Tracy Stone-Manning was among the hundreds of loyal Democrats packed into the Union Club bar on election night last November, gazing anxiously up at the televisions as the Montana returns trickled in. When the image of then Senate-hopeful Jon Tester flashed on the screen, revealing a narrow lead over Conrad Burns, Stone-Manning was among those who cheered wildly for the man she hoped would be her next U.S. Senator.
What she didn’t know then was that she was also cheering for her future boss.
Just days after being sworn in on the Senate floor in Washington, D.C., Tester tapped Stone-Manning, executive director of the Missoula-based Clark Fork Coalition (CFC) since 1999, to head his Missoula field office.
“As executive director of the Clark Fork Coalition, Tracy has an outstanding track record of working with all folks, bridging divides to make Montana a better place,” Tester said in a written statement.
The coalition hired Stone-Manning at a critical point in the debate over the future of the Milltown Dam. The organization lobbied tirelessly over the next six years for the dam’s removal and, in Aug. 2005, federal, state and tribal authorities signed an agreement that guarantees removal of the dam, along with the toxic sediments piled up behind it.
“Obviously Sen. Tester is interested in conservation issues in Montana,” says Tom France, president of the CFC’s board of directors, of Stone-Manning’s hire.
Bruce Farling, executive director of Montana Trout Unlimited, was the coalition’s second employee when the organization started in 1985 and has worked closely with Stone-Manning on watershed conservation issues over the years. He says the CFC’s loss is Tester’s—and his constituents’—gain.
“Tracy is somebody who knows where to go to ask for advice and is not afraid to ask,” says Farling. “Her people skills and her ability to reflect really positively on whomever and whatever she’s representing are going to be real assets to Jon.”
Stone-Manning says she’s excited to be able to work for Tester and serve the people of Montana while remaining in Missoula, the community she loves.
“I am just thrilled and honored,” she says.