Leadership Montana Program Reflection: Jill Alban & Nicole Smith, Class of 2022, Missoula
Becky Edwards
Flagship Session: Becky Edwards and Jody Verity
September 30, 2021
Flagship Session 3: Jess Melin
November 30, 2021


Jill Alban, Class of 2022, Missoula

Program Reflection, Cohort 1

by Jill Alban, Class of 2022, Missoula

At the conclusion of Session 2 in Whitefish, Chantel asked us to reflect on what we had learned about ourselves over the past few days. I couldn’t think of anything meaningful to say at that very moment, so I didn’t raise my hand (although I’ll be honest, as an extrovert, I really wanted to).

It was easier to think back on all I had learned about the members of my cohort. Jess’s dedication to his church and family. Sara’s “Sliding Doors” moment as an almost-spy for the CIA. Jim’s love of peak-bagging. How Amy D’s father used to sit her on his lap and tell her she could be whatever a man could be — and more.

Chantel’s question reminded me of a similar prompt from the day before. On Day 2, in our Gracious Space training, Carmen had asked us to consider how it was so easy to give compliments or “gifts” to others, but that most of us find it difficult to do the same for ourselves.

I suppose the answer as to “why” we don’t always feel comfortable talking or even thinking about ourselves is relatively straightforward––we may feel like we’re bragging. Or it may feel false because the inner voice that says  “you’re not good enough” continues to clamor away between our ears as we’re trying to give voice to our strengths.

But, in the days following Session 2, I did actually land on what I learned about myself. And it happens to be a thing I like about myself, to boot.

I learned that I really like to dwell in frontiers. By frontiers I mean: metaphorical or literal places where individuals or groups are (either willingly or by force) trying something new.  Places where I am learning or trying something new.

Like during the tour of Defiance Gun Manufacturing. Or the tour of Stoltz Lumber. Or in listening to the panel of community leaders in the Flathead Valley. Or at my table on Day 3, brainstorming with Jon, Kendra, and Tony as to how to actually make internal meetings productive.

I’m grateful for the way Leadership Montana cultivates a frontier for each of us to explore. And in particular, for the depth of community in our cohort that emerged during Session 2. It’s a gift to be a part of this community, one that celebrates learning in public, pushing boundaries, and connecting.

I’m excited to see what emerges on the other side.