A New Era As A Not-For-Profit

The Board of Directors of Montana Academy is committed to sustaining and nurturing a therapeutic boarding school by adopting sound ethical principles, legal governance, and financial management.  Working closely with the school’s Leadership Team, the Board encourages integrating social and emotional learning with a strong academic curriculum to help adolescents develop into healthy and successful adults.

Montana Academy Therapeutic Boarding School Board of Directors

Rhonda Friedman


Rhonda Friedman

ScD, President

Rhonda has over 40 years of health care experience in both the public and private sectors. Currently retired, she was a founding partner of three bioscience companies: TraumaCure, Inc., Bethesda Bioscience Partners LLC, and Coagulation Diagnostics, Inc. Before heading her own companies, Dr. Friedman was Vice President of The MEDSTAT Group, a health care information company, head of the Marketing section of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association, and Legislative Aide for Health on committees in both the US House of Representatives and the US Senate. In addition to the Montana Academy Foundation, she has served as the Chair of the Board of Directors of Girls Inc. of the Washington DC Area, as a member of the Board of Directors of The Olney Theater Center, and as a member of the Institutional Review Board at Suburban Hospital. She currently serves on the Institutional Review Board of Medical City Hospital of Dallas, TX.

Montana Academy Therapeutic Boarding School Board of Directors

Thomas Bertolli


Thomas Bertolli

MD, MPH, Vice President

Thomas Bertolli is the Chief Medical Officer at both Redwood Coast Medical Services and Long Valley Health Center in Northern California. He earned a BA in Psychology and an MPH in Epidemiology and Biostatistics, both at U.C. Berkeley. Tom received his MD from GWU and did his residency training in Family and Community Medicine at U.C., San Francisco. His life-long medical career serving underserved populations in not-for- profit community health clinics is a testament to his belief that health care is a right, not a privilege. For the last ten years, he has focused on helping patients addicted to opioids. Tom is a Montana Academy alumni parent whose son graduated in 2006. To this day, he couldn’t be more grateful for the lessons they both learned. He finds calm and solace fly fishing the rivers of the world.

Montana Academy Therapeutic Boarding School Board of Directors

Dennis Hartzell


Dennis Hartzell

Dennis Hartzell received a BA from Hamilton College and a MA from Duke University, both in English Literature. Mr. Hartzell has spent his entire professional career in education. He spent over twenty years as a secondary school English teacher and administrator, four years as a college basketball coach, and ten years in higher education as an advancement and external affairs officer at Columbia University, at the University of California, San Francisco, and at the University of Maryland. He is the author of Odysseus: The Complete Adventures (Longmans). and is the parent of a 2013 Montana Academy graduate. He served as Head of School at Montana Academy in 2013-15 and as Executive Director of the Montana Academy Foundation in 2017-20.  

Montana Academy Therapeutic Boarding School Board of Directors

Thomas W. Kellerman


Thomas W. Kellerman

J.D., Secretary/Treasurer

Thomas received his law degree from UCLA and is currently Senior Counsel with the law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, LLP, based in Palo Alto, California.  He previously served as the Managing Partner of the Palo Alto office and as the co-chair of the firm-wide Emerging Business and Technology Practice Group.  His practice emphasizes corporate governance, public and private securities transactions, and mergers and acquisitions for technology companies ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies.  He spent four years practicing in London, England and regularly advises on cross-border transactions.  He frequently lectures on topics within his practice area and has served on several non-profit boards and state bar committees.  He is the parent of a Montana Academy alumnus.

Montana Academy Therapeutic Boarding School Board of Directors

Joseph Ramirez


Joseph Ramirez

Treasurer

Joseph Ramirez is the Chief Financial Officer for Catholic Charities of Central Florida. He earned a BS in Finance from Elmhurst College and a MBA from Rollins College Crummer Graduate School of Business. He holds the designations of Certified Public Accountant and Certified Management Accountant and is an IRS certified Registered Tax Return Preparer. In addition to Catholic Charities he has served in various financial capacities for several domestic and international companies, including as CFO for Intermountain in Helena, MT. He currently serves on the board of Lakeland Florida’s homeless shelter, on the Talbot House Ministries Board of Directors as Treasurer, on Holy Family of Orlando’s School Board, and as a member of Holy Family’s School and Parish finance committees. He has also served as a member of Kairos Prison Ministry International, a group of men providing alternative lifestyles to men undergoing incarceration.

