Board of Directors
Joe Esparza is co-owner of Leadership Outfitters. A Bozeman, Montana based company, Leadership Outfitters provides life-altering personal leadership development. Since 1992, Joe has run a successful coaching and consulting company working with executives in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Joe brings these skills to the Warriors and Quiet Waters Foundation board, joining in 2013. Joe enjoys spending time with his family and is a horseman, hunting on horseback and trail riding. He also is a passionate bow hunter and equally enjoys spending time on the waters of Montana fly-fishing. Joe’s oldest son Ryan is active military serving in the Air Force as a Combat Rescue Officer.
Brian Finnan, Col, USAF (Ret.)
Board Vice Chair
Brian Finnan, Colonel, USAF (retired) entered the Air Force through the AFROTC program from the University of Alabama in 1971. Throughout his 30 year Air Force career, he served in numerous operational flying, command, and staff positions including tours in both Vietnam and Desert Storm. He retired from active duty in 2001; he and his wife Mary Ann then moved to McLeod, MT, where they are deeply involved in the community. Brian is a passionate hunter and fly fisherman, he began as a volunteer with WQW in 2014 to share that passion with our returning combat veterans. The Finnans have three children and ten grandchildren; their daughter lives in Great Falls with her family; their two sons are active duty Air Force officers–one currently stationed in Germany and the other in Ohio.
Ed completed his early years of school in St. Louis, Missouri and graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a economics degree in 1967. He went on to earn an MBA form the University of Missouri-St. Louis in 1971. Before moving to Montana in 1986, Ed was employed at Anheuser-Busch. Currently, Ed is the owner and president of Cardinal Distributing Company, a wholesale distributor of beer, wine and other beverages in a four county area in southwest Montana. He is married to Barbara with a family of five children and four grandchildren. Ed is a former Rotarian, has volunteered with Montana Special Olympics, has served as the national and state director for beverage distributors, president of Gallatin Development Corporation, director with Montana Chamber of Commerce, and has been a member of several other civic and business organizations.
The Senior Director of Organizational Development & Community Relations for Simms Fishing Products, Diane Bristol has been with Simms for over twenty years, and previously worked with the former parent company, Life-Link International. During her tenure at Simms, Diane has managed Marketing & Brand Management, Product Development, and Customer Service, which included the Call & Repair Centers, Shipping Department, and Warranty Resolution. While Diane has served in these positions, Simms has achieved numerous product and advertising awards in national branding magazines. She has a BA in Psychology from Western State Colorado University in Gunnison, Colorado and has served on the board for the American Fly Fishing Trade Association and the International Women Fly Fishers. She is a frequent guest speaker for marketing classes at Montana State University, is an avid fly fisher and enjoys outdoor activities and Montana State University football. Diane and her husband, Bruce, have lived in Belgrade/Bozeman for twenty-three years, and have one son who is currently a sophomore at Montana State University.
Through her role at Simms, Diane has had the honor of coordinating & distributing Simms gear to the Warriors that participate in the FX events. In 2014, Diane joined the board of WQW and looks forward to expanding her ability to assist and promote this great organization.
Jim is a retired law enforcement officer, having served as both a deputy sheriff with the Grand County (Colorado) sheriff’s department and as an Agent-in-Charge with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. He specialized in managing people and programs with proficiency in technical writing, public speaking and as a trainer. Jim is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and the recipient of numerous law enforcement and public service awards. He served four years in the U.S. Army, more than half of that in Vietnam. An avid fly-fisher, and Kalispell, Montana resident since 1996, both he and his wife have been volunteers with Warriors and Quiet Waters since 2008 and joined the board in 2012.
Jim Collins, Col, USMC (Ret.)
Jim Collins, Colonel, USMC (retired) served for 34 years in a career spanning the ranks from Private to Colonel. Initially a reconnaissance team leader in Viet Nam he subsequently became a Naval Aviator and fighter pilot flying F-4 Phantoms and F/A-18 Hornets. He commanded a squadron during Desert Storm and a Marine Aircraft Group before retiring in 2002. His wife Cherie is a retired USN Commander and Intelligence Officer. Their son Matt is currently a USN Reserve Seabee. After retirement from the Corps, Jim consulted for Booz Allen Hamilton and was a Professor with the University of San Diego School of Business graduate program. Jim has been fly fishing since he was 8 and was privileged to have been invited to the Slough Creek FX in 2013. He’s continued his association with WQW as a volunteer and will co-lead an FX in June 2017.
Eugen Graf, IV
Eugen has been the owner of EG Construction since 2004. He has served on the Board of Directors for the Bozeman chapter of Eagle Mount.
Chris Oliver is a former Major in the Marine Corps and a graduate of the United States Naval Academy. He was designated as a Naval Aviator flying the CH-53e Super Stallion helicopter and served three tours in Iraq accumulating nearly 1000 combat hours. Chris returned to flight school as an instructor pilot before leaving active duty after twelve years of service. He joined a reserve unit and was later reactivated and deployed to Okinawa as part of the reconstitution of the UDP. He currently serves as the principal of a private holding company, where he actively invests and mentors as an Angel in start-up companies, as well as partners and invests in various other commercial real estate and business ventures. He resides in Austin, TX, and Big Sky, MT. Chris has volunteered as a Companion on both Fishing and Skiing Experiences and now serves on both the Warriors and Quiet Waters’ National Advisory Board and Board of Directors.
