1

Missoula’s Jen Graff, formerly with MEP, steps in as director of Early Stage Montana

Jenni Graff, the former economic development director for the Missoula Economic Partnership, is stepping in as director of Early Stage Montana. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current file photo)

A Montana nonprofit working to grow technology start-ups across the state has named a new executive director and expanded its board of directors to help companies grow.

Jenni Graff, a University of Montana graduate who formerly worked with Missoula Economic Partnership, will serve as Early Stage Montana’s new director. Adam Gilbertson of Laurel and Dan Rausch of Sioux Falls will also join the organization’s board of directors.

Pat LaPointe, board president of Early Stage Montana and the managing director of Frontier Angels, said the additions will help expand and accelerate the organization’s mission.

“All three are successful leaders and ‘connectors’ in the tech community who will help us grow Montana’s tech ecosystem, create quality jobs in Montana communities, and diversify our economic foundations for the future,” he said.

Early Stage Montana aids technology start-ups in a push to create more jobs across the state. Since it’s founding in 2018, it has helped more than 70 new tech companies attract over $20 million in investment and create more than 50 new jobs, according to LaPointe.

Graff recently served as the founder of a professional recruiting firm based in Missoula, and previously held management positions at Providence Health System and Missoula Economic Partnership.

While at MEP, she worked with state and local agencies to bring more technology companies to Montana. She left MEP in 2018 to serve as project manager for 4Cast, a high-tech Israeli firm. 

The new board members also bring added experience to the organization. Gilbertson serves as executive vice president at RDO Equipment Co. while Rausch serves as treasurer for NorthWestern Energy.

LaPointe said the changes position Early Stage Montana to resume its HyperAccelerator program, its regional showcases and mentor-matching program. It will also launch its “Virtual Executive-in-Residence” program to help local tech companies grow faster.

“The program will engage thousands of talented and well-connected Montanans living and working around the world to expand access for Montana tech startups to valuable expertise and networks,” the organization stated.

Graff leaving MEP to help Israeli firm launch North American ops in Missoula