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A Year In Review - Annual Report Message

Despite another year in which our society is still grappling with the enormous effects of a global pandemic, Leadership Montana finds ourselves growing with unique opportunities to help navigate these times.

Over this year, we have helped elected officials find new ways to work together. We are developing a new program to bridge cultural divides in our state. We are expanding our flagship program to double our impact on leaders in Montana. We are stepping up to address the myriad challenges facing our society today.

When they needed it most, we pulled together two cohorts of legislators – Democrats and Republicans – for our inaugural Leadership Montana for Legislators workshops. We taught them the collaborative leadership model of Gracious Space and watched as they started to rebuild relationships upon which they can build better ways of working together. My favorite quote from a participant says it all:

“In two days, we tore down barriers that we built over four months of the legislative session.”

We are excited to watch this new program grow into one that we truly believe will help create a culture of collaboration in our state house.

Along those lines, we see an opportunity to help bridge divides between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Montanans through a new program we will be launching in 2022. With the confidence and support of the M.J. Murdock Trust, we are well-positioned to dig deep into our courage and create something that we believe will help change the fabric of our society.

Even with these exciting new opportunities, we will never lose sight of our primary purpose – our flagship program. Leadership matters now more than ever and our application process proved that with a pool so deep that we are expanding to offer two cohorts. This opportunity to double our impact will enable us to grow our network of committed trustees working together to build a better Montana.

To be sure, this is still a challenging time for all of us. At Leadership Montana, we are doing our part to ensure that our leaders have tools and skills to navigate these times with courage, grace, and civility. In my seven years in this seat, I have never been more proud of Leadership Montana and the many ways in which we are all making this world a little bit brighter.

Be well and lead well,

Chantel M. Schieffer
President & CEO
Class of 2010, Masters 2019

VIEW Leadership Montana's Annual Report
We have a big lift at Leadership Montana and we need YOUR help. We have openings for members for two committees that have a significant impact on our mission and organization.

This NEW committee is charged with: 

       1. Designing and implementing strategic initiatives to recruit participants into Leadership Montana's Flagship program. An important focus will be on encouraging participation from underrepresented populations and geographies. 
        2. Engaging current alumni to encourage participation in the LMT Masters Class. 

The committee will meet monthly from December through April, our key recruitment period. 

The members of this committee serve two important roles for the organization: 
  1. A diverse group of Alumni serving as a standing focus group to provide feedback and brainstorm ideas. We need Alumni Committee members to share their ideas, their feedback, their energy and excitement as we navigate some big changes this year and in the future.
  2. Be an ambassador of Alumni offerings, Alumni Network and LMT Programs. We hope committee members will be excited about what LMT is doing and will share that excitement and recruit Alumni, including your classmates, to stay engaged.
This committee will meet monthly from November through June. Our goal is that this Committee is made of up a Class Rep from each class year of Leadership Montana. We are still recruiting Alumni Committee members from the Classes of 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2016. 
YES...I want to help. Tell me more.

When we support each other, we succeed together.

Great leaders don’t lead alone. Leadership Montana depends on the support of businesses, foundations, and individuals like you. Providing the tools, programming, education, and support Montana leaders need, especially now.

During these unusual and challenging times, your support now is crucial to Leadership Montana. With your help, we can ensure that Montana’s leaders are supported now and in the future. Please consider making a gift today to Leadership Montana's annual fundraising campaign. Your gift helps to ensure that Leadership Montana will continue to be here for you and our Montana leaders.

DONATE and support Leadership Montana today!
Our two popular LMT virtual series have returned. While we have started to meet together in person, there are still benefits to LMT virtual connections. You can get a little bit of LMT learning each month without a long drive, registration fees or extended time out of the office. We know that good leadership takes a lot of practice, here is a chance to put monthly practice on your calendar. Registration for these virtual events is open now.

LMT Live events are open to the public and LMT Alumni. Share an LMT Live invitation with a friend or colleague you think would benefit from a taste of Leadership Montana. 

Alumni State of the World conversations are open to only Alumni or current class members of Leadership Montana. 

