Culbertson, MT – Attorney General-Elect Austin Knudsen today announced the appointment of several senior level staff.
“I look forward to working alongside this talented group of exceptional leaders,” Attorney General-Elect Austin Knudsen said. “The diverse backgrounds and depth of experience of our leadership team will serve the Department of Justice and the people of Montana well.”
Senior Policy Advisor – Stephanie Cote – Mrs. Cote is a former state legislator who also served as Senior Policy Advisor for the Montana Secretary of State as well as the Montana State Auditor. Stephanie holds a B.S. in Social Work and has worked nearly 20 years in mental health and long-term care. Stephanie currently owns a consulting business and serves on the board of directors for a local non-profit organization. In addition, Mrs. Cote will serve as Administrator for the Central Services Division.
Solicitor General – David Dewhirst – Mr. Dewhirst is an experienced litigator, he most recently served as a law clerk to Judge Lawrence VanDyke of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. Prior to his clerkship, David served as Principal Deputy General Counsel for the U.S. Department of Commerce, Chief Litigation Counsel for the Freedom Foundation, and law clerk for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. David received his law degree from The George Washington University Law School.
Legislative Liaison – Alan Doane – Mr. Doane is a former state legislator from Glendive. During his time in the legislature, Mr. Doane served has House Majority Whip and Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
Senior Advisor – Jake Eaton – Mr. Eaton is an entrepreneur, investor, and consultant who owns and manages a diverse portfolio of companies. After nearly two decades working in politics, Mr. Eaton is one Montana’s most sought-after political consultants, most recently serving as Chief Strategist for Knudsen’s campaign for Attorney General and Campaign Manager for Governor-Elect Greg Gianforte. Jake is a combat veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and serves on the board of directors for several non-profit organizations.
Chief Deputy Attorney General – Kris Hansen- Ms. Hansen has been the Deputy State Auditor/Chief Legal Counsel under State Auditor, Matt Rosendale, since 2017. Prior to leading that agency, Hansen was a state legislator. Hansen served on the Finance, Tax, Education, Judiciary, and Local Government committees, developing expertise in state law and finance. While serving as a state legislator, Hansen was also the Chief Deputy County Attorney in Havre for three years, then an attorney in private practice in Havre for the following 6 years. Hansen is a Montana National Guard veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, 2008-09, and served a tour of duty with the Central Intelligence Agency in Mogadishu, Somalia, immediately following the Black Hawk Down incident in 1993-94.
Communications Director – Kyler Nierison – Mr. Nierison is a seasoned communications and public policy professional. He has previously worked for Congressman Denny Rehberg, Senator Steve Daines, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, and in various other roles where he advocated for efficient, limited government and economic opportunity. Nerison holds a degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota.
Chief Legal Counsel – Derek Oestreicher – Mr. Oestreicher is an attorney with experience in both the private and public sectors. After obtaining his law degree from the University of Montana School of Law, Derek was a civil trial attorney in Great Falls with Davis, Hatley, Haffeman & Tighe. Derek later served as the Elections Director for the Secretary of State, a Legal Policy Advisor for the Commissioner of Securities and Insurance, and as the Election Day Operations Director for the Montana Republican Party.
Chief of Staff – Will Selph- Mr. Selph attended the University of Montana, after graduation he began his career in public service with Congressman Denny Rehberg, and has served in various senior positions to numerous state-wide elected officials in Montana. He is also a sought-after political consultant who most recently served as a Senior Advisor to Knudsen’s campaign for Attorney General.
Policy Advisor – Alex Sterhan – Mr. Sterhan served as the eastern Montana district director for Congressman Ryan Zinke and senior level Policy Advisor to the Department of Interior at the Bureau of Reclamation. Alex’s ability to combine constituent services with policy was critical in several successes for the Bureau during his tenure. A native of Columbia Falls, he is excited to return home and serve in the Knudsen Administration.