Entryway to the Center

Our Board

The Culture of The Converge Foundation

The Converge Foundation was born out of a citizens group that has collaborated with Missoula Parks and Recreation on a community center for Missoula for over two decades. Over the years the membership varied somewhat, but the drive to better the community never wavered. With no formal structure, this citizens group operated on a consensus basis. Ideas were openly shared and discussed, always with the goal of doing our best given the time, resources, and context we worked within.

The culture of collaboration that developed in those formative decades carried over into the character of The Converge Foundation.  While a formal administrative structure was established to meet the business needs of the organization, it did not change how we function as a group. Even as a citizens’ group, we recognized that everyone has skills and interests that contribute to the outcome. We also respect that we all have a life outside of volunteer work that needs to be nurtured and cared for if we are going to be able to sustain our efforts over the long term.

Our business process continues to be one of collaboration and consensus. As our organization grows, we continue to strive to involve the full board of directors and volunteers, to the best of their ability and availability, in setting the course.

The culture of The Converge Foundation extends to how we engage with the community. Over the years of visiting with individuals and organizations, we are continually reminded of the amazing community we live in. We have grown to understand that our role as representatives of The Converge Foundation, as well as members of the Missoula community, is one of complementing existing efforts by extending the hand of collaboration outside of our own organization. Raise all boats. Much like a community center, we come together to share our experiences and perhaps discover the unexpected opportunities before us.

Michael (Mike) Sweet – Chair/Director

If I were going to create my own job title it would be “community advocate.”  There is power in collaboration, and we achieve positive change when we work from a strong sense of community. I have learned this by working with teams of individuals to establish one statewide professional non-profit and three local non-profits. As a resident of Missoula since 1970, I have experienced its growth and changes. Being part of our community dialog around a central gathering space since 2000, has brought forth a diverse collection of ideas. The Currents Center for Recreation and Creativity and the work of The Converge Foundation fulfill a longtime desire to have a space for Missoulians by Missoulians to recreate, create, share in life’s experiences, and continue to know one another. When not engaging with the work of The Converge Foundation, you will find me chatting with others over coffee, international folk or contra dancing, playing my accordion, baking or exploring a new recipe, gardening, playing with the dog, reading a new book, running the trails, or kayaking Montana’s lakes and rivers.

Amy Ragsdale -Treasurer/Director

I was motivated to join the board of TCF to be part of creating a place – the Currents Center — where I might meet people unlike myself. I was lucky as a UM dance professor to travel abroad to meet people with different ideas and cultural backgrounds. I’ve found this harder to do at home. In an era of divisiveness, I’m excited to be supporting a place where we can meet each other in ways that circumvent labels – at the monthly contra dance, drumming class or futsal game. I was attracted to Missoula 40 years ago for its strong sense of community. I’m excited about the possibility of a place where we can all gather to help maintain that commitment to this place and to each other.

I became involved in the drive to build the CCRC over a decade ago, because of my desire as a dance company director (Headwaters Dance) for an intimate, well-outfitted, affordable theater where my company could perform; inexpensive enough to rent for more than one weekend, thereby helping to build an audience. The CCRC would offer this and spaces for so many other activities – pickleball, hip hop, meditation, stretch class, drinking coffee, games… This one-stop shopping for a great variety of activities would also have helped my dance company, as it creates the synergy for people to discover new interests they might not seek out otherwise.

Tarn Ream -Secretary/Director

I was fortunate to grow up in Missoula and be able to be involved in many activities in the community and in our incredible surroundings. Yes, I spent hours rehearsing in the basement caverns of a church for Missoula Children’s Theatre productions, hanging out at the fair with my 4-H animals, creating riding arenas for the Pony Club, and I how could I forget (tried to?) performing 4-H plays at the Orchard Homes Country Life Club. I was fortunate that our schools had free opportunities to be part of a choir, band, orchestra, basketball, volleyball, and track team. I was able to join soccer and the Missoula Youth Symphony. All these amazing activities–yet, even back then, if a group of rowdy teenagers with a loud band wanted to play for the public, they had a difficult time finding a space to perform (and for their friends to dance—that would be me!). I’m still here. I’d like to think I’m a rowdy not-teenager with a loud band looking for an accessible community space where we can all engage in the amazing activities that Missoula people want to offer their fellow Missoulians. Please join us!

Ashley Zhinin – Director

I first came to Missoula for college and, like so many others, found myself staying because it’s an amazing place to live. I studied dance in school and as such have always found a home in the Missoula performing arts community, but the more time I spend here and the more people I meet I’m somehow endlessly surprised by the volume of awesome things going on and amazing people making them happen. So, when my former dance professor, Amy Ragsdale, approached me about the CCRC I was immediately intrigued. Yes! How does Missoula not yet have a true, central community gathering space where information, ideas and experiences can be shared? I am pretty tapped into my micro-communities of dance and interior design plus, as an extension of my husband’s activities, biking and running, but then it just kind of stops. We have so many wonderful spaces that satisfy niche needs, but the idea of having a safe and accessible space that is ours is something I’m excited to be a part of.

Rachael Caldwell – Director

Sports and recreation helped me find community when I moved to Missoula nearly two decades ago. Whether through volleyball, softball, time on the river, or dance classes, the people I met along the way helped shape my experience and foster a love for this town. I joined the TCF board to create more opportunities like I had for a wider range of people. I believe the CCRC can be a communal space unlike any other we currently have in Missoula, and I’m excited to help bring that vision to life. My day job is Producer on the Marketing Team at onX, but I have a broad background in marketing, design, non-profit communications, writing, and facilitation. When not working or volunteering, I spend the majority of time with my husband, young son, and our dog exploring all that Montana (and Missoula) has to offer.

Rosie Ayers – Director (currently on leave-of-absence)

Rosie Seitz Ayers found her passion for theater early and grew up on stage at Grandstreet Theater in Helena, Montana. She went on to earn her BFA in theater and her MA in Integrated Arts in Education at the University of Montana in Missoula where she has been raising her children with her partner, Michael, for the last 23 years. She comes with an abundance of experience, acting, directing, producing, and teaching with Montana Repertory Theatre/MRM, Missoula Community Theatre, Montana Actors Theatre, Grandstreet Theatre, Montana Shakespeare Company, both University of Montana and Carroll College theater departments, and several other regional arts organizations. She’s taught SPARK! Arts for 10 years and with her comedy partner, Teresa Waldorf, at their annual summer camp. Most recently,Rosie has been touring with the one person show, Every Brilliant Thing. She is passionate about arts advocacy and has been working as the coordinator for Project Tomorrow Montana through United Way of Missoula County.