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20 under 40: PacificSource Health manager and former Western football player a force for good

20 under 40: PacificSource Health manager and former Western football player a force for good


East Helena native Justin Murgel always seems to be looking for a way to strengthen his community.

Murgel, 38, wore several hats during 14 years at Intermountain, from developing an occupational training program, working in area schools and training staff. At his new position as manager of provider networks at PacificSource Health Plans, he hopes to continue helping the community by helping people access health care.

“It is about building a stronger community,” Murgel said. “I’ll still help out at Intermountain and loved the people I worked with, but I think I was just ready to take on the new challenge.”

Murgel graduated from Helena High in 1995, then went on to the University of Montana Western where he earned a degree in business administration and played football. The decorated defensive lineman was inducted into Western’s hall of fame in 2011.

College was also where he met his future wife Sara, who was in the Marine Corps and stationed in Yuma, Arizona. It was there that Murgel got his first experience working in child welfare at a youth detention facility.

Once Sara left the Corps, they returned to the Helena area where the couple and their two daughters have called home.

Murgel started a job as a data analyst after his return. It was not a good fit and he decided to look again at helping kids.

“I took a risk with Intermountain,” he said. “I started as a direct care councilor and it continued to grow from there.”

Murgel worked in direct care for eight years, transitioning to school-based programs including training for public schools. The work often took him into the homes of distressed children and families.

“It’s non-stop, 24-7 at times, but the team aspect that Intermountain operates with means you always have resources,” he said. “But it is very taxing and there’s some very heart wrenching stories of kids with struggles and their families.”

Murgel moved into leadership positions in recent years, including chief operations officer and chief business officer. There he helped develop new programs including the occupational program.

“Intermountain is about helping out the community but also being a part of the community,” he said. “We all need someone to talk to once in a while.”

Intermountain co-worker Elizabeth Kohlstaedt praised Murgel’s creativity and ability to communicate with people bringing a variety of viewpoints. Plus he is a fun and nice guy, she said.

“He’s been a critical part of expanding services and he’s connected  to the community with a vast amount of knowledge for someone his age,” she said. “PacificSource is lucky to have someone of his integrity and even though it’s been a loss for us, it’s a gain for the community.”

Murgel says he tries to approach decisions by motivating and simply listening, even if he does not agree.

“It takes everyone to accomplish a goal,” he said. “Even if your 1 percent of that goal, if we don’t have that 1 percent we can’t reach 100 percent.”

Reporter Tom Kuglin can be reached at 447-4076 or


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State Reporter/Outdoors Reporter

Tom Kuglin is the deputy editor for the Lee Newspapers State Bureau. His coverage focuses on outdoors, recreation and natural resources.

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