Imagine a particularly challenging time in Montana’s recent history. It was the early 2000s and political divides ran deep; common ground was elusive. A group of top leaders from business, government, education, labor, and healthcare was called together by a common vision of finding ways for us to work better together by bridging those political divides and understanding that our similarities far outnumber our differences. After months of research and big ideas, Leadership Montana was created.
Leadership Montana exists to develop leaders committed to building a better Montana through knowledge, collaboration, and civility. We are a collaboration of leaders from all professional sectors and all communities of our state coming together to form a strong partnership for the betterment of Montana.
This year, we celebrate the 15th anniversary of the confluence of those determined, forward-thinking leaders who founded what has now moved beyond that flagship program to include alumni programming and events as well as public offerings and trainings. We gather some of the most accomplished minds to deeply discuss the issues facing Montana today. That program called Leadership Montana has grown into the premier leadership development organization in our state.
Nearly 600 participants have graduated from our flagship program who then join our alumni network consisting of the state’s most influential professionals. With an increased awareness and commitment to service, our alumni shape Montana’s future with enhanced leadership skills and a deepened knowledge of the challenges and opportunities facing Montana.
We owe our founding members a great deal of gratitude for starting something from nothing – something that has positively impacted thousands across Montana. Out of crisis and conflict grew opportunities for civility and collaboration.
Much like our founders 15 years ago felt compelled to build a better Montana, so are we compelled to evolve and endure. Our ever-changing culture may bring new challenges of division and discord, but it also brings new opportunities to bring people together, forming meaningful relationships and foundations for true collaborative endeavors.
Happy anniversary, Leadership Montana. Here’s to the next 15 years – and beyond.
Chantel Schieffer is president and CEO of Leadership Montana.