by Travis Mateer
The PR infrastructure being built around this seed money has the word “connect” in it.
Why is that important?
Because, as this post will show, I like the word “connect” ALMOST as much as our illuminated braintrust, and they REALLY LOVE the word, as the former Project Homeless Connect (now Community Connect) and Project Employment Connect programs clearly illustrate.
So, this latest installment of creating a program to connect people is called Substance Abuse Connect (SAC) and is described like this (November, 2020):
A coalition called Missoula Substance Abuse Connect received a $248,000 federal grant on Friday to help the community fight violent, drug-related crime and to reduce substance abuse.
U.S. Attorney for Montana, Kurt Alme provided details of the grant to KGVO News on Friday.
“Project Safe Neighborhoods Missoula has been focusing hard on reducing meth supply because of its connection to the increase in violent crime there and across the state and now, Missoula community has received almost a $250,000 grant from the Office of National Drug Control Policy that’s come through the Rocky Mountain HIDTA which is our drug enforcement organization to help our community develop a prevention and treatment plan to reduce demand for methamphetamine.”
Now, when I hear the word “connect” and see that some kind of government funding is involved, I immediately think United Way, one of the more influential non-profits in Missoula. And, with this SAC, sure enough, United Way is heavily involved, like I have previously reported (see first link).
Here is how the leadership of the SAC is shaping up so far:
“The United Way has taken the lead in Missoula County, and they already have an excellent staff beginning to come on board, such as the very talented project director Shannon Spruill, and also project chair Jana Lundquist, who will be working and leading the way on this coalition as we develop what the needs are and what the steps should be taken to shore up what we’re lacking in prevention and treatment.”
The Department of Justice government website has a little more context on this SAC’s leadership (my emphasis):
Missoula Substance Abuse Connect will be managed by United Way of Missoula County and a volunteer board of business and community leaders. The project director is Shannan Sproull, who is an authority on substance abuse prevention with decades of experience in the public and private sectors. The project chair is Janna Lundquist, a respected organizational consultant and former United Way board president with an extensive background in business and nonprofit leadership. Project leaders are recruiting an executive committee and working group from among the 40 public and private coalition member organizations.
Since I’m a curious Virgo who LOVES organizing stuff AND I enjoy the word “connect”, I went to MEET THE TEAM at Janna Lundquist Consulting. By “team” I guess I mean the only other person involved in this consulting group, Tiaan Terblanche, a handsome fellow with an exotic sounding name and pedigree to match:
If the screen shot is difficult to see, this dapper man–with connections to a British law firm AND a big bank is South Africa–is based in a faraway place called Pretoria.
Hmmm, I thought to myself, didn’t Missoula’s State Senator, Ellie Boldman (formerly Ellie Hill and formerly Ellie Smith), get temporarily stranded in South Africa on some State Department funded trip to promote STEM education to poor African girls?
Yes she did (my emphasis):
The team will partner with University of Pretoria college students and faculty members in South Africa. They will oversee a pilot program in a nearby township to connect girls with college-aged mentors and local professionals while teaching them math skills.
“Partnering these teenage girls with college-aged mentors makes the possibility of next steps in education and leadership development accessible,” said Hill. “Through this grant, we are able to pilot larger-scale, long-term partnerships to replicate. My passion is gender equity in STEM and leadership development not just in Montana, but worldwide.”
I like making connections, but, sadly, not every connection can be explicitly stated. And not every point of emphasis needs be overtly explained.
Other people are out there, making their own connections, and with every off-the-record conversation I have with piece-holding connectors, the picture of a network that protects its own, and why, becomes a little bit clearer.
If you want to share your piece of the puzzle, you can reach me at willskink at yahoo dot com. Thanks for reading.