Board and Staff
As an Artist and Waldorf Educator, Dulcie works every day to support strong community from organizing community celebrations of the seasons to riding her bike to buy local food and goods for her family. Originally from Oregon, she moved to Montana in 1992 to attend the University of Montana where she received a BFA in Ceramic Arts, lived in Choteau where she helped begin the Choteau Community Art Studio and finally settled in the Bitterroot Valley. Dulcie and her family live in the heart of Hamilton where her boys help grow food in their abundant backyard garden and appreciate the beauty of the Bitterroot River just a short walk from their back door. After 13 years of teaching preschool, she now works full-time creating artwork to inspire people to love and live fully.
Dulcie Belanger, Chair
Susan has a degree in English Literature and a professional background as a paralegal, running intensive litigation like the ‘Trial of the Century’ that took place in New Orleans after the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, as well as preparing the case for the Fukushima nuclear incident.
She gained a deep understanding of the local community and volunteer spirit in Hamilton when serving as the Executive Director at the Daly Mansion in 2009 - 2011. She hopes to contribute to the O'Hara Commons with her business skills and generally unflappable nature.
She enjoys biodynamic composting, flower gardening, and the unique expression of terroir that comes with fermentation. She stands firmly in favor of the Oxford comma. She and her intrepid mate, Lindy, gladly live near Hamilton.
Susan Hardman, Treasurer
Bill was raised in Mississippi, but escaped from there in 1969, winding up in Montana in 1977, where his main regret has been failure in growing speckled butterbeans and okra to go with his cornbread and turnip greens. He completed a MS degree at the University of Montana in wildland vegetation ecology from the School of Forestry in 1994. Bill loves to roam the hills looking for natural secrets and photo ops. He is no master gardener, but sometimes manage to supply himself with tomatoes, jalapeños, onions, and a few other essentials (with Pat’s help, of course), while leaving the production of squashes, beets, and other inedibles to her.
William Thompson, Secretary
When not fermenting at House of Ferments, Erin can be found outside attempting to be sporty while usually drinking some sort of fermented beverage. She has a soft spot for all things furry, especially her best bud, Omi. They love to go wilding in Western Montana seeking adventure and inspiration. Erin has called Western Montana home since 2001. She hails from the Northeast where she earned a BS in Environmental Science from The University of Vermont. Erin worked in the field of restoration ecology in the intermountain west for 15 years before the lure of fermentation and her love of food and community inspired her to start her own business, House of Ferments. Erin believes that food is a common denominator. It’s a great way to learn from and about others. Erin loves fermentation because it is a blend of science, art, and culture.
Erin Belmont, Board Member
Growing up, Karen wanted to be a Naturalist. She never became one...professionally. She is, however, a consummate researcher and lifelong student of nature and all that piques her curiosity. She moved to the Bitterroot a few years ago and is loving all of the new adventures Montana has to offer. Karen and her husband spend their free time exploring and looking for new places to hike, hunt, and fish. At home they experiment with creative recipes using locally grown foods and harvested game. Karen is learning how to garden in this northern climate and is convinced that the secret to a weed-free pasture is right below the soles of your boots. Karen has three grown children and can’t wait to have her grandson come and visit for the whole summer!
Karen Zumwalt-Blackwood, Board Member
Samantha transitioned from 13 years of owning and managing a retail garden business into the role of executive director with The O’Hara Commons. She brings with her a rich understanding of our local community, a passion for sustainable living and a lifetime dedicated to education. Samantha has lived and gardened in the Bitterroot Valley since 1998 and is always finding a way to spend as much time as possible, everyday, outside surrounded by nature. Every year Samantha fills her garden with enough to feed all who visit and has always been fortunate that the deer, the rabbits, the birds and the insects have always been well mannered. Her motto: Let no question go unanswered.
Samantha O'Byrne, Executive Director
Renee is a long-time and still-learning gardener of 25 years. Most of her gardening has been in the short, dry, cool season environments of the Intermountain West and Great Basin. She’s been living in the Bitterroot for 5 years now, is a Level 3 Montana Master Gardener (and again, still learning), and thrilled by the “mild climate” and “longer” frost free season of the Bitterroot Valley. At home she has 1/2 acre fenced for berries, fruit trees, and vegetables, with ornamental perennials and annuals thrown in for the pollinators. She’ll be the first to admit what she doesn’t know but is a real bulldog when it comes to getting answers for you.
Renee Snyder, Volunteer Coordinator