a ukrainian woman and man carry their belongings walking amongst the bombed out remains of their homes
Jan 9, 2023
Daily Inter Lake

Public Invited To Ask Questions for Panel Discussion on Ukraine

By Hilary Matheson

Four experts will come together at Flathead High School Tuesday for a panel discussion on the Russia-Ukraine war.

The purpose of the discussion is to educate the community about the conditions in Ukraine and humanitarian aid efforts and is not meant to be a debate or critique of U.S. foreign policy, according to organizers Samuel Preta and Roy Antley.

“This is one of those defining moments of 21st-century history,” said Antley, a Flathead social studies teacher.

Global repercussions of the war have impacted energy prices, food supply and mobility of people and goods, according to the European Council of the European Union.

Panelists are: Marty Mullins, an Eastern European historian and Flathead Valley Community College adjunct faculty member; Mick Mulroy, an international security expert and co-founder of the Whitefish-based Lobo Institute; Chris Hyslop, a humanitarian aid expert and executive director of the Montana World Affairs Council; and Steve Houtz, a medical supply program coordinator with the Bozeman-based Ukraine Relief Effort.

Houtz has also connected with the mayor of Kopychyntsi, Ukraine, Bogdan Kelichavyi, to participate in the event.

“He is planning to join the event next Tuesday whether that’s by sending a recorded message or being able to join the event live,” Houtz said.

Preta, a substitute teacher at Flathead, connected with Antley to help get the ball rolling on organizing the panel discussion. He also credits Hyslop for mentoring him through the process of assembling panelists.

“I was following the events in Ukraine closely for quite awhile,” Preta said, later adding, “I have been extremely impressed with the courage and resilience of the Ukrainian people. They have sacrificed and endured so much to preserve their society in the face of aggression.”

What spurred Preta to organize the event was a Veterans Day assembly at the school where a speaker spoke about doing something for the community.

“The Flathead Valley is brimming with knowledgeable and compassionate people who care about what's going on in the world. I saw an opportunity to do some good by bringing them together,” Preta said.

Antley also noted, there is a significant population of Russians and Ukrainians living in the valley when speaking on why a war “on the other side of the world” is relevant to Flathead County. The valley has also welcomed Ukrainian refugees to the community in 2022.

Preta hopes the discussion will “empower the community to learn more about the world,” and motivate people to take action whether through donations or humanitarian efforts.

The panel discussion will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan 10 in the auditorium at Flathead High School. The event is free and open to the public. People are invited to make donations that will go toward humanitarian relief organizations including Mercy Corps and the Ukraine Relief Effort. Details on how to donate will be available at the event.

For more information, email Preta at