At our annual Celebrate Montana dinner in April, our Board Chair Amy Kellogg (’13) addressed the sell-out crowd with inspiration, humor, and imagination. Amy’s words touched everyone in the room as illustrated by the standing ovation she received. I want to share her inspiration with all of you here. As Amy’s term as Chair of the Board of Governors comes to a close, I extend my sincerest gratitude for her fierce leadership, constant inspiration, and lifelong friendship.
Magic… do you believe in Magic? I do…. First it was Dorothy’s ruby slippers which not only were sparkling but had tremendous magic in them. Later it was Harry Potter and his friends – it was magic that brought together a cast of characters from all walks of life to Hogwarts and beyond. Then five years ago I found a different magic – a magic that has touched everyone in this room – be it directly or indirectly. That magic is Leadership Montana.
That Magic starts when we meet as a class for the first time in Big Sky… and despite our internal voices saying “what am I doing here”. It’s like someone spreads some pixie dust and we slowly begin to get to know 40+ folks who we never knew before and start to open our minds and hearts. Now it doesn’t always happen for all of us in Big Sky… sometimes it takes a few sessions, but eventually the magic of Leadership Montana finds each of us.
Like the instructors & staff at Hogwarts, our trainers, Jerry & Carmen, and staff Jenn, Anna, and Chantel are filled with magic and wisdom. Sometimes it’s obvious and sometimes more subtle. As they teach us how to deeply listen – to be curious – dive into issues facing us as a state and have civil discussions with folks who may offer diverse perspectives – to be gracious – to be the best leaders we can.
As Alumni the magic continues as we begin to grow and develop friends across classes and communities. We make new friends at either a LM community event or a statewide event, such as tonight’s dinner, The Confluence or Lessons in Leadership. Even at non LM community or statewide events you will almost always find LM Alumni and when LM Alumni come together, you can always see the sparkle around them and sense magic happening as we begin to use what we learned while in class – to lead with our hearts – to invite the stranger and learn in public – to truly build a better Montana.
Also as Alumni, our friendships continue deepen – which I find can be rare as adults. Folks drive hours to go to a classmates side when a loved one passes away… help lend a hand to a cause near and dear to a classmates heart… or perhaps dance the night away at a classmates wedding…
With 110 Alumni volunteering for Leadership Montana, be it in their community or on an organizational wide capacity. Our volunteers are committed in a way that I have heard time and time again is unusual. Whether it is a call to work a welcome desk at an event such as tonight to serving on a committee or the Board of Governors… when called, they always say “Yes of course…and what else can I do”. That’s magic….
The room tonight is filled with folks who are not alumni, but who may be spouses/partners/family members/business associates who have been touched by Leadership Montana in one way or another. No doubt you have watched their “LM person” grow both personally and professionally. Recently an alumni member shared a story with me about how they navigated a tough family situation with their spouse and children and how grateful they were to have Gracious Space. While you may not have been not in class, I hope you have benefited from the magic….
In 2013 I stood in this room with my classmates, celebrating a year of road tripping across the state and deep personal growth with laughter, tears, and hugs.
It was then I realized then that I believed – just like Dorothy’s journey to discover the magic of her ruby slippers – and how Harry realized that his magic was stronger because of his friendships – that I truly believed in magic.
On the day of graduating, our hearts are heavy and it seems that the end of something magical has ended. And as Hermione said to Ron and Harry at the end of their school year “Everything is going to change now, isn’t it?”…
To the class of 2018, it is about to change… you are about to become a member of the Leadership Montana alumni.
A group of individuals who not only sparkle from the magic Leadership Montana, but that also help create magic.
Amy Kellogg, Class 2013, Leadership Montana Board Chair
Given at the Celebrate Montana Dinner
Thursday April 26, 2018