Imagine a particularly challenging time in Montana’s recent history. It was the early 2000s and political divides ran deep; common ground was elusive. A group of top leaders from business, government, education, labor, and healthcare were called together by a common vision of finding ways for us to work better together by bridging those political divides and understanding that our similarities far outnumber our differences. After months of research and big ideas, Leadership Montana was created.
This year, we celebrate the 15th anniversary of the confluence of those determined, forward-thinking leaders who founded what has now moved beyond that flagship program to include alumni programming and events as well as public offerings and training. That program called Leadership Montana has grown into the premier leadership development organization in our state.
We owe our founding members a great deal of gratitude for starting something from nothing – something that has positively impacted thousands across Montana. Out of crisis and conflict grew opportunities for civility and collaboration.
I recently had the great honor to spend time with Tom Scott, our primary founder and former CEO of First Interstate Bank. As we talked about life and leadership, we imagined the impact that Leadership Montana could make in another 15 years.
“It’s not every day that we get to change someone’s life,” Tom said to me. “But in Leadership Montana, we can.” Indeed, we can and often we do. Individual impacts create a ripple effect across our communities and truly can change humanity.
Much like our founders 15 years ago felt compelled to build a better Montana, so are we compelled to evolve and endure. Our ever-changing culture may bring new challenges of division and discord, but it also brings new opportunities to bring people together, forming meaningful relationships and foundations for true collaborative endeavors.
Anna, Jen, our Board of Governors, and I think every day about how we can make the Leadership Montana experience one of exceptional value to our participants, alumni, and citizenry of our state. Our ideas are as big as our Montana sky and our opportunities are nearly as limitless. The work is far from finished. In many ways, we’re just getting started.
Happy Anniversary, Leadership Montana. Here’s to the next 15 years…and beyond.