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Out of Crisis and Conflict...Opportunity

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.

Leadership Montana’s strength is due to generous individuals, corporations, and foundations who believe in our mission of developing leaders committed to building a better Montana. These partners are deeply connected to our work and success.

To celebrate our 15th anniversary, we invite you to become a monthly donor, helping to sustain us into the next 15 years. 

Monthly giving allows us to establish funding that we can count on each month while providing you an easy way to support our nonprofit. $15 a month goes a long way to helping sustain our work across Montana! 

Yes, I'll be a Monthly Donor


Joel Rosette
Class of 2015
Box Elder
Interviewed by Heather Sobrepena, Class of 2018

Joel Rosette and wife Bonnell (St. Goddard) and their boys Oliver (3) and Julius (14) and girls JayQuinn (5), Kyla (14), and Joelnell (16) live in Box Elder, MT.  Joel owns and manages Joel Rosette Law, PLLC a tribal law practice representing tribal firms and entities.  Joel recently coached the 2018 State C Girls Box Elder Bears in their first state championship title in 20 years.  For Joel, his coaching and wisdom with which he leads his team are more than words or advice.  It’s everything one does in any walk of life, displaying and modeling choices and actions, treatment of people, work ethic, practice, energy, and responsibility.  Leadership isn’t being the best player or scorer.  It’s doing one’s best ‘thing’ as part of a team…together.

In reflecting on the role of LMT, Joel confirms that bringing people together from all walks of life with different priorities from across Montana: rural to urban, mountains to prairies, big mountains to little ones to learn about leadership, experience Montana’s communities, and practice Gracious Space is what being a Montanan is all about.  This is what LMT does for its participants: it unites the beauty of Montana’s land and people.  Montana is a state and state of mind that invites the stranger in all of us because of (and despite) who we are and where we come from in a meaningful connection to one another.

Joel’s favorite memory of Leadership Montana (LMT) class of 2015 is the opening Big Sky session.  He forced himself to step out of his own way despite his introverted preference, unfamiliarity with Big Sky, and doubt about LMT’s application to his life. The first Gracious Space (GS) session with Carmen was an eye-opener for Joel about the common thread between himself and his classmates of different backgrounds.  While already an adept communicator, GS principles continue to shape Joel’s communication with people around tough situations and negotiations.  

Beyond the introductory doubt and uncertainty, for Joel, LMT has reinforced a connection to others with the confidence/call to action to pursue deeper purpose in his community.  He recently started a community non-profit, Mah-mo-wi (“mamo-way”) which roughly translated means ‘everything comings together,’ focusing on Rocky Boys tribal youth leadership. The concept of Mah-mo-wi was fortified by Joel’s LMT experience, and much like basketball, Mah-mo-wi has a mission is to build and translate youth experiences into life and leadership skills. His post-championship coaching wisdom to the girls is witness.  ‘The basketball will stop bouncing.  Life goes on.  Use these skills you’ve sharpened for basketball in other ways to enhance your life.  This game is a highlight in your life; It is not the highlight of your life.  The ball is just one of many tools you’ll learn to use throughout your life and everything you’ve learned and experienced about basketball will apply to all of everything.’  

And so too, is the opportunity to apply the Leadership Montana experience to the rest of life: Listen.  Learn.  Lead.

With Honors

This month at The Confluence in Kalispell, we were excited to honor two of our esteemed alumni with our annual awards for service and leadership. The descriptions of these alumnae come from their respective nomination letters. 

Jen Hensley (2016) was given theAlumni Leadership Award,awarded annually to LMT alumni who demonstrate outstanding leadership in keeping with and expanding the LMT philosophy in his/her community and/or the state. 

Today’s combative and divided environment calls on mentors and leaders capable of working in concert with others, able to collaborate in creative endeavors, innovate, inspire, and contribute without dominating other opinions. It is her extraordinary poise and style in contributing her best to all her undertakings that creates an environment that draws the very best from her colleagues.

Jen has continues to sharpen her skills by becoming a Gracious Space facilitator this spring, demonstrating her commitment and passion to help build a better Montana.

Heather Collins (2016) was given the Alumni Service Award, awarded annually to LMT alumni who demonstrate outstanding commitment and service to LMT through support of the program and/or alumni.

Heather is committed to leadership and engagement. I see this in her dedicated service in the Leadership Montana Development and Alumni Committees. She always gives 110% and follows through with every task she agrees to do. I believe grew tremendously during her LM experience, listening, learning, and deeply understanding gracious space. She is now sharing that experience with others through her work with Eagle Mount and in the community. It is clear she wants LM, and Montana, to succeed by the extra time and energy she puts in to helping with events and supporting class representatives. She is a constant reminder to me of patience, grace, collaboration, and willingness to learn.

Anna and Chantel also honored Jen Davis (2009) with the Rockstar Award for her incredible work as the new Alumni Relations Manager. 


This month we shine our spotlight on Gold Sponsor Big Sky Resort, the host of our annual Orientation and Retreat. Each September, we look forward to gathering in this familiar and beautiful location as we convene a new class of remarkable Montana leaders. Our friends at Big Sky provide us with the perfect "setting" to introduce Gracious Space, our leadership curriculum and team, and the class mates to each other. Thank you for rolling out the red carpet for us. 


Upcoming Events 

October 10-13 - Flagship Program in Philipsburg & Butte
October 10- Butte Alumni Reception with Class of 2019
October 24-26 - Masters Class - Session 1

Special Events
December 5-6 Men's Retreat
December 5-6 Women's Retreat
Leadership Montana is a non-profit collaboration of leaders from business, labor, healthcare, higher education, non-profits and government coming together to form a strong partnership for the betterment of Montana.

Leadership Montana exists to develop leaders committed to building a better Montana through knowledge, collaboration and civility.
Header Photo by Todd Klassy

Copyright © 2018 Leadership Montana, All rights reserved.

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