Leadership Montana alumni in action: John Trudnowski, Butte - Class of 2018
Melissa Shannon
March 31, 2023
Nancy Schlepp
May 31, 2023


Mike Worden, Helena, Class of 2018

Mike Worden, Helena,  Class of 2018

Interviewed by Jill Alban, Missoula, Class of 2022

Mike Worden graduated from Leadership Montana in 2018. Since graduating, he’s often thought to himself, I should have done this a long time ago. But then he wouldn’t have been a part of “The Great One Eight.”

As Mike put it to me with a big smile, “Leadership Montana has taken me to the next level personally, and these are the same skills I also use professionally. Sure, I wish I would have been able to do this a long time ago. But being in the class of the ‘Great One Eight’ … the best of all time … well, I guess it was worth the wait.”

Mike’s sense of humor and kindness shined in our interview, as I imagine it also shines in his interactions with his fellow humans at work and beyond. In his role as a Human Resources Senior Generalist at Montana State Fund,* Mike specializes in employment law and labor relations. Montana State Fund* is the state’s largest workers’ compensation insurance company, protecting approximately 25,000 businesses, organizations, and their workers. In his position, Mike’s goal is simple – to make work as enjoyable as possible for the thousands of employees whose lives are touched and impacted by MSF’s programs and services.

I’m making a guess here, but I imagine that kindness and empathy just may be on Mike’s list of personal values. Not only is he in a professional role that has everything to do with human relationships and interactions, he also names the people as one of the top things he loves about living in Montana.

“In my experience, Montanans are very giving,” explains Mike. “I’m involved in a lot of nonprofit boards and organizations. When we go to our downtown and local businesses asking others to get involved, people are always willing to donate to these good causes. We’re willing to help each other.”

Mike encounters a similar quality of neighbors looking out for one another when he’s out exploring the rivers or mountains near Helena, where he’s lived for the past 14 years.

“Very seldom do I feel a need to place a lock on my trailer when I float the river,” says Mike. “We’re lucky to have what we have here.”

Mike should know – when he’s not working, he spends his off-time outdoors as much as possible. He has been a ski patrol, he is certified in Swiftwater Rescue, and he loves camping, fishing, and hunting.

Knowing he loves exploring with his friends, it’s not surprising to hear that one of Mike’s favorite memories from Leadership Montana involved the journey to get there––and spending time with people along the way.

“Our class trip to Sidney, Montana was one of my favorite Leadership Montana memories, explains Mike. “All of us in Helena rented a van and took turns driving. We picked a few classmates up in Bozeman and Livingston and kept going. We had ice chests on board … you can imagine what ensued for the 8-hour drive. It was really, really fun, and I had some incredible conversations. We had to roll out of the van into our rooms that Sunday night.”

Today, Mike keeps in touch with many of his classmates from “The Great One Eight.” And he also carries with him the impact of Gracious Space.

“Some days, all I need is the word to remind me,” says Mike. “I just think to myself – Gracious Space. Those words alone can bring me back to the awareness to be aware and think about others’ perspectives in tough moments.”