachute failed.  Miraculously not a single bone was broken, but that wake-up call did cause her to take a hard look at what she believed and why.

“Paying it forward” actually became a much more fun way of life and opened up doors that took her to Kenya to help with clean water projects and mentoring women to give them computer skills and help get them out of poverty.  She also worked in several areas in India to assist with various humanitarian projects, as well as in the Philippine Islands and Kyrgyzstan.

Recently retired from a career in software engineering and directing Information Technology operations, she currently is working with several progressive organizations, mostly driving everyone crazy with her “there’s an app for that” mind set. She is crazy about dogs, and held a seat on the U.S. Women’s World Hang Gliding Team.

Contact Cindy

Diane Jones

Diane Jones

Secretary

“I wanted to see what we could do” was the thought that propelled Diane and Bill to 40 years off the grid high in the San Bernardino mountains.  Diane felt the cities below were not the place to raise kids.  She taught herself how to grow organic crops, raise some livestock and nurture their two boys.  “Cloth diapers,” she laughs.  Her quilts are all handstitched  – zero machine stitching.

Bill was on deep sea research trips and later, utility jobs down in the valleys so Diane fended for herself and the boys during his times away.  Fires, floods, mudslides…. the family handled them all. Boy, do they have stories to tell!  Eventually Diane and her family found the Bitterroot and set up a family compound with the boys and their families in Stevensville.  She laughs, “Stevensville is the big city to me!”  She says one of the best things about living here is enjoying all her new friends.  Diane keeps our feet on the ground and a smile on our faces.  She’s one in a million.

Contact Diane

Margaret Gorski

Margaret Gorski

State Representative

Margaret retired after having worked 35 years in the US Forest Service and National Park Service in various land management and recreation service positions in three National Forests and three National Parks and in the West. She held positions as the Northern Region Recreation Program Leader, District Ranger, District Recreation Staff, Recreation Planner, Landscape Architect, and Seasonal National Park Ranger-Naturalist. From 1998-2006, she served as the Forest Service’s National Coordinator for the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial.

Since retiring, she has been President of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation in 2013-2015 and has served on the board of the Partnership for the National Trails System and the Bitterroot Trail. She is currently the President of the Friends of Fort Owen and a member of the Ravalli County Citizens Collaborative.

She has a B.S. in Forest Resources Outdoor Recreation from the University of Washington and an M.L.A. (Masters of Landscape Architecture) from the University of California, Berkeley.

Margaret is married to Skip Kowalski, a retired Wildlife Biologist who worked for and is retired from the Forest Service. Skip is also active in volunteer work, serving on the Montana Wildlife Federation. She and Skip enjoy traveling, birding, camping, hiking, and keeping up with their Labradors Retrievers, Raven and Ember.

Contact Margaret

Skip Kowalski

Skip Kowalski

State Representative

Skip learned at an early age that he was born to be a Democrat.  He is the grandson of Polish immigrant dairy farmers who settled in the Mohawk Valley of New York and worked as laborers in the carpet mills until they could scrape up enough funds to buy dairy farms of their own.  They were grateful to be U.S. citizens, were true patriots and were members of the “working class” who toiled long and hard to achieve the American dream.  They instilled the hard work ethic and an appreciation for the opportunity to get ahead.

Skip has a life-long appreciation for agriculture and the natural world.  He was the first in his family to attend college and received B.S. and M.S. degrees in wildlife biology and natural resources management.  As an M.S. degree candidate, he spent a year in Iran where he gained an appreciation for people of other cultures, religions and financial means.  He often says, “All Americans should spend time abroad living among other cultures to fully appreciate being an American. If we did, perhaps would be a little more compassionate and less judgmental in our behavior.”

Skip spent almost 40 years in government service working primarily as a wildlife biologist and resource planner for the U.S. Forest Service, feeling that his job was to speak for the critters who could not speak for themselves.  He worked in some of the most magnificent portions of Colorado, California and Montana where he witnessed first-hand some of the negative consequences of short-sighted or inadequate planning.  He has heard too many times that prevailing attitude of “Don’t tell us.  We know what we are doing. I t will never happen here.”  In his own way, he has attempted to help change some of these attitudes.

