Making Connections

Board member Jill Vandegrift enjoys learning what is important to NLI members

By Elissa Glassman

Jill VandegriftInteracting with people and staying engaged with Northern Lights Inc. members is key to giving back to the community for NLI board member Jill Vandegrift.

Jill serves NLI District 2, which covers the area east of Thompson Falls and west to the Idaho/Montana border.

Growing up, Jill traveled across the United States with her dad, who was a forest ranger.

“I spent much of my childhood in the mountains hiking, camping, and fishing with my parents and two siblings,” Jill says.

Jill served in the U.S. Air Force for 21 years. Her career began as an enlisted cryptologic linguist, primarily responsible for identifying foreign languages. After nine years of service, she earned a commission as an operations officer.

“While in the military, I was provided with an abundance of opportunities to experience and participate in activities that people would not normally know existed,” Jill says. “For example, I served as the military liaison to the country of Morocco. I planned and coordinated the collaboration of joint international military emergency response teams in preparations for events ranging from terrorist attacks to large scale disasters.”

With a master’s degree in homeland security and intelligence studies, Jill has participated in homeland defense and security, and developed state and local action plans for the military and state crisis action teams. These teams responded to local incidents and natural disasters, and provided support for civil disturbances.

Jill also has a bachelor’s degree in business management, and an associate degree in applied communications application technology.

Jill, her husband, Rick, and their two chocolate labs, Marley and Arya, live in Trout Creek, Montana. They love to take long drives with their dogs and photograph wildlife. They also enjoy spending time with their five children and three grandsons.

Jill is a member of the Noxon, Montana, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and has a passion for helping other veterans navigate their way through the sometimes challenging transition out of the military.

“Another one of my passions is serving on the NLI board,” Jill says. “I get to use my experience and education in a positive way. I enjoy getting to know people and learning more about what is important in their lives and in the community.

As a small community, I want to ensure our voices are heard and our members are well represented.”