Meet the WEN Staff


Deb Fassnacht, Executive Director

Deb fell into a pond as a small child and has been playing and working with water ever since. She is one of the founders of the organization, along with Wendy Sturgis and Eric Ringleberg. What began as a volunteer stream monitoring effort in 1996 has grown into a successful non-profit organization focusing on watersheds, wetlands and education. Deb brings science teaching and education/outreach experience to WEN. She is nearly finished with her Masters in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in science education at the University of Montana. Deb has returned from an education position at Salish Kootenai College to serve WEN again as Director and looks forward to resuming WEN’s many community relationships! She is eager to hear from WEN friends and partners and warmly welcomes you to stop by our office to say hi!


Rebecca Paquette, Program Coordinator

Coincidentally, it was a field trip in the third grade that inspired Rebecca to pursue a career in the sciences. It wasn’t odd to her parents when she decided to study zoology at the University of New Hampshire after that field trip to a local zoo and the subsequent years of mammalogy encyclopedias and studying everything featured on Animal Planet. Some highlights of her coursework there was obtaining her scuba license and teaching two semesters of Vertebrate Morphology. She moved to Montana last February from New England in hopes of a new adventure and she loves exploring the state through hiking, biking, and skiing. Rebecca started her exploration of the community as well through volunteering with the Montana Natural History Center when she first moved to MT. Through her experiences there and a mutual friend, she was introduced to Deb Fassnacht and WEN. It wasn’t long after their introduction that Rebecca fell in love with WEN’s mission and the passion that was evidently driving it. Towards the end of April, Rebecca was brought on as Program Coordinator and has been immersing herself with everything WEN ever since.


Heather Brighton

Heather Brighton, Development Coordinator

Heather is the Development Coordinator for WEN and feels fortunate to be a part of this wonderful organization that promotes water health, youth and innovative teaching. She came to WEN after five years with Trout Unlimited and the rest is history. Heather grew up on the front range of Colorado and had the good fortune to have a teacher as a mother, an adventurous brother and father, and cottonwood creek to play in. She credits those resources and experiences for her love of nature and learning. Heather received a Certificate in Restoration Ecology from University of Idaho and a B.S. in Natural Resource Management and Forestry from Colorado State University. Most of her career has been spent as a project manager in the field of restoration however she’s no stranger to fundraising. Heather has been a part of the Missoula community for eight years and has volunteered for many non-profits including serving on the Rattlesnake Creek Watershed Group board.




Sara McComas, Grants & Programs Administrator

 After completing her B.S. in biology in Tacoma, WA, Sara moved to Seattle where she met her husband, Josh- a recent transplant from Montana. Five years later they relocated to Missoula, where she completed her second degree in resource conservation at UM and completed a grant writing internship at WEN. A job opportunity for her husband returned them to Washington, but another five years later they were back in beautiful Missoula. Sara has enjoyed working with several conservation- and education-minded non-profits during her two tours in Missoula- including Montana Water Trust, Montana Trout Unlimited, National Wildlife Federation and, or course, WEN.

Sara now works at WEN part-time, immersing herself in grant administration, bookkeeping, and general program administration. When not in the office, Sara tries to keep up with her 6-year-old son, adopted animals (one tenacious terrier, one fat tabby, and one curious calico), three chickens, and never-ending home remodeling projects. In her rare spare moments, she can be found in the garden or reading.