In retirement, Skip continues to speak for the critters and tries to protect and preserve special habitats that are critical for wildlife’s survival and for the benefit of people as well.  He works part-time for the Montana Land Reliance and volunteers for the Montana and national Wildlife Federations, and serves on a number of conservation related Boards and conservation minded working groups and will probably continue until he is “six feet under!”

Contact Skip

Pam Erickson

Alternate 2

Still dancing….Pam owned a studio and taught dance for over 20 years. Her students stay in touch though they’re scattered to the winds. She’s an active, committed Democrat who ran for office twice in the Valley and says “the best part was making my opponent shudder.” He wasn’t accustomed to a woman who understood the issues. “I got to know so many people, young and old. I treasure the experience of running for office.”

Pam and Kirby’s kids and grandkids remain close. Her contributions to the Valley and to the Democrats are significant and valued by her many friends and fans.

Contact Pam

George Havens

George Havens

Alternate 3

George is a retired combat veteran, having served nearly 29 years in the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Public Health Service.  He received a B.S. in Pharmacy from the University of Illinois at Chicago. The majority of George’s uniformed career focused on providing services and resources to those most at risk.

He has served the populations of numerous Native American nations in a number of public health roles.  Much of his career was focused on international humanitarian relief.  While assigned to the U.S. Agency for International Development he was involved in coordinating the delivery of assistance in numerous conflicts and natural disasters.  Closer to home, while assigned to FEMA and Health and Human Services, he managed and coordinated healthcare delivery to impacted populations during domestic emergencies, including Hurricane Katrina.

George has seen firsthand how social and environmental disparities impact those most at risk.  These experiences have shaped his worldview and have made him passionate about social justice and environmental stewardship.  As a veteran, issues surrounding veterans’ benefits is also of concern.

Contact George

Brenda Allington

Brenda Allington

Member at Large

An only child of older parents, Brenda learned early in life “to think like an adult” and was expected to act like one—so much so that her nickname in college was “moldy”.  She was attempting to write the perfect research paper, while her peers were attempting a perfect fake ID!  She chose nursing as a major in college because her mom told her to.  A pragmatic woman of the great depression, her mom simply advised–“Nurses can always get a job”.  So, a nurse she became —for 40 years.

It is hard not to believe in Divine Providence when she found herself in Washington, D.C enrolled in Georgetown University as an Air Force Officer to pursue a career in nurse-midwifery. She never considered a military career and had no idea what a nurse-midwife was or did.  Nevertheless, she settled into an amazing career which included the privilege of being the first CNM in Missoula to be granted hospital privileges practicing full scope women’s health– including the first births attended by a nurse-midwife at both Community Medical Center and St. Pat’s.

Realizing the blessing of extraordinary people in her life, she has come to see them as “love notes from God” and sees living her truth as living a life of gratitude, integrity, and humility—just as her father, an Italian immigrant , taught her by his example.

As an adult, two very extraordinary friends taught her that politics and government are more than an abstract concept, and the loss of both of them to cancer presented a choice—one that was easy to make.  Just as she found herself pursuing a career that was– unbeknownst to her– a calling, she found the values of integrity, truth, generosity, respect, and inclusivity to be evident in the group of people known as the Ravalli County Democrats.  Her hope is to “pay it forward” to those who have enriched her life beyond measure, to her community, and to the country she was– and is– proud to serve.

Contact Brenda

Bill Jones

Bill Jones

Member at Large

Bill Jones was born and raised in New York’s Hudson Valley. In 1968 the US Selective Service “found him a job” with the US Army that gave him some familiarity with the Hawk surface to air missile.

He returned to his job in the ocean sediment core lab at the Lamont Geological Observatory of Columbia University, and then moved to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography to work on the Deep Sea Drilling Project. He sailed on the Research Vessel Glomar Challenger on 12 expeditions, logging 24 months of sea time. His time there was highlighted by great good fortune, when he met his lovely soulmate Diane. They married in 1972.

Bill followed a couple years of college with seven seasons as wildlands firefighter in engines and helitack for the US. Forest Service, California Region. In 1985 he joined the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union, dispatched around the state to line construction crews performing overhead and underground work for numerous utility companies. For several years Bill served as the elected Outside Line Unit Recorder. Retiring in 2007, Bill and Diane began many summers in Lolo where Bill developed his “flyfishing addiction.” In 2016 they made the plunge to full time life in the Bitterroot, buying acreage east of the Stevi airport and letting go of their 40 acres high up in the California mountains.

Contact Bill