We’re here for it.
Wellness Navigator Network
We don’t heal alone. We inherently need one another, at a basic biological level.
The Wellness Navigator Network is a community-led approach to mental health and wellbeing. This small yet powerful group of volunteers connect individuals to existing resources and are the heart of the behavioral health coalition working to build an ecosystem where everyone can thrive.
Who we are
We are your neighbors and friends, and Big Sky’s bartenders, custodians, non-profit leaders, administrators, ski patrollers, teachers, event and HR directors, small business owners, teachers, grocery and hospitality workers, housekeepers, chaplains, chefs, and beyond.
What We Do
We are trained in emotional first aid, suicide alertness, and know how to help community members access services. We are not mental health experts, but when you need someone to turn to and you’re not sure where to start, we are here for it. *We are not a substitute for mental health counseling and should not be used in place of a counselor. If you are in crisis, call 988 or 911
Why It Matters
We are here to disrupt the status quo by building a culture of care in Big Sky. Together, let’s shift a culture that’s been deeply rooted in, “Don’t show weakness; I can do this on my own”, to a culture of reciprocity and mutual aid.
Meet the Navigators
Though you can’t call or email us directly, if you see us in the community, don’t hesitate to reach out!
Eileen is the Big Sky Community Organization (BSCO) Recreation and Wellness Manager who creates programs within BASE Community Center and organizes outdoor recreation opportunities for residents and visitors alike. She believes in recreation programs as a way to support the health, wellness, and social connectedness of our community. BASE Community Center is a hub for behavioral health and recreation resources. Eileen has lived in Big Sky since 2011. You can find her exploring the peaks and rivers of MT in her spare time with her husband and 2 dogs.
Emily Lesser is the Director of HR at Yellowstone Club and joined the navigator network to become an even more knowledgeable resource in the community. She believes in making Big Sky the best town it can be and wants to be able to provide resources to those in need. Emily enjoys skiing, snowmobiling, and adventuring with her blue heeler Wentz.
Gladys was born and raised in Jalisco, Mexico. She had been in Big Sky for two years and is co-owner of Beehive Cleaning and Maintenance services with her husband Travis Wangsgard. Her background is in politics and public management since 2011. Holding a degree in Communication Sciences, she believes in equal human rights and committed with the 2030 Agenda. Her interest as a community navigator is to advocate for the people that need it, particularly to the Latinx population in Big Sky.
Hope, originally from New Haven, Connecticut, is thrilled to call Big Sky home! Hope has a B.A. in Political Science with a minor in Geography from Southern Connecticut State University. She has long been passionate about ensuring that individuals, regardless of their circumstances, have the tools and resources to reach their full potential. This belief led her to undertake coursework focused on social and public policy, human rights law, development theory, and public health interventions at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. She is very excited to serve the Big Sky community and contribute to the great work being done at WIA. When Hope is not in the office you can find her seeking out her next cup of coffee or on one of the many trails around town with her dog Duke!
Formally, the 4th Grade Head Learner at Big Sky School District since 2000, he recently graduated from 4th grade and has taken on the role of MS/HS Lead Facilitator of Creativity and Innovation. When not in the classroom, he coaches various athletic teams, consults with local summer camps, and hopes to continue to advocate for Big Sky’s youth and the larger community through this platform.
Originally from Atlanta Georgia, John has lived in Montana since 2003 having moved here from Park City, Utah. After working as a river guide for six years after college John spent his professional career in hospitality management, specifically hotels and resorts. He feels especially connected to Big Sky having spent the last 20 years working for various hospitality companies in the community. “Becoming involved in the Wellness Navigators program provides an opportunity to give back to the Big Sky community that has given so much to me.” When not working in Big Sky, John enjoys traveling and floating Montana’s rivers with his wife and two children.
Kiernan McCarthy is the Program Manager at Wellness In Action (WIA). She grew up in New York, but moved to Montana post-college to work seasonally. She is deeply interested in continuing to build relationships with community members to further the wellbeing of Big Sky. With her time off you can usually find her exploring the mountains whether its hiking, camping, or skiing.
Miriam Schmidt is the pastor/priest at All Saints in Big Sky, a shared ministry of the Episcopal and Lutheran (ELCA) churches that meets at Big Sky Chapel. She also serves as on-call chaplain at Big Sky Medical Center. She cares deeply about the spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical health of people in this community, so is glad to be part of the Navigator Team. A native of NYC, Miriam is now happy to call the Montana mountains home and tries to backpack in the summer and Nordic ski in the winter as much as possible!
