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Contact: Ariel Overstreet, Media Director for the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame & Western Heritage Center
(406) 930-1317

Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame project achieves major milestone in hiring of Director of Finance and Marketing Firm

Wolf Point – Today, Christy Stensland, Executive Director of the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame & Western Heritage Center (MCHF&WHC), announced the hiring of finance and marketing experts to help the MCHF&WHC on its path to completion.

“We are delighted to announce exciting progress through the hiring of Aaron Lyles as our Director of Finance and the firm Beargrass Marketing, led by Michele Reese, to provide leadership to our marketing efforts,” said Stensland.

Lyles grew up on a ranching and farming operation near Big Timber, Mont. Because of his background and appreciation of Montana's heritage, Lyles was a natural fit with the MCHF&WHC, Stensland said.

“The Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center not only seeks to preserve and honor our rich heritage, but also to pass on to future generations those values that have forged who we are today,” Lyles said. “It is an honor to add my iron to the fire and join this growing community of fellow Montanans interested in creating a lasting tribute to Montana’s cowboy way of life, Native American culture and Western heritage.”

Prior to becoming involved with the project, Lyles was impressed by the authenticity espoused by the mission of the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame & Western Heritage Center.

“The Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame is not here to glorify or honor the Hollywood version of the American West,” he said. “It’s here to honor the real, working families—the people who made a daily difference in our communities and those who have left a Montana legacy that is noteworthy.”

Since being designated by Montana State Legislature in February 2003 as the Official Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame, organizers have witnessed a groundswell of support from all corners of the state, Lyles said.

“Whether you are in Baker, Kalispell or some destination in between, the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame is your hometown organization working to honor those in your community that have contributed to who we are today,” he said. “If you are interested in learning more or would like to become involved, please consider my door always open and the invitation to participate always extended.”

Lyles joins the MCHF&WHC after working for five years as an executive with the Boy Scouts of America where he focused on volunteer cultivation and fundraising with the Tennessee and Montana Councils. Prior to serving as an executive with the Boy Scouts, Lyles put his music business administration degree to work as an audio engineer for Belmont University in Nashville where he worked with many notable recording artists from George Straight to Bob Seger. As Director of Finance, Lyles will develop and implement funding strategies to support the MCHF&WHC.

Lyles lives in Bozeman with his wife, Terri. He can be reached at ALyles@montanacowboyfame.com or (406) 600-8231.

            Aaron Lyles - MCHF Director of Finance            
           Aaron Lyles - MCHF Director of Finance

Michele Reese of Beargrass Marketing in Whitefish, Mont. will work alongside Lyles to advance the goals of the MCHF&WHC.

“Michele’s years of experience in building destinations and tourism marketing will be vital to our ability to accomplish our important mission,” Stensland said.

Reese is a recognized expert in tourism and travel-related industries. Before starting Beargrass Marketing in 1991, Reese was executive vice president of marketing and sales for Walt Disney Attractions and Disneyland Resorts.

“Working with the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame & Western Heritage Center is a thrill for me,” Reese said. “Montana has a rich cultural history that spans generations, regions and founding industries, and still resonates in the independence and family values of our people today. We are excited about the interest already emerging as we begin to share the vision for how the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame & Western Heritage Center will look, the varied stories we will tell and the people we will honor.”

Michele is a sixth generation Montanan who lives in Whitefish with her husband Dennis Foley. She can be reached at MReese@montanacowboyfame.com or (406) 862-8746.

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