Our highly-skilled team provides the training and technical assistance needed for Prevention Specialists across the state to fulfill their role of reducing youth and adult substance use and abuse.

Each RTAL provides targeted training and technical assistance to community-based prevention specialists to address problems associated with underage drinking, adult binge drinking, marijuana abuse, methamphetamine use and other emerging substance misuse and abuse priorities, with an emphasis on at-risk populations of youth on probation, youth in foster care and youth on reservations. RTAL’s provide guidance in the areas of program development, quality assurance and data tracking, prevention workforce development, cultural competence training, and program evaluation. They assist Prevention Specialists through planning, coordination and collaboration of identifying and prioritizing community-based needs, identifying available resources and gaps in services, as well as implementing effective strategies and evaluation plans to address community needs. This regionalized system has provided additional support to communities in need with the addition of more localized technical assistance providers.

Montana Health Planning Regions

Each of the five Health Planning Regions are allocated a full-time Regional Technical Assistance Leader (RTAL) position. Eastern and Southwest regions are shared, while North Central, South Central and Northwest are each covered by one individual. There is an additional full-time RTAL position covering all 7 Tribes in Montana.

The RTALs oversee both Block and Partnership for Success Grant Prevention Specialists.

Region Designations:
1 – Eastern Region
2 – North Central Region
3 – South Central Region
4 – Southwest Region
5 – Northwest Region

and additonally 
6 – Tribal regions designated TA

REgional leaders


Nicole Hackley
Nicole moved to Western Montana at a young age and after attending college in Bozeman, began her career as a juvenile probation officer in Idaho. After moving back to Eastern Montana in 2009, she started working in the substance abuse prevention field and continues that to this day from her home in Hamilton. Her family includes husband Patrick and two sons, Hunter and Conner. She enjoys cooking, baking, reading, gardening and spending family time outside exploring the mountains. Her favorite spot in Montana is up the West Fork of the Bitterroot Valley. In her career of Prevention, Nicole’s greatest accomplishments have been implementing nearly two dozen alcohol policies at retail establishments and county governments, and creating a sustainable infrastructure and funding for Eastern MT Community Mental Health Center to continue substance abuse prevention in Eastern Montana.


Jenny Fuller

A Montana native, born in the shadow of the Mission Mountains and raised in the Flathead Valley, Jenny thought to follow a career of agricultural education and research.  When life took her to Bozeman for college she stayed in those mountains for nearly twelve years before finding her way to the prairies of Eastern Montana.  She has worked in justice and prevention for seven years now and shares her passion for adventure with her partner, Bruce and daughters, Katey and Britany.  Jenny enjoys exploring new places, cooking, playing with her golden retriever and laughing with her family and looks forward to summertime fun on Fort Peck Lake.  During her time in prevention, Jenny has enjoyed collaborating with community partners and seeing the dedication and commitment to prevention that she feels, reflected back by those amazing souls she works with.


Sara Mahoney

Sara was born and raised on a large family farm in South Central Montana and pride’s herself on being a true Montana girl. She enjoys hunting big game and roughing it in the wilderness one day and dressing up in heels and dresses for special occasions the next. Sara and her husband Ben enjoy camping all over Montana with their two children, Madelyn and Jack. Sara has worked in Prevention since 2008 and has experience providing Substance Abuse Prevention Services in all of South Central Montana’s 11 counties. If she isn’t working in Prevention, you can probably find her at the gym or in a coffee shop reading a good book


Coleen Smith
Coleen is a native Montanan, growing up in the Bitterroot Valley (Hamilton). After leaving the beautiful state for 20 years to live in the 4 corners of the U.S. – Alaska, Florida, Massachusetts, and multiple places in between, she returned to Helena 20 years ago. She enjoys hiking, golfing, boating, and singing with the Helena Symphony Chorale. She has two daughters and son-in-laws, three step kids and a step grandson. Prior to landing in substance abuse prevention seven years ago, she worked in public relations and program development. Her happy place is Glacier Park. Coleen’s greatest accomplishment in prevention is taking Youth Connections from one part time employee to a staff of eight, surviving virtually no grant funding.
Laura Cross

Laura and her family moved to Montana from Colorado and love everything Montana has to offer. Laura holds a BS in Organizational Management and a  Masters Degree in Counseling.  With a firm belief that prevention is a critical piece to the Behavioral Health community.  She loves connecting communities to resources and tearing down silos. She has been working in prevention in Montana for 6 years. Her favorite destination in Montana is Glacier National Park. Her family loves hiking and dodging grizzly bears. Her passions include ice fishing, hiking or camping.

Her greatest prevention accomplishment is bringing the regional Block grant contract to Butte Cares and setting up that structure. She was so excited to be part of bringing this prevention funding to an organization that’s primary focus is prevention. Seeing how that helps those funds go directly to prevention and the focus be on hiring and training the best prevention specialists possible is so exciting.


Brandee Tyree

Brandee is a native of Montana. She moved back home to raise a family after exploring California, Colorado and Washington. Brandee has worked in the prevention field for almost 20 years, starting her career specializing in domestic violence prevention. The last 13 years she has been in underage substance abuse prevention. She has two children. Brandee enjoys hiking, mountain biking, spending time with family at the lake and going on adventures. Her favorite spot in Montana is on the lake or deep in the mountains. Brandee’s greatest accomplishment in prevention is helping to create the Prescription Drug Task Force in Missoula, MT and becoming an RTAL for Youth Connections.


Barbara Bessette
Barbara lives in Great Falls and has lived in Montana all her life. She is an avid barrel racer, has two horses: Lola and Macy, and has a two toy Aussies: Chute and Julz. When not riding horses or rodeoing (which takes up a lot of her time), Barbara likes to read, run and enjoy the outdoors. Barbara has worked in prevention for 15 years including domestic violence prevention, obesity prevention, and ATOD prevention. She was awarded KRTV’s “5 Under 35” in 2018 for her work in the prevention field in Cascade County. She doesn’t have a favorite place in the state, rather loves all of Montana, including the mountains and the plains. Her greatest prevention accomplishment is helping to bring the Montana prevention field into the 21st century and working with the RTALs to make prevention a top priority for the state.