Board and Staff
Hannah has always been in love with the natural world. As a child, she was always outside. Her summers were spent at Lake Champlain harvesting blueberries, fishing and making preserves, and canned goods with her mom. Those magical experiences have shaped Hannah's career and her relationship with her community. Hannah has owned a successful flower business for over 20 years and is a professional Fly Fishing guide. She loves teaching others about the importance of clean waters as the foundation for healthy ecosystems. Hannah lives off the grid in Idaho with her husband and adopted twins. She is thrilled to be a part of the blossoming O'Hara Commons and looks forward to its unfolding future.
Hannah Spencer Fast, Chair
As a child growing up in central Ohio, Craig and his siblings were each assigned a section of the family's one acre garden. He was fascinated with the variety of flowers and vegetables they could grow. His first job was selling honey, and eventually he opened a food co-op that still exists today. He joins the board of the O'Hara Commons to connect with the community and hopes to share and nurture his lifelong passion for the growing things of this planet with others. Craig is the father of four children and has been married to his beautiful, calm and patient wife for 40 years.
Craig Kreider, Vice Chair, Interim
Creating energy in shared visions -Traci works in natural resource management for the non-profit sector, serving landowners and connecting with multiple stakeholders. A resident of the Blackfoot valley since 1991, she recently relocated to the Bitterroot and works from home as a Finance, Grants & Contracts Manager for the Blackfoot Challenge. With an authentic love for all things Earth, and a background in accounting and business fundamentals, the O’Hara Commons is a natural fit and exciting opportunity. Her keen awareness of networking people and place is a passion and valued quality. Life involves any adventure outdoors with her faithful dog Izzy. Catching up with her two kids or sharing a journey with a treasure of diverse friends brings life balance.
Traci Bignell, 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
Len grew up in Sheridan Wyoming and helped his grand-parents truck farm growing vegetables for local grocery stores and sale in a garden stand. He got a degree in forestry at the University of Idaho and worked for 16 seasons for the US Forest Service as a technician.
In 1987, Len helped found a native plant nursery in the Bitterroot Valley to provide native plant restoration services for revegetation of mines and other disturbed sites. In 2006, he joined Herrera Environmental Consultants. At Herrera, he has been involved in projects in habitat enhancement, exotic vegetation control, out-planting techniques, native plant seed collection and native plant propagation planning.
Len his wife have lived in Corvallis Montana for 33 years and raised a son and daughter in their Corvallis home. They grow and preserve most of their own food and provide fruit and vegetables to an extended family and friends. Len is also an avid fisherman and elk hunter and is successful in supplying healthy wild meat for his family.
Len Ballek, Board Member
Samantha has 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 for over 19 years 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