Leadership Montana Blog: Gratitude a message from Chantel Schieffer
New President/CEO
June 30, 2023
Connecting for Impact
August 31, 2023


Message from president/CEO Kelly Heaton

Hello Leadership Montana Friends,

You have all heard them. The metaphors about water and challenges, and in my case, how they relate to a new job.

Keeping your head above water.
Drinking from the fire hose.
Swimming upstream.
Up the creek without a paddle.
Treading water.
In over your head.

Nearly everyone I’ve communicated with over the past six weeks has made one of these water references. Yes, all of these apply to my role as the new CEO, and while it sounds overly negative, the experience hasn’t been. It certainly has had moments of being overwhelming, and the learning curve has an incline, yet I’ve been supported all along the way by the amazing LMT staff and board team, as well as many of you. I have emails and texts from fellow alumni full of congratulations, gratitude, and encouragement. I received two voicemails that were so wonderful and uplifting that I’ve saved them for when I need a boost of confidence.

As an eternal optimist, all of this has me thinking about the positive power of water. Water is life. It nourishes, it carves rock to form canyons, we can harness it to create energy, and we can learn from its persistence. There is a Swedish proverb, “Rough waters are truer tests of leadership. In calm waters, every ship has a good captain.” In a time of great division and political polarity, we can use our leadership skills and connections to navigate these waters. With our newly graduated class of alumni, we are nearly 1,000 strong, and collectively we have the power to sculpt and shape our communities across the state for good. We can be in the water, ride the wave, work with the currents, and be the rising tide to lift all boats. I am honored to swim with all of you and look forward to the channels in which we’ll meet over the coming months. Until then, float on, and enjoy this beautiful Montana summer.

With love and gratitude,

Kelly Heaton
President & CEO
Class of 2014, Masters 2019