Sharyl Allen headshot

Sharyl Allen is serving as Deputy Superintendent.

Sharyl is a native Montanan raised in an entrepreneurial environment with ranching as the backbone of her family. Community involvement and pride were firmly instilled by parents who valued work ethic, family, music, and God. Western Montana College provided an exceptional foundation to become an effective teacher. Her MBA was completed at Northern Arizona University, where she also completed post-master’s work in Educational Leadership. Georgetown University’s Urban Educational Leadership certificate was completed in 2015. With 38-years in public education, she has been with the OPI for just over a year first as the Transformational Learning and Montana Advanced Opportunities program manager, and since April 2020 as the Deputy Superintendent.

Contact Sharyl, 406-444-5658.

Sarah Swanson headshot

Sarah Swanson is serving as Chief of Staff.

Sarah was born and raised in Glasgow, MT. Her commitment to our rural, agricultural communities and trades education stems in large part from her tenure as General Manager and an owner of Farm Equipment Sales (FES). Sarah helped grow FES into a $150 million dollar business with 4 John Deere dealerships covering 14 counties across Eastern MT. That work led to Sarah’s involvement with Prostart and Build Montana, where she spearheaded the creation of numerous career technical education partnerships between K-12 schools and private industry to create future career opportunities for students in skilled trades. Sarah is Past President of the MT Retail Association, the MT Equipment Dealers Association, and MT Prostart Education Foundation. In addition to working with a variety of local and regional nonprofits, she has served as a Montana Chamber of Commerce Director and sits on the Leadership Montana Board of Governors.

Contact Sarah, 406-444-3160.


Jessica Flint headshotJessica Flint is serving as the Communication Program Specialist.

As a 4th generation Montanan, Jessica comes from a proud family of educators. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Communication from the University of Montana, where she met her husband Aaron, a currently serving combat veteran. She has experience in a broad range of industries, stewarding projects for several private and public entities, including four different members of Montana’s congressional delegation. Jessica endeavors to serve all Montanans in all she does, including serving on the St. Vincent Hospital Foundation Board and as a board member for the MetraPark in Yellowstone County.

Contact Jessica, 406-438-3400.


Chris Averill headshotChris Averill is serving as the Communication Director.

A longtime communicator, Chris has served in the Communications Director role for several Members of Congress, as well as on the staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. In 2017, Chris joined the Trump Administration at the U.S. General Services Administration, first in a communications and Congressional affairs capacity, and more recently as Regional Administrator in his native New England. He has also spent time working for The New England Council, a regional business organization, as well as on several political campaigns. He and his wife, Amanda Kaster (whose parents are both educators), live in East Helena, and enjoy exploring Montana’s beautiful outdoors, and perhaps most critically, Montana’s thriving brewery scene. Chris is a graduate of Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, with a B.A. in History and a minor in Government and Legal Studies, and presently serves as a member of the Lewis and Clark County Heritage Preservation and Tourism Development Council.

Contact Chris, 406-444-3449.



Jake GriffithJake Griffith is serving as the Chief Legal Counsel.

Jacob’s legal experience representing children led him to join the Office of Public instruction. He brings to the office a breadth of experience in management and litigation experience. He began his legal career in Hillsboro, Oregon in a private law firm specializing in juvenile law. In 2015 he became a shareholder in his firm in Oregon, but eventually he and his wife, a native Montanan, decided it was time to move their family back to Montana. Prior to joining OPI he was a prosecutor in the Lewis and Clark County Attorney’s Office focusing on felony prosecutions. Jacob attended the University of Montana and completed his undergraduate studies with a B.A. in Political Science. Directly after completing his undergraduate degree he began law school graduating from the University of Montana School of Law. When not at work, you will find him spending time with his family enjoying all the outdoor activities Montana has to offer.

Contact Jake, 406-444-4399*.


AnastasiaBurtonAnastasia Burton is serving as the Project Manager.

Raised in northcentral Montana, Anastasia Burton earned her degree in communications from the University of Providence. Previously, Anastasia was Deputy Communications Director for Attorney General Tim Fox and Press Secretary for Governor Marc Racicot.  Anastasia has a strong interest in children’s issues, and previously was Community Relations & Marketing Director at Shodair Children’s Hospital. Anastasia has served on the board of Susan G. Komen Idaho-Montana, the Helena Public Art Committee, and the Selma Held Park Committee.  She and her husband are the proud parents of college-bound twins.

Contact Anastasia, 406-444-7325.



Tristen Belnap is serving as the Executive Assistant.

Tristen Belnap was born and raised in Evanston, Wyoming where she developed habits of hard work, a happy mindset, and a continual desire to learn. After graduating high school, she made her way to Montana where she fell in love with the fresh air, mountain views, outdoor activities, and people. Since coming to Montana, Tristen has graduated from Montana State University Billings with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Marketing. Tristen looks forward to supporting the Superintendent, the Office of Public Instruction team, and students of Montana.

Contact Tristen at 406-444-5643.

Patrick Beddow headshotPatrick H. Beddow Sr. is serving as Land Board Advisor

Patrick is a consultant minerals landman from Billings and has been involved with oil, gas, hard minerals, coal and land-title related issues for over 38 years. Using his decades of industry expertise, he advises Superintendent Arntzen in her capacity as Vice-Chair of the Montana Board of Land Commissioners.

Contact Patrick, 406-855-8838


Ivy Bacon HeadshotIvy Bacon is serving as the  Executive Scheduler.

Ivy Bacon was raised in Harlowton, Montana where she watched her mother, an elementary school teacher, mold the minds of the young students in her community. This influence developed her desire to serve Montana families in a public service setting. After graduating from Montana State University - Billings with an Associate’s in General Studies, Ivy moved home to Harlowton where she joined Wheatland County Sherriff’s Office as a dispatcher. The exposure to maintaining critical office management under high-stress situations helped in developing great organizational skills. From there, Ivy went on to work for the Montana Department of Transportation as an office administrator in Wolf Point, Montana. Working in a state lead agency created a knowledge of government run facilities that will serve the Superintendent and the Office of Public Instruction well.

Contact Ivy, 406-444-3559.