Charlie Beaton opened Big Dipper Ice Cream on the Hip Strip in 1995 and has grown the business from a simple wholesale manufacturer into a significant retail outlet, mobile vending operation, and a franchise with additional outlets in Billings and Helena. Big Dipper has garnered national attention in multiple publications and was selected in 2012 as the Best Ice Cream in America by USA Today and Good Morning America. Most recently Big Dipper was selected as the sole ice cream product sold by Xanterra, the management company for both Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks. A native of Helena, Beaton earned a B.S. in Business Administration in 1991 from the University of Montana. He was a financial services agent with Prudential for two years before becoming an entrepreneur. Beaton has also served in leadership roles with the Missoula Food Bank, the Hip Strip Society and the State of Montana Small Business & Downtown Network. Charlie is married to Barbie, and they have two daughters, both students at Hellgate High.
Lynda Brown is the principle and owner of Lynda Brown Human Resource Management Consulting in Missoula. As an adjunct instructor in the School of Business at the University of Montana she teaches classes in the Management and Marketing Department and in the MBA program. Brown has over thirty years of HR management experience with employers in Missoula including the University of Montana, St. Patrick Hospital, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and Western Montana Clinic. Brown has served on the MDA board from 2013 to 2019 and is in her third year as a member of the Downtown Missoula Partnership board. Brown previously served on the United Way Board of Directors, and she volunteers with local government and other non-profit agencies assisting with human resource issues. A native of Pittsburgh, Penn., Brown has a Ph.D. from Florida State University, a M.Ed. from the University of Oklahoma, and a B.S. from the College of William and Mary. She is a regular bicycle commuter, an avid skier, endurance rider, sailor, and a spinning instructor. She is married to Bill Brown, DVM and owner of Western Montana Equine.
A native of Billings, Mont., Ashley Larkin has been with First Montana Bank since 2012 and has been promoted twice, most recently to Commercial Loan Officer. She earned a B.S. in Business Finance from the University of Montana and has served as a volunteer for Downtown event and committees for several years.
Scott Stearns was born in Missoula and graduated from the University of Notre Dame. After receiving his law degree from The University of Montana School of Law, he worked in the Missoula County Attorney’s Office as a Deputy County Attorney and also served in the Montana National Guard as an Infantry Officer. He practiced law with Dorsey & Whitney in Minneapolis before moving back to Missoula in 2003 to join the Boone Karlberg law firm. In addition to serving on the Board for the Missoula Business Improvement District, Scott served as a Board Member on the Montana Board of Public Education, the Board of Trustees for Community Medical Center (past chairman), and the Board of Directors for the United Way of Missoula County (past president).