Montana Academy Therapeutic Boarding School Board of Directors

Christina Dawson


Christina Dawson

Originally from London, Christina Dawson worked as a civil servant specializing in training and industrial relations. In 1990, she took a leave of absence to accompany her husband on assignment to California. Being unable to work proved to be surprisingly liberating. By the time her sons entered the public school system, she was enthusiastically committed to the local spirit of volunteerism. She took leadership positions within women’s groups, parents and sports associations, and volunteered in the classroom.  The family was transferred back to the UK and in 2002 returned ‘home’ to California. 

In 2007, Christina became a naturalized US citizen. She is a Trustee of Whitman College, a Honorary Fellow of St. Catharine’s College, Cambridge, and a Fellow Benefactor of Selwyn College, Cambridge.  Her younger son graduated from Montana Academy in December, 2011.

Montana Academy Therapeutic Boarding School Board of Directors

Elizabeth Kohlstaedt, Ph.D


Elizabeth Kohlstaedt, Ph.D

Elizabeth Kohlstaedt is a licensed psychologist and was the Chief Clinical Officer of Intermountain, a children’s behavioral health care agency in Montana serving over 1200 children and families, from 1990 – 2017. Dr. Kohlstaedt received a B.A. in German from Purdue University, an M.S. in linguistics from Indiana University, an M.A. in physiological psychology from Arizona State University and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from University of Montana. She has served as adjunct faculty at Syracuse University, University of Montana and Carroll College and has trained medical, psychology, social work and counseling interns from around Montana and around the country. Dr. Kohlstaedt has appeared on Prime Time Live, National Public Radio and in the Los Angeles Times to discuss attachment disorders and has provided seminars for attorneys, judges, physicians, nurses, foster parents, case workers, clinicians and direct care staff on issues of attachment, child development and trauma.  Dr. Kohlstaedt was honored as a distinguished alumna by the University of Montana in 2014 for her work through Intermountain.

Montana Academy Therapeutic Boarding School Board of Directors

John Whittle, J.D.


John Whittle, J.D.

John Whittle has 25 years of experience managing a wide range of corporate governance, corporate development, and legal matters. For almost fourteen years, John has served as an executive at Fortinet, Inc., a leading information technology security company listed on Nasdaq. In addition to his role at Fortinet as EVP of Corporate Development, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, John serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Fortinet Foundation, a non-profit charitable organization, and as a member of the Board of Directors of various of Fortinet’s affiliated entities.  Prior to Fortinet, John was Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of Corio, an early enterprise software-as-a-services, cloud software company, where he managed the company’s corporate governance and legal matters, including an initial public offering and Corio’s acquisition by IBM. Prior to Corio, John was an attorney at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, representing technology companies in general corporate matters and corporate governance, mergers and acquisitions, and initial public offerings. John holds a B.A. in history from the University of Virginia and a J.D., magna cum laude, from Cornell University.

Montana Academy Therapeutic Boarding School Board of Directors

Gretchen Boyer


Gretchen Boyer

Gretchen Boyer joined the staff of Montana Academy in 1999 and held a variety of positions at the school for seventeen years. She directed the development of MA’s widely admired Sky House transition program from 2004 to 2014. She then served as Director of Operations for the school, with responsibility for program development, hiring and training, strategic planning, and budgeting. She also served as a regional board member for the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP). In 2017, Gretchen transitioned from Montana Academy to become the Executive Director of Farm Hands – Nourish the Flathead, a nonprofit organization focused on supporting local agriculture and promoting access to healthy food.  She looks forward to sharing her experience as a MA staff alumna in helping to secure the future of Montana Academy. Gretchen’s husband is a fisheries biologist for the State of Montana, and they have an almost 13-year-old son.  They live in Whitefish and enjoy skiing, hiking, and immersing themselves in the outdoors of Montana.  

Montana Academy Therapeutic Boarding School Board of Directors

Patricia Phelan, Ph.D.


Patricia Phelan, Ph.D.

Born in Portland, OR, Patricia Phelan earned her BS in Education at Oregon State University, her Masters in Anthropology, and her Ph.D. in Anthropology of Education at Stanford University.  Subsequently, she held faculty positions in the Medical Anthropology Program at the University of California and at Stanford University where she was a senior research scholar.  In 1992, Pat joined the faculty as a Professor at the University of Washington where she designed an academic concentration on at-risk youth.  Her teaching and research focused on the linguistic, sociocultural, and psychosocial borders adolescents face as well as contexts that promote academic, social, and emotional growth.  In 1996, she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and was one of six invited senior teaching and research scholars from the US to Australia.  After retiring from the University of Washington in 2001, Pat started her own consulting firm in Portland, OR, (with Dr. Ann Locke Davidson) providing advice and assistance to families searching for school and therapeutic options for struggling adolescents and young adults. She retired from Educational Connections in January 2018.  Pat has one grown son.