Join the Missoula Downtown Association for the Annual Awards Banquet, on Jan. 25, 2024, at the Holiday Inn.
This year's theme is Let’s “Paint the Town Red” as we recognize those who make our Downtown the best it can be!
Since 1986, the Missoula Downtown Association has recognized and honored individuals who have given back to the Missoula community through service to Downtown and the organizations that work to make Downtown the best it can be.
January 25, 2024
Holiday Inn Downtown Missoula
Downtown Business of the Year
Missoula Makers Collective is nominated for 2023 Downtown Business of the Year for their unwavering commitment to both supporting local entrepreneurs and fostering a sense of community. Through their dedication to promoting local, sustainable goods and creating connections between generations, they serve as a shining example for other cities facing challenges from big box stores. Their unique blend of preserving Missoula’s character and fueling entrepreneurial vitality makes them the epitome of what makes our city great.
Missoula Compost Collection is nominated for 2023 Business of the Year for enabling sustainable Downtown events by facilitating easy composting of food and beverage waste. Founded by entrepreneur Sean Doty, this local business not only influences event practices but also contributes to the growing trend of compost disposal in restaurants and downtown establishments.
Downtown Employee of the Year
Robert Rink of Cranky Sam Public House: A valued member of Cranky Sam Public House since its early days, Rob wears many hats at the pub, notably excelling as a bartender with his warmth, humor, and sincere care for customers. Beyond his exceptional service, Rob actively contributes to the community, exemplified by volunteering for the Montana Brewers Association and going above and beyond to support his coworkers and maintain a positive team culture at Cranky Sam.
Jon Jensen of the Downtown Missoula Partnership: A dedicated employee responsible for watering Downtown Missoula’s flower baskets for the past 7 years, has been a valuable and independent member of the Downtown Missoula Partnership team. Serving on the city’s cleaning staff for over two decades, Jon’s joyful and dependable presence has made him a cherished member of the Downtown community.
Micah Marino of Rocky Mountain Rigging: Micah has served as the stage manager for River City Roots Fest for two years, showcasing his exceptional work ethic, positive attitude, and unwavering commitment to perfection. Revered by all associated with the Main Stage, Micah significantly contributes to the event’s professionalism, earning him a well-deserved nomination despite his once-a-year downtown presence.
Jean Zosel of Garden City Harvest: Jean, the dedicated executive director at Garden City Harvest for 12 years, stands out as a caring and thoughtful leader who navigates the organization through challenges, program expansions, and community needs. Recognized for her fierce leadership, Jean takes her responsibilities seriously, ensuring Garden City Harvest remains an essential part of Missoula’s food security net, while also offering humor and support to her team during tough days.
Volunteer of the Year:
Steve Kemple: a dedicated Downtown resident and retired physician, has volunteered for five years, actively contributing to the festive atmosphere by helping hang holiday garlands and Grizzly Flags on Downtown buildings. Beyond his seasonal contributions, Steve also cares for the city’s trees, volunteering to water them, and remains an engaged community member, supporting the Downtown Missoula Partnership as a donor and a new member of the MDA.
Cerise McLean and Bret Carlson: Cerise, a longtime MDA volunteer for BrewFests, stood out for her joyful presence and positive interactions at events. Alongside her partner Bret, they volunteered at numerous MDA events, particularly excelling at Downtown ToNight, contributing to the success of the summer in Caras Park by ensuring smooth operations at the wristband tent and creating positive experiences for attendees.
Mason Parker of Home ReSource: Mason has significantly enhanced the River City Roots Festival Planning Committee, bringing new energy and tenacity to their green and sustainable initiatives. His impactful research led to the elimination of plastic beer cups, resulting in a substantial reduction in trash and the highest percentage of recycled and composted materials ever achieved, showcasing Mason’s outstanding leadership in heading up the festival’s green efforts.
Teresa Drew of Good Food Store: Teresa’s enthusiastic involvement in both the Membership and Marketing Committees, coupled with her exceptional contributions during the Membership BBQ, demonstrates Teresa’s outstanding commitment and expertise, making her a truly deserving nominee for her significant contributions to the DMP.
Downtowner of the Year:
Trisha Drobeck of Run Wild Missoula: Trisha has devoted her incredible skills and tireless efforts to enhance Downtown Missoula by providing consistent running, walking, and educational opportunities that foster community connection. Her daily commitment extends beyond running programs and events, reaching organizations like The Center, EmpowerMT, and Missoula Food Bank, demonstrating Trisha’s dedication to inclusivity, accessibility, equity, and fun, all while inspiring others, fostering young female athletes’ leadership skills, and contributing to her vision of making Missoula a place for everyone.
Heidi Starrett of Missoula Broadcasting: Heidi generously invests her time and talent in the community, serving on multiple boards including MDA, Friends of the Children, Arts Missoula, and the JRPR Coordinating Council. In her role as an account executive for Missoula Broadcasting, she has supported numerous Downtown businesses and nonprofits with marketing and communications, contributing to various MDA committees and volunteering for numerous events, making her an exemplary candidate for the Dan Cederberg Downtowner of the Year.
Aaron Wilson of the City of Missoula: a dedicated transportation planner for the City for over a decade, spearheaded the successful acquisition of a $25-million-dollar federal transportation grant last year, marking one of the largest-ever investments in Downtown Missoula’s core. His leadership in securing the RAISE grant for transformative projects, including two-way streets on Front & Main, a three-lane Higgins Street with separated bike lanes, and improved riverfront access, has significantly contributed to the enhancement of Downtown infrastructure without relying on property or business owners for funding.
Board Member of the Year:
Bob Burns of Stockman Bank: Bob has done a great job leading the MDA this past year. He leads by example by consistently showing up, exercising leadership, volunteering and just making Downtown Missoula a better place. His will be big shoes to fill moving forward.
Byran Hickey of Big Dipper: Bryan’s induction to the MDA Board this year has been characterized by a strong commitment and sense of responsibility, actively participating in committees such as Out to Lunch, Holidays on Higgins, and the Annual Awards Banquet. Beyond his official roles, Bryan consistently goes above and beyond, generously contributing ice cream and offering his services in various capacities, setting a positive example for board members and earning sincere gratitude for his dedicated and supportive presence.