An interview with Peter Strauss, Class of 2013, Helena as interviewed by Jan Stoddard, Class of 2019, Helena
Entering Peter Strauss’s office, your eye is instantly drawn to a large painting on the wall behind his desk. With a cursory glance, it resembles an artwork piece any proud parent would display. However, it is the product of a team challenge at the concluding Leadership Montana experience. The painting depicts words and images symbolic of their Leadership MT journey. And, like the painting, you will find that Peter Strauss embodies these same principles.
As compliance officer for the Montana State Fund, Peter has the interesting job of aligning the business practices of an insurance company with compliance required by multiple statutes, governing bodies, and consumer regulations. He is also on the Board of Directors for the Valley Bank of Helena and is a member of the Great Divide Ski Patrol. Cindy, his wife, is a psychologist who works on national research, education, and program development in social work. Two cats and adult son Michael, an aerospace engineer in Connecticut, round out the household.
Peter and Cindy came to Montana via New York, Illinois and Colorado. It was a choice they have never regretted. Peter explains, “Montana is all about what America should be, where people take care of each other, look out for their neighbors and the land is special from eastern ranches and farms to the mountains in the west.”
They are also gracious hosts opening their exquisite 1905 historic home, built from a Montgomery Ward house kit, to community meetings and fundraisers and international visitors. The best summer evenings are spent entertaining with evening movies on the front porch or participating in block parties with a bouncy castle set up in the side yard.
Peter follows Leadership Montana principles by focusing on better learning through allowing others to speak, listening from another’s perspectives, and remembering you can achieve more with common courtesy and respect. He recalls an example when Gracious Space went from concept to practice during a class conversation about Yellowstone Park bison.
When asked about the role of Leadership Montana’s, Peter replies,” There is a deep connection with those in Leadership MT where you can have an open, honest, even raw conversation.” More concretely, Peter sees new opportunities developing through local meetings such as the recent Helena Community Conversations.
As a volunteer, Peter is passionate about his work with Helena Big Brothers Big Sisters. As Board Chair and Big Brother, Peter emulates the compassion and engagement he learned from his own father. As he notes, “the real value comes from being able to create positive change, one individual at a time.”
Peter’s other passion, skiing and being a member of Great Divide Ski Patrol, is never far from mind or sight. A coat stand integrating a pair of Atomic skis that met an early demise is just outside his office. Peter’s goal when reaching retirement is to continue to learn by becoming an EMT, and even better ski patroller. It’s just another example of Peter’s dedication to life-long learning and a legacy of leadership.