Greg recently transitioned to the private sector after nine years of active duty service as a U.S. Navy SEAL. His service to our nation includes multiple military qualifications and overseas deployments. Greg is the Business Manager at Ascent Vision in Bozeman, a company specializing in precision technologies for the manned and unmanned aerospace industry. Greg continues to be an avid fly fisherman and prior to his military service worked as a guide in Idaho and Montana. He is excited to call Montana home and spend time outside and on the water with his wife and three children. Greg joined the board in 2017 and looks forward to contributing to the continued success of the organization.
Ali Ramirez, DPT
Ali is a physical therapist at Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital and a Bozeman native, enlisting in the Navy after High School. Prior to her current position, Ali served 20-years in a variety of assignments including the U.S. Navy as a Russian Intelligence Analyst and the U.S. State Department serving as a Diplomat at multiple Embassies around the globe. Ali is also a yoga and apparatus pilates instructor, triathlete, and ultra-marathoner and left her government career in 2011 to obtain a Doctorate in Physical Therapy. After serving half her former career overseas, Ali is excited to be home and giving back to her community. Ali holds a DPT from Dominican College and MA and BA from Middlebury Institute of International Studies.
Tim is Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer for AbbVie, a highly focused research-driven biopharmaceutical company. Previously, he worked for Abbott Laboratories and 3M Company in a variety of HR roles. He received his B.A. degree from the University of Minnesota and his M.A. in Labor & Industrial Relations from Michigan State University. Tim is pleased to combine his love of fly fishing and deep respect for veterans by serving on the WQW board, which he joined in 2017. He and his wife Heather live in north suburban Chicago with their three children.
Tom is a United States Marine from the Viet Nam Era. After leaving the Marine Corps he met and married Pat, his wife of 49 years. They have two sons and two grandsons. After completing his undergraduate and graduate work, Tom was employed by two multi national companies spending most of career as the head of the administrative group which included real estate, human resources, labor relations, purchasing and security. He has been a volunteer with Warriors and Quiet Waters for 6 years serving as a Volunteer Companion, Assistant Team Leader and Team Leader. He enjoys watching and assisting our current generation of warriors learn about fly-fishing and incorporating the Warriors and Quiet Waters experience into their lives.
Emeritus Board Members
Tom grew up in Bozeman, Montana and attended Montana State University earning a degree in Accounting. He went on to serve nine years in the US Army, enrolling in 1969. He served as a Medevac pilot in Vietnam earning two Distinguished Fly Crosses and 12 Air Medals. In 1975, Tom completed a master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of San Francisco. After active duty, Tom served another 11 years in the Montana National Guard, retiring as a Major. Tom has been a college professor and recently retired from an award-winning 33- year career in financial planning and advising. Tom has has two children and two grandchildren. Tom professes that “fish do not fear him but he skis quite well.”
Eric Hastings, Col, USMC (Ret.)
Board Chair Emeritus
Col Hastings is a Bozeman native who graduated from Bozeman Senior High School. Although he was offered a full scholarship for music to Missoula, he turned it down, knowing that the only place he truly wanted to go was Montana State College (now MSU). At the encouragement of his father, Hastings enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1960 at the age of 17. He wanted to be an aviator and knew that the Marine Corps was the connection he needed. Hastings graduated in 1964 with a degree in history, philosophy and English, also earning his officer’s commission and marrying his high school sweetheart in the same year. Subsequently, Hastings attended every level of military school imaginable and earned two masters degree along the way.
After attending the necessary military schools, Hastings moved to Hawaii where he learned to fly the F-8 Crusader, an airplane he “fell in love with.” He then learned to fly the A-4 Skyhawk, which he flew for the majority of his career, including the 168 combat missions he flew in Vietnam. After his tour in Vietnam, Hastings was sent to several places around the world, eventually reaching the rank of colonel. Remarkably, Hastings was the chief of staff for Marine forces during Operation Desert Storm, in 1990-91.
Captain Thomas R. O’Connor, USN (Ret.) was born in Butte, Montana and grew up in Miles City, Montana followed by a move to Australia for 10 years. He graduated from Montana State University before entering the Navy in 1963. Tom spent 26 years in the Navy as an aircraft maintenance officer before retiring in 1989. He had two major shore commands during his career. Following retirement, Tom held numerous jobs in the aerospace industry. He served as president of Advanced Repair Technologies International (ARTI) a company that developed and applies advanced bonded composite repairs to aircraft throughout the world. He returned to Bozeman in 1997 with his wife, the former Celia Smith (a Bozeman native). In 2010, Tom and Celia received the Montana State Blue and Gold Award, honoring individuals who have rendered great lifetime service. They have two sons and four grandchildren.
Ryan feels lucky to be born, raised, and educated in Bozeman’s Gallatin Valley. In 2009, Ryan’s interests in fly fishing and his great appreciation of the fine men and women who have made the sacrifice to serve our country, brought him to Warriors and Quiet Waters first as a volunteer then as a member of the board of directors. Ryan is now excited to continue his tenure with Warriors and Quiet Waters as the member of staff charged with caring for Quiet Waters Ranch. When not working, he is usually found playing with his wife and two children in all that the Bozeman area has to offer.
National Advisory Board
Col Eric Hastings, USMC (Ret.)
Ann Marie Fox
Philip J. Uihlein, Sr.
Former Board Members
Eric “Rico” Jones
Cliff Myers, Col, USMC (Ret.)
Volney Steele, Co-Founder