An interview with Heather Sobrepena, Class of 2018 – Helena as interviewed by Lisa Koski, Class of 2019 – Glasgow
Heather Sobrepena works for the Montana Department of Commerce and manages the Indian Country Programs, which include nine different grant oversight programs. She is a member of the MniCoujou band of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and a descendent of the Crow Nation as well as a third generation Filipino-American.
She is a single mom of four children ages 12 to 23, three boys and a girl. Heather and her children live in East Helena, where she chose to raise her children after being raised in the same community. In her “spare” time, she is working on her Master’s in Public Administration, while following her son in basketball.
Heather, like everyone associated with Leadership Montana had life-changing experiences during her class time and emphasizes how tight her class is. One of her fondest memory of the class was when they were in Bozeman, MT and the class was staying at the Sacagawea Hotel. The hotel has an older limo that they took out to a classmate’s house. The driver didn’t really know how to drive the limo and ended up hitting the side of the garage and then took off across the lawn, almost hitting the outside playhouse. Heather states, “I don’t know if you have noticed, but you start living Gracious Space in every moment of your life”.
Leadership Montana has enabled her to understand her own personality traits. Being a very strong introvert, she realized that the stereotypes out there that introverts can’t be leaders, is so not true. She didn’t recognize her own worth or having a voice at the table. LMT training enabled her to get out of her comfort zone and become vulnerable at learning in public. She has learned to speak out more and that her voice does have a seat at the table. Heather felt she was always waiting on others to lead and being the support person to make them look better, when in reality she needed to use her own voice and step up.
Heather believes, “there are many opportunities for Gracious Space, for the work that needs to be done within communities, organizations, and the state”. The Gracious Space model is critically important in our lives and a great place to come together and have decent conversations with kindness and compassion, in spite of our different views. Understanding each other’s views is very critical component of Gracious Space.
“Montana has an unspoiled goodness about her that you cannot find anywhere else in the world. It’s a combination of the people and place that doesn’t seem to exist in any other place. What is it they show on the slide in the first session?…Montana is one long main street, with lots of stops (towns) along the way. We are all a part of this one community called Montana.”