Hello, Montana - MSUB Library Lecture Series, Spring 2023

March 14, 2023 - 6:30 pm Petro Theatre

Fighting for Women’s Rights: Hazel Hunkins Hallinan of Montana - Kevin Kooistra

Hazel Hunkins Hallinan (1890–1982), a 1908 graduate of Billings High School, was a champion of women’s rights her entire life. A pivotal member of the National Woman's Party (NWP) and an active campaigner for woman's suffrage in America, Hunkins Hallinan was on the front lines of the NWP from 1916-1920. She then fought for equal rights in England for fifty years, before returning to the United States to support the Equal Rights Amendment. Using original unpublished research and historic photographs, this 45-minute program is presented by Kevin Kooistra of the Western Heritage Center.


Kevin Kooistra Photo Executive Director of the Western Heritage Center in Billings, Kevin Kooistra has worked in Montana for more than three decades as a historian, archaeologist, cultural anthropologist, and scriptwriter. His work at the Western Heritage Center includes public programming and museum management. Kooistra has an undergraduate degree from Montana State University Bozeman and a Master’s in Applied Anthropology from Northern Arizona University.


March 21, 2023 - 6:30 pm Petro Theatre

Music from the Magic City to the World - John Roberts


John Roberts Photo John Roberts is a Professor of Low Brass at MSU Billings, teaching Music Theory, Aural Perception, Jazz Ensemble, Commercial Ensemble, World Music courses and more.  He is active in the Montana and Los Angeles performing and studio scenes as a bandleader, studio musician and composer/arranger.  He is currently recording and composing for his next album, part of which was recorded in Santiago de Cuba and Los Angeles.  John is passionate about sharing an open-minded, real-world view of music performance, business and education with his students and the community.

View Professor Roberts' presentation - Music from the Magic City to the World


March 28, 2023 - 6:30 pm Petro Theatre

Reality Impaired: Alternative Fiction Author Panel - Moderator Julie Shultz (This House of Books)

Most people know that Billings has serious literary bonafides, but they tend to connect our city with western history, realism, and nature. They might be surprised to learn that Billings is home to any authors of fantasy or science fiction, let alone enough to fill out a panel! Fantasy and science fiction are two of the most popular fiction categories, though, particularly with young adults, and we are lucky to have a group of local authors steeped in these genres to discuss why they think that is the case. Is there something about living in Billings that draws these authors to more speculative genres like fantasy and science fiction? How is the writing process different than for genres based in realism? And what is the difference between science fiction and fantasy, anyway? Join us for the evening as we explore the speculative worlds these authors have created.

Moderator Biography

Julie Schultz Photo

Julie Schultz is the treasurer and primary book buyer for This House of Books, the bookstore co-op in downtown Billings, and she also serves on the board of the High Plains Book Awards. Speculative fiction has always been one of her favorite genres, and she particularly loves how it can presage events in the real world. She left her career working in finance in New York to "retire" back home to Montana to think harder about how artificial intelligence will change how we organize society and writes about it in her blog, The Disgruntled Rationalist. Thus far, she has not been aided by ChatGPT.

Panelist Biographies

Mike Thayer Photo Mike Thayer is the author of The Talent Thief, The Double Life of Danny Day, and The Epic Adventures of the Techno Wizard series. He is a proud father of three, lucky husband of one, passionate author, viral blogger, budding podcaster, degreed engineer, decent impressionist, inept hunter, lifelong gamer, erstwhile jock, and nerd. He has cast a ring on the slopes of Mt. Doom, eaten a feast at the Green Dragon Inn, cemented Excalibur in a sandstone block, tasted butter beer at Diagon Alley, built a secret door to his storage room, and written numerous novels. What else is left, really?
M.H. Van Keuren Photo M.H. Van Keuren once quit a perfectly good job so he could move across the country and write science-fiction in Montana. He and his wife live in Billings and have two adult sons.
Precious McKenzie Photo Precious McKenzie has a PhD in British Literature, has taught at the college level for a LONG time, and is a published poet and children's book writer. She loves magical creatures, fairytales with twists, and all kinds of music! Her most recent book, Infestation, was published by Lerner this January.
K.J. Backer Photo K.J. Backer is an American writer, history teacher, wife, mother, and obsessed with her darling pomeranians, handsome tortoise, and adorable chihuahua. Her fantasy series, Nav'Aria, is intended for a mature audience and includes EPIC unicorn warriors. The Legend of Tiny Tails (intended for readers 8+) is a nod to her country upbringing, a gift for her daughter and students, and a love letter to her pets. K.J. is a big believer is dreaming BIG, living with passion, and helping kids and animals. Learn more at: kjbacker.com.

View Author Panel - Reality Impaired: Alternative Fiction


April 4, 2023 - 6:30 pm Petro Theatre

P.B. & Mattie Moss: A Love Story turned Legacy - Joel Waller

The Moss Mansion is an icon of Billings and has a history as great as the Mansion’s size. Built in 1903 by P.B. and Mattie Moss it is the most significant part of the Moss legacy. However, P.B. and Mattie Moss were pioneers in the Billings Community and helped build Billings into what it is today. This is the story of their life, and the legacy they left.


Joel Waller is  the Lead Site Historian for the Moss Mansion. He is a Montana native who spent his childhood in Billings. After graduating from University of Montana he moved to Seattle and made it his home until retirement. His mother was actively involved as a patron of the Moss Mansion and helped transform it into a Museum. This sparked Joel’s love for the Moss. On retired he returned to Billings and made volunteering at the Moss a top priority. He now serves as a Lead Site Historian and regularly leads exciting and unique tours through the home.

View Joel Waller's presentation: P.B. & Mattie Moss: A Love Story turned Legacy