Leadership Montana alumni in action: John Trudnowski, Butte - Class of 2018
Lisa Koski
April 30, 2022

ALUMNI IN ACTION

John Trudnowski, Butte – Class of 2018

Tory Atkins, Bozeman, Class of 2014, Masters Class 2019

Interviewed by Emily Yost, Livingston, Class of 2022

From Bozeman, Tory supports the Special Olympics. He is struck by the positive outlook of the athletes. His service to Special Olympics is also the place he made meaningful introductions to Murdoch’s Ranch and Home Supply, where he has been the Chief Human Resources Officer since 2017. His wife is a grade school teacher and his children are both involved with Special Olympics as volunteer coaches and as a member of a physical education class for students with disabilities. He is passionate about sports, including coaching youth sports for both of his kids.

Tory’s other passion is serving on the National Advisory Board of the Montana State University Leadership Institute, where Leadership Montana alumni and trainer Carmen McSpadden is the director. He says it is a chance to mentor student leaders, who bring in speakers from around the world (virtually during COVID), introduce and moderate sessions, and get experience in marketing and project management. He was introduced to the Leadership Institute when his Flagship Class visited the Bozeman campus in 2014. Leadership Institute students facilitated icebreakers for the Leadership Montana class.

Some of his favorite Leadership Montana memories are carpooling with classmates from the Flagship Class of 2014 and Masters Class of 2019. Tory says you learn a lot and can be inspired in this setting when you can get into long and deep conversations. The relationships you build with classmates happen after hours–dinners and drives outside of class are always special. It took time to get to know classmates in the large Flagship Class, and in the Masters Class, relationships happen within half a day with people you might know of but have not met. The Masters’ experience hit home with who he was as a leader, and who he wanted to be. He said the Leadership Challenge content was powerful, and it was a good reinforcement of everything from the Flagship class and brought the next level of Gracious Space.

Tory sees an opportunity for Leadership Montana to inspire, influence, and be a role model in Montana. The principles of Gracious Space and respecting differences, combined with asking powerful questions result, in most cases, in people feeling listened to in a respectful, civil way. One of the most dangerous things to do going into a conversation is thinking you have the answer; you don’t have to prove yourself. As alumni, we have the responsibility to amplify this message of civility and Gracious Space. There are many conversations in Bozeman today he would not have felt comfortable jumping in before the mentors and relationships built through Leadership Montana. When he brings his curiosity, he doesn’t have to walk in as an expert or pick a side.

Tory sees hope in the population size of Montana–we are only about 1 million people strong; we can make it if we all decide to come together. He sees the need to elect leaders rather than people because of their political affiliations, to elect people with integrity and who don’t have answers, but bring their curiosity and the experience we’ve had through Leadership Montana.