Karen Orzech was astonished when she learned that she was to receive this award. She told us that with this recognition MBN had made her day, her week ... her month, and, yes, really we had been there for her so much of the way that this was icing on the cake.
Karen’s philosophy is one of PLANTING SEEDS. She is constantly finding the OPPORTUNITY to Do the RIGHT THING. And it shows.
She grew up on the East Coast and moved to the Southwest. She was a scientist and spent her time blowing up mosquitoes. In 1994 she came to Missoula to accept a professorship at the University of Montana, and then she became a Missoula County Justice of the Peace in 1998. This woman is not your ordinary Justice of the Peace. She is known for going above and beyond what we would think is her call to duty. She has been known to hike hours up into the mountains to officiate a wedding just so that someone’s dream can come true. The bride said it was a perfect day, and Karen was heard to say that she was just doing her job!
Karen’s community involvement is far reaching; from being a former Crime Victim Advocate for Missoula City and County, to being a Montana Magistrates’ Association (MMA) Training Judge for western Montana. She was appointed to the Montana Supreme Court Commission on Judicial Ethics and the Commission on Technology; she is a board member of Missoula Pro-Bono Attorney Program, a member of Missoula Underage Substance Abuse and also a member of the Prevention Team and Missoula DUI Task Force. Karen volunteers for Planet Kids, the supervised visitation program sponsored by YWCA and she is involved with Community Circles and Kiwanis. In fact she was chosen to be “Kiwanian of the Year 2001” for her community service. She is also a member of the advisory team of the Missoula County Mental Health Court.
Karen’s most recent project is her “So Now You are 18” presentations to high school students and HOBY--Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Foundation.
As a long time MBN member Karen has generously donated to the annual MBN Symposium, attends most general membership meetings, and many of the socials. She is known for going out of her way to say hello or thank you and for sending emails, notes, or phones calls to acknowledge others' accomplishments. She plants her seeds of kindness and appreciation by going out of her way to recognize others. MBN encourages her to continue finding those opportunities to do the right thing, as we all benefit from her good works.
She is working with the prosecutor, public defender, probation, and treatment providers to establish a DUI Court in Missoula County to better adjudicate DUI cases, holding offenders accountable and keeping the public safe.