It is hard to find Leadership Montana alumni who have not been impacted by Bruce Whittenberg. Even when he is not standing in front of the class, his influence remains. He, along with Sharon Peterson, our original Board members and Founders created the program we know and love today. Bruce remains a key adviser to me and a constant presence in Leadership Montana. In April, we presented Bruce with the Tom Scott Award for Excellence in Leadership. His leadership, humor, and love for Montana shine through in all that he does. Here’s Bruce…
Since September of 2011, I have had the honor of being the Director of the Montana Historical Society in Helena. The work of the 152-year-old MHS spans the state with educational programs, historic preservation, sharing of collections and support for our colleagues, all to tell the wonderful, rich stories of Montana. This is my second “tour of duty” in Helena. My family first moved to Helena in 1993 when I was named publisher of the Helena Independent Record, followed by stint as publisher of the Billings Gazette.
The most important accomplishment of my life has been as a father. I have two amazing sons, Jake and Jonathan. Jake is a 5-time Emmy-Award winning broadcast journalist and news anchor with KING5 in Seattle. He and Tara have two beautiful children, Lula, 5, and Oliver, 3. That makes me one proud Grandpa. Jon and Beth live in Bozeman. Jon is a graphic designer for a cool company, Spark R&D, that designs and manufactures splitboard (snowboard) bindings for an international market. I’m so proud of my family.
Having been with Leadership Montana for 8 years or so (54 sessions, count’em!), there are a bunch of memories. Each class had its own personality and made its own memories. Perhaps most interesting was observing as each class would come together and “click.” You know the feeling. When that process of bonding really starts. It seemed to come a little earlier in the year with each class. I really enjoyed watching the relationships develop and the trust build. Other memories are probably best left to the legends and lore of Leadership Montana. You know, “What happens at Leadership Montana…” (CMS: Moving on…)
It’s all about the people. I love the quote from Parker Palmer, “We are formed by the lives which intersect with ours. The larger and richer our community, the larger and richer is the content of self.” Having known some 400 members of Leadership Montana has made me a better person and hopefully a better leader. Leadership Montana changed my life.
The community of Leadership Montana holds the future of our state in our hands. Whether as public leaders, nonprofit leaders, business leaders or as great role models, we are building a future of collaboration and trust that will hopefully lead to civil public discourse, problem-solving and a thoughtful shaping of our state for future generations. This was the vision shared by Tom Scott back in 2003. We’re not there yet and I would challenge all of Leadership Montana to be a part of that vision.
Having grown up in Illinois, The Land of Lincoln, I don’t recall having a particular appreciation or pride in “place.” Montana is so different in that regard. We are so proud to be Montanans (most of the time). We’re proud of our scenic beauty, sense of our heritage, spirit of adventure and the unique qualities it takes to live in Big Sky Country. This is a pretty awesome place with some really remarkable stories and, of course, wonderful people.
Bruce, you are one of those wonderful people. You make Montana better. Thank you.