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Big Sky 55+ Statewide Conference

March 21-22, 2024 
Billings, MT

Thank you to all who attended and to our panelists and speakers for a successful conference!

Thank you also to the Northern Hotel staff for such excellent customer service!

Gather with Big Sky 55+ members, leaders, allies and friends for two days of stimulating, engaging ideas and conversations to help us build a better Montana for all. Learn, Inspire, Be Inspired!


Betsy Gaines Quammen, Bozeman-based author currently touring with her newly released book, True West: Myth & Mending on the Far Side of America


Alex Lawson, Executive Director of Social Security Works will speak on  "Exposing Myths and Zombie Lies about Social Security"



Engaging our 55+ Superpowers!

The 55+ generation has gifts and structural power that can be shared with younger generations. We will kick off the conference with a panel and group discussion on generational Synergy and Power. The panel will also discuss the cultural perspectives of Native Americans on the role of elders in traditional cultures.


  • Crow Tribal Elder, former lawmaker and Big Sky 55+ Board of Directors member Angela Russell of Lodge Grass

  • Education leader and former State Senator and Great Falls City Commissioner Mary Sheehy Moe

  • Forward Montana! Billings Organizer Pari Kemmick

  • Northern Plains Resources Council Staff Director Maggie Gordon

  • Former Helena City Administrator, Dennis Tayler

  • Moderated by Pat Sweeney


Fair Taxes Now!: Navigating and Challenging Montana’s increasingly tilted tax system

Taxes are important -- they pay for things our communities rely on. But the tax system has become increasingly unfair, benefiting the wealthy and large corporations while saddling others with higher shares of the taxes. Learn the context, get clarity, and learn how to talk about this sticky but very important issue. 


  • MT Budget and Policy Center Dir. of Research Rose Bender,

  • Former Director of the MT Dept. of Revenue Dan Bucks,

  • Gallatin County Commissioner Zach Brown,

  • MT Fed. of Public Employees President Amanda Curtis,

  • MT State Representative Jonathan Karlen

  • Moderated by Jon Ellingson


Keeping Healthcare Affordable in Montana

Medicare, Medicaid unwinding and expansion, prescription drug pricing, and the effects of healthcare policies on rural, Native American, senior, and other marginalized communities. 


  • Senior State Campaigns Manager at Healthcare for America Now, Molly Moody

  • Montana State Rep. SJ Howell

  • Chief Health Officer at the Native American Development Corporation, Cora Neumann

  • Moderated by Montana State Rep. Sharon Stewart Peregoy


Montana's Changing Media Landscape and Navigating Misinformation

Explore the current landscape of print, online, radio, and broadcast journalism, and learn about the rise of misinformation and disinformation and how to combat it.


  • Daily Montanan Editor Darrell Ehrlick,

  • Boulder Monitor Owner/Publisher Keith Hammonds,

  • Middlefork Strategies Deputy Director Nick Lockridge

  • Montana journalist, podcaster and author Russell Rowland

  • Yellowstone Public Radio News Director Jackie Coffin

  • Moderated by Ken Toole


No Wrong Door! Aging with Dignity and Grace in Montana 

How are Montana's long-term care and community-based service providers faring one year after the 2023 legislature? Learn more about best practices in serving aging Montanans in their homes. 


  • Valley View Nursing Home Administrator Wes Thompson,

  • MT State Senator Chris Pope,

  • Great Falls City Commissioner and Veterans’ advocate Shannon Wilson

  • Big Sky 55+ Executive Director Margie MacDonald

  • Moderated by Barbara Archer

TIMELINE (subject to change):

Thursday, March 21:

Registration opens - 11:00am (Lunch on your own)

Welcome Message - 1:00pm

Engaging our 55+ Superpowers! - 1:20pm

Breakout Session - 2:25pm

Fair Taxes Now! - 3:30pm

No-host bar - 6:00pm

Banquet Dinner - 6:45pm

Presentations and Betsy Gaines Quammen Keynote - 7:30


Friday, March 22:

Good morning message - 9am

** Friday Check out 11AM NO LATE CHECK OUTS **

Montana Health Care - 9:15am

Montana’s Changing Media Landscape - 10:30am

Alex Lawson and Lunch - NOON

Aging with Dignity and Grace - 1:15pm

Breakout Session - 2:00pm

Plenary Wrap Up and Farewell - 2:30 pm


The Historic Northern Hotel in Downtown Billings

Enjoy free parking and lots of downtown restaurants, a brewery trail, shops, theaters, museums and galleries. 


Please call the Northern Hotel directly at 406-867-6767 to reserve a hotel room. Make your reservations ASAP to guarantee your spot!

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