Program Reflection, Cohort 1
by Becky Edwards, Class of 2022, Bozeman
Within gazing distance of imposing Lone Peak, and with the soothing ambient noise of helicopter blades prepping the mountain for skiing this season, the first session of Leadership Montana compassionately gathered at Big Sky Resort in early September 2021.
As our state and nation continue navigating our “new normal” of the COVID pandemic, a roomful of respectful, open professionals from across the state took an important step in our shared commitment of gaining the knowledge and skills to more effectively listen, learn, and lead in our own communities. Whether it be large, group work or smaller breakout sessions, I was incredibly impressed with the commitment, empathy, and curiosity each participant in Leadership Montana’s 2022 class brought to this initial session.
For many years now, Leadership Montana had been on my bucket list. First as a single mama and then as a busy mama of three who also juggles an intense career, I could not fathom the travel and long-term commitment needed to invest in my own leadership and education. However, this global pandemic, the extremes we are seeing with our climate, and the harsh divides we now experience in politics, geography, and more, I found myself wondering “If not now, when?”
Now is the time we all must invest in growing our area of commonality, cultivate what unites instead of divides us, and put our skills and experience to use ensuring a better future for our kids, and theirs.
Thanks to the strong leadership of Chantel, Jerry, Marci, Anna, and the rest of the Leadership Montana staff and board, we have a safe, supported space to do this important work for the next ten months together – and years beyond in our own communities.
Program Reflection, Cohort 2
by Jody Verity, Class of 2022, Billings
As I reflect on our first gathering of Leadership Montana 2022; I think the word expectations comes to mind. As I prepared for a couple of days in beautiful Big Sky, Montana, with a group of complete strangers, my expectations were mixed. Your expectations become set by the information received from those attending before you, the amount of work you are leaving behind and the normal (for me) general unease of walking into a brand-new situation.
We were quickly tossed into an exercise that provided an opportunity to get to know those around us. We listened to our leaders give their stories and listened as each of us cautiously began to be both vulnerable and brave. In a short timeframe, it was quickly apparent that we all have diverse employers, experiences, and beliefs.
As the two days went on, I was impressed at how much effort, intention, and care that each of us used with exercises and conversations. It would have been easy to coast a little or put the weight on the staff of LMT. It did not feel like anyone coasted.
So, my expectations were raised. I left on Friday afternoon knowing the next year would be worth it. It would be worth my time, effort, days away from the office and my family. I left on a high. As I drove back down out of Big Sky, I had the windows open, the music playing and new expectations. I can’t wait to dig it when we all meet again.