Leadership Montana Program Reflection: Molly Davidson (Missoula), Class of 2022
Masters Class Session: Alan Ruby
May 31, 2023
Confluence Spotlight: Sidney
May 31, 2023


Ben Thiem, Class of 2023, Kalispell

Flagship Reflection

Ben Thiem, Kalispell, Flagship Class of 2023

Eight months ago, our Flagship class sat in a circle together in Big Sky as a group of strangers beginning our Leadership Montana experience. In what seemed like the blink of an eye, we went on an extraordinary journey to communities across the state to meet area leaders, tour interesting businesses and buildings, gain new insights into industries in our state, learn and practice Gracious Space conversations, and deepen our relationships with each other. In April, our time together culminated along the Hi-Line with our last session in Havre.

 At our final class meeting, we had a lot of ground to cover in only a few days. On Wednesday, we completed a yearly review of what we had learned with Hatton and Carmen and then pivoted some of our planned Gracious Space lessons to watch the legislature live as the House debated and then voted to ban one of their own representatives from attending or speaking during the remaining floor sessions. Putting all of our Gracious Space training into practice, we then weighed the decision by our legislators, listening intently to every voice at the table and seeking to learn and better understand all sides of the issue. I felt very fortunate to be in a Leadership Montana space that day and have the opportunity to put into practice what we had learned.

On Thursday, we began the day with a panel of Havre leaders representing different industries and entities, including healthcare, energy, non-profits, and border patrol. After the panel, we had the opportunity to visit Stone Child College at the Rocky Boy Reservation for most of the day. Leadership Montana alums Jim Swan and Joel Rosette led our visit and shared incredible kindness, generosity, honesty, and humor with us. We learned about Rocky Boy’s history, observed traditional dances, and participated in panels about healthcare and the Chippewa-Cree Tribe’s efforts to restore a bison population. It was one of my favorite Leadership Montana experiences in a year of many. Following our time at Rocky Boy, we went to the campus at MSU Northern for a tour and reception with Chancellor Kegel. The highlight of the tour was the impressive new Diesel Technology Center building.

The final morning was memorable and emotional as we opened our treasure boxes to read the heartfelt notes from all of our classmates. We shared our personal commitments to be engaged leaders in Montana, and wrapped up our time with a closing circle with no shortage of tears and laughs. Afterwards, many stayed longer than usual to say goodbyes, share gratitude for the new friendships and experiences of the last year, and make plans for graduation in Butte and future gatherings. Look out, Montana, the Leadership Montana Class of ‘23 has big plans and is ready to GSD.