Board of Directors Meet the Directors of Ascent Bank

Coming from diverse industries and business experiences, they provide leadership and help the management of this community bank reach its potential.

Loren Brown

As CEO, Loren is the key figure in the execution and growth plans for the organization. He has a deep background in banking leadership, financing, and operations. Loren believes that community banks are an integral part of our communities and is committed to making Montana a wonderful place to live and work. Loren has called Helena home since elementary school days. He serves in leadership roles on the boards of St. Peter’s Health, Sleeping Giant Flying Club, and the Montana Independent Bankers. Loren also serves on the board of The West Mont Foundation and in a variety of volunteer roles for the Boy Scouts of America. When he’s not at work or volunteering, you may find Loren skiing, skydiving or enjoying the outdoors in countless other ways.

Mike Dalton

During his banking career spanning 46 years, Mike quickly advanced to a leadership role serving in a Senior Management position for 35 years and, during the most recent 25 years, serving as the Regional President and Chief Operating Officer of Mountain West Bank, NA and Market President for First Interstate Bank in Helena, Montana. Mike is a lifetime supporter of small business and of community banking recognizing how both can help a community thrive. When not attending school and sporting events to show support for his many grandchildren, Mike volunteers on community boards. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees for Carroll College and is a Board Member of the Montana History Foundation.

Michelle Edmunds

Michelle Edmunds, the President & Sr. Human Resources (HR) Consultant for Westaff, specializes in Montana employment law and best practices. Michelle provides services such as employee handbook reviews and rewrites, HR consulting, leadership and communication trainings, personnel investigations, temporary and permanent staffing and executive recruitments. A graduate of the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, Michelle holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Human Resources and Industrial Relations and is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources. When not working, Michelle and her husband spend their free time with their kids at the hockey rink, skiing down the mountains, or water skiing on Canyon Ferry.

Mark Esponda

Mark has been active in the Helena Community since attending Carroll College in 2001. He currently works at Dick Anderson Construction in commercial real estate development. He also manages a portfolio of other business interests. Mark was previously in the commercial banking industry for 10 years. Before changing careers, Mark held a senior management position at Opportunity Bank.

When not at work, you will find Mark spending time with his wife and their four active children.

Karen Hicks

Karen has been part of the Helena community since her graduation from the University of Montana in 1984. Karen spent 23 years in the retail propane business eventually retiring as the Vice President of Finance and Administration of the propane divisions of publicly traded Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. She was part of the executive team that managed the sale of propane operations in 2012, and she led the transition of the administrative and accounting divisions in the new company. Karen currently works part time at Grandstreet Theatre as their Finance Manager and volunteers as the treasurer for Saint John’s Lutheran Church. Karen has served on the board of Helena Area Community Foundation and was formerly the secretary of the board at St. Peter’s Health and a member of its Finance Committee.

Matt Ueland

Matt was born and raised on his family ranch, west of Butte, near Ramsay, MT. He earned a bachelor degree in Business Finance at Montana State University. After college, Matt worked as a commercial lending officer. His banking career began with seven years at First Citizens Bank of Butte, a community bank, and then he moved to Wells Fargo Bank NA, a corporate bank. Matt’s education, past work history in banking, and experience with the ranching and agricultural industry gives him a great background to serve on the Bank Board. Matt is currently back on the ranch working as the ranch owner/operator where he lives with his wife Brett (Mihelish) Ueland and their four-year-old daughter Ellie.

Culver Varnado

Culver is currently the owner of Montana Avenue Storage in Helena. A 1980 graduate of Montana State University, Culver’s career has focused on the world of construction and heavy equipment. After working with Tabbert Construction from 1975–1986 he became part-owner of MP&E Rental & Supply from 1986–1998. When MP&E was sold to Tractor and Equipment, Culver remained as a regional manager until 2006. Culver was recruited by Mountain West Bank where he worked as a loan officer in the Real Estate Construction Department then the Problem Loan Department until the bank’s sale in 2014. Culver's 'semi-retired’ status allows him time to work on his golf game.

Kevin Wall

Kevin has spent his entire life in and around Power Townsend, his family’s business. Kevin has been very involved in reaffirming and expanding the store’s role in the Helena community even with the influx of several competing national home repair chain stores. As VP for Power Townsend Co, he oversees all business operations and is in charge of buying lumber and other commodities. Kevin is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys exploring the back country on his side-by-side, camping and almost anything else the Montana outdoors has to offer.