Leadership Montana alumni in action, Mike O'Neill, class of 2007.
Donna Erwin
July 5, 2017
Stacy Klippenstein
July 5, 2017


Mike O’Neill, NorthWestern Energy, class of 2007 Board of Governors.

Leadership Montana alumni in action, Mike O'Neill, class of 2007.Tell us about you… what do you do, where do you live, family life.

I was born and raised in Butte. Graduate of Butte Central and the University of Montana. I’ve worked for NorthWestern Energy (Montana Power) for close to 36 years in various capacities. Currently I’m the Director of Organizational Development and Labor Relations. I married my college sweetheart, Karen (Walker) O’Neill and together we have a grown daughter Katie, son-in-law Jack Woldtvedt and a 10-month old grandson, Riley, who is the center of our world these days. In addition to LM, I’ve been very active for the past 35 years at the University of Montana serving on various boards and committees. I’ve also served on a number of other Boards and commissions over my career. I like to golf, fish, and tinker around in my wood shop.


Tell us about a favorite memory from the Class of 2007?

There are so many… Our class visited Sidney, a place I had never been to before. I recall being very impressed with the people and the community. They were very candid about how the last oil boom and bust cycle impacted them both personally and professionally and that was the reason for their caution in infrastructure development related to the oil boom that was developing at that time. Being from Butte and experiencing the booms and busts of the Anaconda Copper Company while growing up, as well as the experience I had personally with Montana Power / Touch America, I really related with what these great people were going through and those feelings have always stayed with me.

I also recall how welcoming the folks at the Cadillac bar were to all of us and how much we all appreciated their hospitality (and their mac & cheese).


What has been the strongest impact that Leadership Montana has made on your life, professionally or personally?

The strongest impact on me has been the concepts we learned in the Gracious Space training we all received. Those concepts have become second nature to me and have served me well both personally and professionally.

I would also say that the networking has been important to me. Some of the closest friends I have to date, I met though my class and/ or through my LM Board service. I can’t imagine my life today without these individuals as treasured friends.


What do you see as the role for Leadership Montana in our state?

Our “tag line” says it best. LM exists because Montana deserves great leaders. LM fills an important role in helping organizations develop the leadership potential of their high potential employees. From Gracious Space; to learning more about yourself and what makes you tick as well as learning concepts that can make you more effective as an individual; more about the value of diversity; more about the communities we visit; to excellent networking opportunities.

It is not coincidental that so many of our graduates have excelled personally and professionally. The life skills LM exposes people to have made, and will continue to make, a huge difference for those people and for our state.


Finally, tell us what you appreciate most about Montana.

I appreciate that Montana is my home and will always be my home!!

I appreciate my wife of 36+ years and that she continues to be my best and closest friend. As well as the beauty of the mountains and the plains, especially when I can enjoy some of the beauty on a golf course. I also appreciate the feeling of being on a river on a nice day with close friends. I appreciate NorthWestern Energy and I especially appreciate all of the people I have the honor to work with.

I’m especially appreciative of Chantel, Anna, and the Leadership Montana Board for continuing to make this program better each and every year so that others can benefit from this experience.