An interview with Heather Collins, Class of 2016, Masters Class 2019 – Bozeman, as interviewed by Rachel Haberman, Class of 2018 – Helena
Heather Collins is the Development Director at Eagle Mount in Bozeman. She and her husband Zac moved to Montana with their two girls 13 years ago. In addition to their regular jobs, they stay busy helping Zac’s parents with their hydroponic tomato farm.
Most people associated with Leadership Montana have life-changing experiences during the class and Heather is no exception. One of her favorite memories related to LM occurred in Whitefish when she connected on a very deep level with a classmate over dinner, the CEO of a hospital. It was someone she would never have had the opportunity to meet were it not for Leadership Montana – and a person whom she somewhat tended to place on a pedestal. This experienced helped her recognize that one can pre-judge people in both positive and negative lights. Rather than assuming someone is too far “above” her, she realized she needed to let go of that preconception, get to know them, let them get to know her, and in the process learn more about herself. It changed her perspective on how she views herself among her peers.
“When you pre-judge, you don’t have the opportunity to develop those kind of relationships,” said Heather.
Leadership Montana also had a huge impact on how Heather views conflict, something she disliked and avoided. She would often just shut down and walk away. Jerry Evans pointed out in one of his training sessions that responding that way basically tells the other person they are not important enough to deal with. This idea changed Heather’s view of conflict in all areas, but especially helped her communicate better with her husband. Heather said it so well: “You may not want the conflict, but having the conversation is worth it.”
Heather believes Leadership Montana’s chief role is providing a venue for creating relationships locally and statewide. This helps support and lift Montana up, continuing to make it a wonderful place. “Leadership Montana helps connect the right people to each other to ensure we’re doing everything we can for this community of Montana.” In fact, the things Heather most appreciates about Montana are the community and the relationships. Growing up in southern California she heard the word “community” but never truly understood what it meant until she moved here. “Bozeman and Montana are perfect examples of what community is,” said Heather.
Heather volunteers on the Leadership Montana Alumni Committee currently serving as the Class Rep Liaison and also volunteers on the Development Committee. Thank you Heather!