About MGS

The Montana Gerontology Society (MGS) was formed in 1982. A group of professionals, volunteers and educators founded the organization in order to provide opportunities for individuals interested in gerontology to share common concerns and ideas. MGS is governed by a 12 member Board of Directors elected by the membership.

The Montana Gerontology Society is dedicated to enhancing professional development and understanding among providers of services, seniors, volunteers, researchers, educators, students, and others associated with the field of aging. MGS has a membership of over 150 individuals.

Objectives of MGS

  • To stimulate and encourage networking among persons in the field of aging
  • To develop regional training for professionals, paraprofessionals, and the general public in the field of aging
  • To present an annual conference and membership meeting that brings together national and state leaders in the field of aging
  • To recognize significant involvement with MGS

Board of Directors

Holly Garcia, President

Holly Garcia, BSHA, earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Health Administration from Montana State University Billings. She has worked for Billings Clinic since 2002 and has been with the Center for Clinical Translational Research since 2004. Mrs. Garcia’s healthcare background includes a variety of work experience in both Health Information Management and Research, including contract management of numerous state and federally funded projects/studies.

Laurie Miller, President-Elect

Laurie Miller has worked as a registered nurse in Montana since 1990. She has enjoyed working in various roles in healthcare throughout her career ranging from acute and long term care nursing, to community based services, and healthcare management. Her passion has always been working with and advocating for seniors and individuals with disabilities. Laurie is currently an active member of the Montana Alzheimer’s and Dementia workgroup, the Montana Gerontology Society and the Alzheimer’s Association Montana Chapter Leadership Board. Currently she works for ResCare HomeCare as a branch manager. When not working, Laurie and her husband, Tim, dedicate much of their time to their busy family which includes very active parents, four children and their spouses, and ten grandchildren.

Colleen Holmquist, Past President

Colleen Holmquist, RRT, R EEG T has a BS from the University of Montana in Health and Human Performance with a minor in Gerontology. She has worked as a Respiratory Therapist for more than 30 years, the last 20 at Community Medical Center in Missoula. Her specialty is Pulmonary Rehabilitation. She has served on the MGS board in the past as the student rep and as an at-large board member.

She loves working with older adults in part because she is becoming one faster than anticipated!

Colleen and her husband, Cary, have four children—one still in high school—and two delightful granddaughters. They live in Frenchtown and enjoy Western Montana’s rivers, lakes and mountains.

Sandy Gillitzer, Treasurer

Sandy Gillitzer, is a retired bookkeeper. She & her husband live in Park City on the Yellowstone River.  They have two sons living in Bozeman. Sandy enjoys spinning & weaving.  She is President of Park City Senior Citizens, where the meal site serves one meal a week to an average of forty people. Sandy worked as an accounting assistant for CTA Architects for 25 years and served as Administrative Assistant for the Montana Gerontology Society before coming on the board.  She has been active in conferences since 2004.

Connie Begger, Provider By-Laws

Connie Begger was born and raised in Western Montana, she has been a lifelong resident of the great state and has early childhood memories spent with grandparents. Advocacy has become one of her greatest life missions. She is a licensed realtor in MT with Select Property Brokers, specializing in senior real estate, senior downsizing, relocation and consulting with seniors and their families, on the best senior living, assisted living or memory care community that best fits their needs and level of care.  She is active with the Yellowstone County Elder Abuse Taskforce and Care Transitions Coalition, along with being the facilitator for the Billings Senior Coalition on Aging, chairperson for the Senior Sports and Arts Festival and Mulligans for Memories Golf Tournament (proceeds going to the Alzheimer’s Assoc) every year. As a Certified Senior Advisor, Connie has extensive knowledge about diseases most common in the elderly, Medicare rules and regulations, financial institutions directed toward seniors and their financial affairs, depression, abuse and grief.

Jeri Delys, At Large Communications

Jeri Delys holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with a minor in Communication from the University of Montana. Jeri has a background in Sales and Marketing, as well as Development. She is committed to her community, and is active in board and community service. When she is not at work, you will most likely find her training for triathlons, playing racquetball, continuing her training in martial arts, gardening, and spending time with her family and friends.

Jan Smith, At Large Membership

Jan Smith holds a B.S.in Business Administration – Computer Science Emphasis from Southern Colorado State College, Pueblo. Born and raised in Chicago, IL, she has lived in Billings for over 38 years. She is a former 18-year employee of St. Vincent Healthcare, where she worked in Senior Services for 8 years, and the Telehealth Department for 10 years.

Her passion for working with seniors led her to a position as Activities Director at an Assisted Living Facility, and then to work for Big Sky Senior Services since 2006, first as a Representative Payee Assistant with Prevention of Elder Abuse, and currently as the Volunteer Program Coordinator. Her interest in Alzheimer’s Disease and caregiving issues led her to become involved in the Montana Alzheimer’s/Dementia Work Group, which is currently in the process of developing a comprehensive Alzheimer’s/Dementia State Plan.

Jan has been involved in MGS since the early 1990’s, has served two terms on the Board, including the three-year President successions, and has co-chaired three Annual Conferences. She is the Co-Chair of the April 2016 Conference in Billings.

Aubrey Hancock, At Large Public Relations

Aubrey Hancock, MSW, SWLC, CDP, holds a Masters Degree in Social Work from the University of Montana and is currently undergoing supervision to prepare her license as an LCSW. Aubrey has a background in teaching, both children and adults and now focuses on providing support services to older adults and their families through her private business, Elder Tree. Through her business and volunteer activities, Aubrey focuses on supporting individuals and families confronting Alzheimer’s and other Dementias, as well as, promoting the health and well-being of older adults from pre-retirement to end-of-life.

Keith Anderson, University Representative

Keith A. Anderson, MSW, PhD, is associate professor and graduate program director in the School of Social Work at the University of Montana. He completed his doctoral education in gerontology at the University of Kentucky. Keith’s scholarship focuses on the health and well-being of older adults and their caregivers, improving quality of life in later life, informal helping networks, and end-of- life issues. He is also editor of the End of Life Care Series published by Columbia University Press. Prior to returning to academia, Keith practiced as a clinical social worker at the Washington Home, a nursing home and hospice in Washington, DC.

Maja Pedersen, Student Representative

Maja Pedersen, M.S., is a PhD candidate in Public Health at the University of Montana. Maja’s training is in physical education and health behavior intervention, and her research area is health promotion and chronic disease prevention/management for aging populations. She is currently a trainee for a research project exploring physical activity behavior among American Indian and Alaska Native older adults living in rural and tribal communities. Prior to starting in this PhD program, Maja was a diabetes educator and clinical exercise physiologist for cardiac rehabilitation programs in Alaska, Arizona, and Montana.