The brief descriptions below are designed to familiarize you with our staff's training, professional credentials and work experience.

Esther S. Barnes, DPM, FACFAS, FAPWCA

Board-Certified Podiatric Physician & Surgeon
Step Ahead Foot & Ankle Clinic, P.C.

Doctor of Podiatric Medicine / Diplomate, American Board of Foot & Ankle Surgery

 Esther S. Barnes, DPM, FACFAS, FAPWCA podiatrist Kalispell, MT

Originally from a small town in Pennsylvania (Susquehanna), Dr. Esther Barnes developed an interest in the foot and the biomechanics of the foot as it relates to the rest of the body when she was a young girl. As a a runner, she was very involved with cross country and track. She suffered from many foot and knee injuries in high school that led her to be fitted with orthotics, and in turn, she became interested in the role appropriate foot biomechanics and alignment has in the prevention and treatment of injuries.

Esther went on to earn a B.S. degree in Biomedical Engineering, with a specialization in Biomechanics, from Northwestern University. She decided she preferred a career more directly involved in patient care over a career in Engineering and went on to earn her Doctorate of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) from Temple University, where she graduated first in her class. Dr. Barnes then attended a prestigious surgical podiatric residency program in Denver, CO (Presbyterian - St. Luke's Medical Center). It was during her residency training that she developed the skills to not only perform traditional forefoot surgical procedures (bunion & hammertoe repairs), but also reconstructive rearfoot and ankle surgery, including ankle arthroscopy. Although Dr. Barnes enjoys surgery and is well-trained in the surgical treatment of foot & ankle ailments, she still prefers a more conservative approach. She enjoys combining her Biomechanical background and her passion for Biomechanics with her recent surgical training to offer a multi-faceted approach to the treatment and prevention of foot and ankle pain. Dr. Barnes is a Diplomat of the American Board of Podiatric Surgery, Certified in both Foot and Reconconstructive Rearfoot & Ankle Surgery, as well as a Fellow of the American Professional Wound Care Association. She is currently the President of the Montana Podiatric Medical Association.

"My greatest enjoyment in being a Foot & Ankle Specialist is using my biomechanical background to help alleviate people’s foot pain, both surgically and non-surgically. Although I enjoy performing surgery, and take great pride in my surgical experience, skills, and training, there is nothing I find more rewarding than  avoiding surgery with exceptional conservative care (orthotics, footwear) and preventing surgery by addressing any underlying Biomechanical concerns, when possible.”

Dr. Barnes enjoys most outdoor activities including hiking, backpacking, camping mountain & road cycline (cycling to and from work), reading, downhill & cross country skiing (skate skiing), spending time with & skijoring her dogs (siberian huskies Niko, Zoe, & Axel), and being involved with the community. She also enjoys carpentry and home remodeling with her husband, Joe. She particularly enjoys building birdhouses.

Feel free to review Dr. Barnes’s Curriculum Vitae for a more detailed description of her experience & training.

Joseph Brega podiatrist Kalispell, MT

Joseph Brega

Pedorthist / Shoe-fitting & Gait Analysis Specialist / Practice Manager

Born and raised in a small ski town in Victoria, Australia, Joe feels at home in northwest Montana. He enjoys helping his wife (Dr. Barnes) in her endeavors and has developed a skill and passion for foot care that nicely compliments that of Dr. Barnes. Having worked with his hands in some form or fashion his entire life (bicycle mechanic / telephone technician), he finds enjoyment in manufacturing foot orthotics and modifying shoes. Joe is the office "jack of all trades." He successfully combines his athletic talent and passion with the skills he’s developed in his Pedorthics training (Foot Solutions, Atlanta GA) in his role as a Shoe-fitting & Gait Analysis Specialist. Joe ensures that Dr. Barnes's patients' feet are matched to footwear designed to maximize their foot function and comfort.

