The Whitehall Ledger - Serving Southern Jefferson County in the Great State of Montana

By Jack H. Smith
Whitehall Ledger 

Governor Elect Gianforte selects Nieskens for COVID-19 Task Force


November 18, 2020

Whitehall Superintendent Hannah Nieskens has been named to Governor-Elect Greg Gianforte's COVID-19 Task Force.

The 21-member task force is comprised of healthcare experts, business leaders, school administrators, law enforcement, and local and tribal leaders.

Nieskens said the members are from all different backgrounds and will start meeting in the coming week where they will serve to advise and recommend COVID-19 related matters for the new Governor.

Nieskens was both surprised and honored when Governor-elect and current U.S. Representative Gianforte asked her to serve on his incoming COVID-19 task force.

"I will offer whatever help I can to problem solve the mitigation of both the health and economic impacts that COVID-19 has on our state. I have previously worked with Representative Gianforte several times in DC on veteran and caregiver legislation when I served as an Elizabeth Dole Foundation Fellow. I also had the opportunity to meet with him concerning education policy when I was a finalist for the National Principal of the Year award," she said.

This task force will work with state and local health officials to provide recommendations to the Governor-elect on how to best manage the COVID-19 crisis.

"Montana faces a public health crisis and economic crisis as a result of COVID-19 – which I trust the people of Montana to take seriously. It remains my top priority to work together to protect the most vulnerable among us, while also safely and fully opening back up our economy," Governor-elect Gianforte said. "This task force will be indispensable to me in tailoring a plan unique to the Treasure State that will promote both the health and economic well-being of Montanans."

Members of Governor-elect Gianforte's COVID-19 Task Force are below:

• Kurt G. Alme – U.S. Attorney for the District of Montana (Billings)

• Don Beeman – Member of the Bozeman Health Board of Directors; former VP of U.S. Commercial Operations for Merck's Vaccine Division (Bozeman)

• Father Patrick Beretta – Parish priest at St. Patrick and Immaculate Conception Churches in Butte; Chaplain at Montana Technological University; Member of the spiritual team at St. James Healthcare (Butte)

• Daniel Bierschwale – Executive Director of Big Sky Resort Area District (Big Sky)

• Dax Cetraro – Owner of Village Inn Pizza, Grand Plaza Casino, Rialto Bar (Helena)

• Greg Chilcott – Ravalli County Commissioner; Trustee for Montana Association of Counties (Hamilton)

• Heidi M. Duncan, MD, FAAFP – Medical Director at the Billings Clinic (Billings)

• Wayne Leiker – VP of Refining Operations at Calumet Refinery (Great Falls)

• Liz Moore – Executive Director of the Montana Nonprofit Association (Helena)

• Hannah Nieskins – Superintendent of Whitehall; 2018 Montana Principal of the Year & 2019 NASSP Principal of the Year finalist (Whitehall)

• Rick Norby – President of Montana League of Cities and Towns; Mayor of Sidney (Sidney)

• Todd O'Hair – President and CEO of the Montana Chamber of Commerce (Helena)

File Photo


• Adjutant General Matthew Quinn – Commander of Montana Air National Guard; currently leads Governor Bullock's Coronavirus Task Force (Helena)

• Sheryl Scheafer – President of Montana Parent Teachers Association (Billings)

• Dan Schmidt – Superintendent of Poplar Schools (Poplar)

• Jesse Slaughter – Cascade County Sheriff (Great Falls)

• Karen Sullivan, MA – Butte-Silver Bow Public Health Officer (Butte)

• Randy Swenson – Owner of TenderNest Assisted Living (Billings)

• Cherie Taylor – CEO of Northern Rockies Medical Center (Cut Bank)

• Steve Wahrlich – Owner of Best Western Plus Clocktower Inn & Stella's Kitchen and Bakery (Billings)

• Kaci Wallette – Ft. Peck Tribal Executive Board member and nurse (Ft. Peck)


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