About me

Born and raised in Minneapolis and the rural Upper Peninsula of Michigan, I’ve called Montana home for more than 15 years. I hold an M.P.A. from the University of Montana in Missoula, where I am now an Assistant Professor of Public Administration & Policy at the Baucus Institute in the Alexander Blewett III School of Law. I earned my Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff and did my undergraduate work at Skidmore College. My dissertation, which focused on election administration and administrators, was nominated to the Network of Schools of Public Affairs, Administration, and Policy for the national dissertation award.

Prior to my career in academia, I was Director of Montana Operations for the national public affairs firm Strategies 360, where I launched the agency-wide Indian Affairs practice. Before that, I served as the Director of the Northern Plains Initiative and Rural Dynamics Inc. where I led a sustainable economic and community development collaborative focused on policy and program development, resource and technical assistance, and communication and facilitation services across rural and Native communities in the Dakotas, Montana, and Wyoming. I also developed, managed and lobbied for Rural Dynamics policy initiatives, including two successful ballot initiatives, I-164 (“Cap the Rate,” payday loan interest rate cap) and
I-155 (“Healthy Montana Kids,” CHIP expansion).

My SkyBar Solutions clients have included the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the Public Health and Safety Division of the State of Montana, Reach Higher Montana (Student Assistance Foundation of Montana), Native Community Development Financial Institutions/Federal Reserve Bank, Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks AmeriCorps program, the City of Missoula, and Rural Dynamics, Inc.

My clients benefit from my years of building trusting relationships with leaders across local, state, federal and tribal governments, as well as those with influence in the private sector. The value of my work lies in distilling complex problems into actionable solutions, and prioritizing good data over gut instinct. My professional passion is finding answers to tough questions and making public policymaking more accessible to everyday people.

As a (relatively) young woman working in academia and an ardent feminist, my clients are sometimes surprised when they see how much I truly care about people and the projects on which we collaborate. In 2020 during the height of the pandemic, I co-founded Electable with my good friend Caitlin Copple Masingill to help more women run, win, and lead in local public office.

Christina Barsky, Ph.D., M.P.A.
President, SkyBar Solutions

Christina Barsky
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Favorite Coffee

It’s a tie between Dunn Bros from my childhood hometown and Black Coffee Roasting Company, from my adoptive hometown, Missoula.
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What I Can’t Live Without

My dogs, Simon and Gibson
homework

Favorite Assignment I’ve Given My Students

One year, I created Knievelville (inspired by Butte-born legend Evel Knievel), a fictional municipality where my students engaged in a long-term simulation in which they chose to role-play public interest groups, elected officials, and department heads and had to solve a complex policy problem
hiking

Favorite Hiking Spot

Beartooth-Absorka Wilderness and the Bob Marshall Wilderness
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Favorite Politician

These days I’m particularly inspired by the women leading in government around the world, and in particular New Zealand’s PM Jacinda Ardern. Closer to home, and nonpartisan, The Notorious RBG, of course.