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AJAY MT staff

Gabrielle Eklund Rowley
Executive Director

Gabrielle was raised on a wheat farm in central Montana. After she earned a B.A. from Tufts University, she worked for fifteen years in nonprofit organizations (from Alaska to the Mid-Atlantic) focused on experiential education, leadership development, and college access. She earned her MPA from the University of Montana, with a focus in nonprofit administration. She is particularly interested in youth development and working to help individuals and communities thrive. Currently living in Helena, Gabe stays busy raising two young children and enjoys playing outside in all seasons.

You can contact her at or 406-490-4954.

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Nisan Burbridge
Program & Outreach Coordinator

Nisan’s commitment to youth and career exploration started with running a high school job shadow program in her home state of Washington which led to managing a summer youth jobs program while completing her Masters in Education from Western Washington University.

Nisan has worked with a variety of groups ( from high school students to college students to adult career changers) coordinating experiential experiences and collaborating with business, community, and education partners. She has training in career coaching, industry sector partnerships, work-based learning, youth employment, and career pathway development.  

Nisan and her husband moved to Helena in 2006, after a friend of a friend told them to look up her parents if they were passing through Helena. Recently, in her role with the State of Montana she worked on various strategic initiatives - supporting communities in effectively partnering with business and industry to address workforce issues.  

She believes learning that hands-on experience for youth creates a better pipeline and improves the connection between businesses and job seekers, leading to better outcomes for both.

You can contact her at

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Sara D. Whittle

Sara D. Whittle grew up in the Little Snake River Valley along the Wyoming and Colorado border.  She attended Cottey Women’s College in Nevada, Missouri and finished her B.A. in Communication at the University of Wyoming.  After a brief break in corporate event planning, Sara returned to graduate school where she earned her M.A. in Communication with an emphasis in education. Sara has worked for over ten years in higher education focused on college access, success, and retention. During her tenure as the GEAR UP Wyoming Professional Development Coordinator, Sara presented A Framework for Understanding Poverty to dozens of audiences affiliated with middle school, high school, and college. She was the Academic Resource Center Director for Rocky Mountain College in Billings where she administered programs and provided services to assist at-risk students and now is the Director of Upward Bound and Educational Talent Search at Montana State University Billings. Sara is an avid outdoor runner, whose primary role is chasing around her two teenage daughters.

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