MJ Matute is the Director of Talent & Culture for the Food & Beverage department at Big Sky Resort. Originally from Peru, she has been living in the Big Sky community for over 15 years. In her role, she found herself providing resources to people in need and wanted to have a greater impact through the Wellness Navigator Network. An avid traveler, silversmith and foodie, you can generally find MJ on resort property or out walking her dogs.
Natalie came to Big Sky the summer of 2019 from New York City. During the years she has spent here she has seen her friends go through ups and downs, and has experienced challenges herself. “Big Sky life can be hard, and sometimes we can’t make it alone. I want be a part of a project seeking to support and uplift our neighbors so that we all can continue to laugh and make merry in this beautiful place.”
Nielsen works for Kissell Construction and Property Services. After hopping around in his twenties–from traveling around the world to completing a BA in anthropology to spending a year in Asia–he moved to Big Sky over six years ago and loves calling Montana home. When he’s not working you’ll probably find him mountain biking, hiking, or truck camping in the summer, then traveling in the fall. Winters are for snowboarding and touring. He also loves a good book, and has a passion for writing. Nielsen wants to make a difference in Big Sky, and is excited about all of the existing and developing resources and volunteer opportunities available to our community.
Philip Hanna is an Operations Manager for the Housekeeping Department at Yellowstone Club and joined the Navigator Network to learn about more resources in the area and gain more knowledge to help those around him in the community. Philip has lived in the greater Bozeman/Big Sky area since 2012, working in such places as Yellowstone National Park, Big Sky Resort, & now Yellowstone Club. Philip has always enjoyed helping those around him and is the dad of two great children. He enjoys skiing, fly fishing, and spending time with his family.
Robert McCormick is the Culinary Director of the Yellowstone Club. Robert believes that community & human connection are keys to thriving in modern times. During the 30-year span of Robert’s professional journey, he found himself seeking resources to help make small improvements in all aspects of his life. The Navigator Network has proven to be a way to share these resources with the greater Big Sky community. Robert has been married for 10 years and has three children. Endurance sports, travel and family time are a few things that keep Robert grounded.
Sarah Gaither Bivins
Sarah Gaither Bivins
In October 2013, Sarah answered an ad in the Lone Peak Lookout and became the first and only employee of the Big Sky Community Food Bank. It was a part-time gig, so she supplemented by working for Big Sky Resort’s front desk and ski school, Wildwood Nursery, All Saints in Big Sky and a refugee support non-profit called USA Hello. Sarah also serves on several committees including the Big Sky Chamber, the Big Sky Housing Trust, the Big Sky Chapel, SNO, Navigator Network and Gallatin Refugee Connections. After 6 years in Big Sky condo hopping, Sarah now lives in Bozeman with her husband, Kurt. They love to travel, camp, float, stomp along to live music and play on the Smokey Bear Softball team.
Seth has lived in Big Sky for sixteen years. “Being part of the culture and boots on the ground, I am easily approached individuals. I have seen the highs and lows in Big Sky”. Seth currently serves on the Big Sky Food Bank Advisory Board, and is also involved with the American Legion. “Being a combat veteran, I see the need for a mental health initiative and greater awareness. I feel the Be Well Big Sky initiative has helped to reach a diverse part of our community.”
Shannon is the behavioral health program officer at Yellowstone Club Community Foundation and values a collaborative and community-centered approach to health and wellness. Shannon’s roots are in South Dakota and has also lived in a few random places including Okinawa, Japan, Utah, Alabama and now calls Montana home. Her background is in mind-body wellness and community health, and she is also a certified yoga instructor. You can find Shannon volunteering with search and rescue and Southwest Montana Mountain Bike Association and enjoying all that the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem has to offer.
Suzy Sensbach is Director of Learning at Montage Big Sky, where she is responsible for the training and supporting of associates. Suzy moved to Big Sky in 2019 and brought her passion for wellness efforts through workplace and community. Suzy spent 22 years in education in Connecticut where she worked in the classroom, on outdoor education trips and on social emotional learning initiatives. Her experience in the recovery community has shown her the many ways in which support, transparency and effective programs can change lives and hopes to help others experience positive changes.
Do you want to be a referral source for your community? Find out how to become a navigator!