Joe has been an instrumental part of the business since it opened it's doors in January, 2012. From modifying orthotics, to fitting people with shoes, to running telephone wires, and now more recently from billing and collections, to contract negotiations with insurances and all duties managerial, it has amazed us all how much Joe has learned and took on since 2012.  His accent and his witty sense of humor are both characteristics that make many people routine customers, but it is genuine sense of caring and drive to help people that makes them feel most welcome.

Like his wife, Joe enjoys most outdoor activities including hiking, road & mountain biking, downhill & cross country skiing, camping, and spending time with their three Siberian huskies, Niko, Zoe, & Axel Rose IV. He also enjoys carpentry and home remodeling, with his wife, playing the guitar, snowmobiling and, most importantly, working on his bicycles.

Jesse Hansen

Medical Assistant / Pedorthist in Training

Born and raised in Montana, Jesse is originally from Belt and moved to Kalispell in 2014. She has her bachelor of science in Kinesiology from Montana State University and is soon to have a second degree in nursing. In her free time, Jesse enjoys all Montana has to offer from spending time in the mountains to riding horses. With her husband, Kevin, and their two puppies Powder and Kintla, Jesse can often be found hiking, skiing, backpacking, and biking. She explains, “I love our team here at Step Ahead and working with a passionate and caring doctor to get people back to doing the things they enjoy. Our patients here feel more like family then they do ‘patients,’ and it is a joy seeing their foot pain improve.”

Julian Kaptanian

Patient Account and Care Coordinator

Born in Ketchikan, Alaska, Julian’s family moved to the Flathead Valley in 2002. Julian grew up in Kalispell, attending Flathead High School and continued her education at Montana State University. Julian graduated rather anticlimactically from MSU in the Spring of 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in the History of Science, Environment, Technology, and Society. Julian is a temporary member of the Step Ahead team, working before beginning her master’s program in the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology at the University of Oxford in October 2020. She is enjoying her summer in Kalispell and you can often find her hanging out with her parents, going on backpacking trips, canoeing, and trying to entertain the office.

Pam Larson


Pam was born in Ramsey County, St. Paul Minnesota. Pam grew up with her twin, younger brother, and her parents on a farm near Benson, Minnesota. Graduating from Benson High School, Pam continued her education at Willmar Technical College, graduating from their Office Assistant program. After working for The Land Magazine for a few years, Pam went back to college, attending Willmar Tech to continue studying office and payroll management. Pam has a diverse background in office management and worked at Northern Factory Sales for 31 years. After visiting Kalispell, Pam and her husband fell in love with all Montana has to offer. Moving here in 2016, Pam has worked in medical office management for over four years. She recently joining Step Ahead’s team and enjoys the feeling of accomplishment when helping patients get the care they need. Pam enjoys reading, jigsaw puzzles, working in her flower beds, and coffee dates with friends. She also enjoys camping and spending quality time with her husband, their Sheltie/Pomeranian dog Rocket, and their two cats, Nermal and Nilla.

Delbie Parsley

Certified Medical Assistant /Pedorthist in Training

Delbie was born and raised in Bigfork Montana. She attended Carrington College in Phoenix, Arizona where she undertook the medical assistant program and is now one of our office’s Certified Medical Assistants. Additionally, Delbie’s interdisciplinary training in both coding and orthotics makes her a multi-faceted and essential member of the Step Ahead Team. When outside the office, Delbie is a connoisseur of coffee, beer, and wine. She enjoys spending time with her husband and their two beagles, Penny and Sig.

Jodi Rio

Medical Assistant

Jodi is a Montana native who loves being active and outdoors. Jodi attended the University of Montana focusing on nursing and music studies. Jodi resided in the Missoula area for over 20 years and recently relocated to the Flathead Valley. Jodi has a diverse healthcare background in orthopedics and patient management. Jodi has a love for animals large and small, is a proud parent, and loves being a part of the Step Ahead team.

Our Location

40 Four Mile Drive Unit 8, Kalispell, MT, 59901

Hours of Operation

Our Regular Schedule


8:00 am-5:00 pm


8:00 am-5:00 pm


8:00 am-5:00 pm


8:00 am-5:00 pm