Heralding from the small Montana cattle town of Ovando, Racene Friede grew up on the southern end of the Crown of the Continent—an upbringing that helped establish her inherent love for Big Sky Country. Armed with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication from Montana State University, Racene has spent the majority of her professional career promoting travel and tourism to Montana. Since 2007, Racene has put her more than 26 years of marketing experience to work as the Executive Director for Glacier Country Tourism and has been a key player in helping to make tourism one of the top two industries in the state. In addition to leading one of Montana’s largest DMOs (destination marketing organization), Racene is also actively involved with Tourism Matters to Montana, Voices of Montana Tourism and the Blackfoot Challenge.
A western girl at heart, Kristi McNeal has spent most of her adult life in Montana’s Missoula Valley and has lived in the charming small town of Frenchtown for more than 20 years. Kristi started helping in her family’s businesses at an early age, where she learned to work hard and balance the various tasks needed to successfully run a business. Equipped with more than 25 years of experience in financial management and accounting, Kristi joined Glacier Country Tourism as the Office Manager in 2011, a position that merges her keen eye for detail with her passion for travel. As Office Manager, Kristi is responsible for keeping Glacier Country’s private and public budgets and financials up-to-date. She also oversees Glacier Country’s partnership program and works with our 300+ member partners.
A Washington native, Debbie Picard was born and raised just north of Seattle in the scenic town of Edmonds. Growing up on the Puget Sound, she caught the travel bug while participating in a high school summer exchange program to Europe. With her love for travel firmly established, she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Visual Communication from Western Washington University, a degree she soon put to work in her sales career promoting Washington as a travel destiation. Throughout her years in Washington, Debbie and her husband—along with their triplets—spent several weeks each year vacationing in Montana where they soon fell in love with the state’s natural beauty, outdoor activities and people. She brings more than 16 years of experience in the travel industry to Glacier Country Tourism, where she has worked as the Tourism Sales Manager since 2012 in a role that seamlessly blends her sales experience with her love of Western Montana as she sells its offering to different markets all over the world.
Lucy Guthrie Beighle has called Missoula home for over three decades and is raising her soon-to-be teenagers to appreciate all the magic Montana has to offer. Originally from Scotland, she moved to Montana as a child. Her father described it to her as a place with the “friendliest people on earth,” and Lucy quickly found that to be indisputable. She received an undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder and then a master’s from the University of Montana, and she has been in the communications field ever since. She teaches public relations in the communication studies department at the University of Montana, and most recently owned a public relations consulting business where she worked with clients in the hospitality, conservation, arts, music, technology, food, education and medical industries. Lucy’s specialty is helping people tell their story, and she brings this passion to the many diverse communities in Western Montana, all of which have unique and captivating stories to tell.