November 10, 2021 at 11:30 am – 1:00 pm – Alumni State of the World Conversation: Leading my team during COVID

December 16, 2021 at 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm – LMT Live: Communication and Conflict with LMT Lead Trainer, Dr. Jerry Evans

January 11, 2022 at 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm – Alumni State of the World Conversation: Montana Values

February 16, 2022 at 12:00 – 1:30pm – LMT Live: Powerful Times and Powerless Times – Are you enabling or disabling your team to action? Facilitated by LMT Vice President, Jen Davis

March 9, 2022 at 10:00 -11:30 am – LMT Live: Leading through Change with LMT Lead Trainer, Dr. Jerry Evans.

April 12, 2022 at 11:30 am – 1:00 pm – Alumni State of the World Conversation: Diversity and Belonging

May 19, 2022 at 11:00 am – 12:30 pm – LMT Live: What is your Leadership Philosophy? Getting clear on your leadership philosophy to increase employee engagement and commitment with LMT Vice President, Jen Davis.

June 7, 2022 at 5:00 – 6:30 pm – Alumni State of the World Conversation: Gracious Space in my life and on my team.
Are you a Leadership Montana Alumni who wants to practice Gracious Space and connect with other LMT alumni? Then you will want to join us on Wednesday, November 10 at 11:30 am - 1:00 pm for a State of the World convesation focused on the topic of Leading my team during COVID. It has been a challenging time to be a leader, give yourself the gift of time to be a part of this conversationThis State of the World Convesation will be facilitated by LMT Gracious Space Director, Hatton Littman, LMT 2017 and Masters 2019,  and Alumni that are trained Gracious Space Facilitators.  
Sign up for this conversation with LMT Alumni

Session 2 | Whitefish, MT:

Cohort 1: Jill Alban, 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. 

Cohort 2: Nicole Smith, Missoula

The Flathead Valley is where my spirit feels most at home. My great grandmother Florence, born in 1907, raised her five children in Kalispell. Back then it was primarily a logging community; she told me about how they would buy groceries on credit at the neighborhood store during the winter because no one could work. She had twins in February; my grandma Ila (then age 7) remembers putting a blanket in a warm cast iron pan, heated on the woodstove to keep the babies warm. Grandma Florence would go on to own a farm in Somers, on the shores of Flathead Lake. My family spent many summer days enjoying the clear blue waters of Flathead and exploring Glacier National Park. What an incredible place to call home.

A lot has changed in the Valley over the years, but the spirit of community, adventure, and innovation thrives. Tenacity and a passion for meaningful work were on full display when, on day one, we visited the Kalispell Kreamery. The family-run dairy farm has not missed a two-a-day milking in the 45 years they’ve operated the business. After sampling their cold brew and chocolate milk, we learned there’s not much better than teat to table. Support your local dairy farmer!

It felt like we never skipped a beat as our cohort continued getting to know each other and learn together. We were introduced to the tenants of Gracious Space and saw those in action as the alumni panel raised issues of housing insecurity, lack of public transportation, and experiences of white privilege. The Nate Chute Foundation educated us on the suicide cluster occurring among young people in the Flathead Valley. As the Executive Director of a primary care clinic, I was sobered by the statistic that approximately 45% of all individuals who die by suicide visit their primary care provider in the two weeks preceding their death. When I shared this with my staff, everyone from the physicians to the front desk staff agreed that we should pursue the QPR training to increase our skills and awareness in identifying individuals at risk of self-harm.

Moments of contemplation and introspection were interspersed with great food, great conversation, and amazing scenery. Although we never saw the elusive Grouse Mountain black bear, we did enjoy some fantastic cocktails and the most extravagant charcuterie board at Spotted Bear Spirits in downtown Whitefish.

The training culminated with tours of local businesses, a highlight of the session. What a gift to be a lifelong learner – to find that your curiosity about new things never fades. I learned about issues with the supply chain of fertilizer chemicals coming from China, which doubled the price for the next growing season for Montana farmers. I saw up close, a semi-truck being manufactured as a state-of-the-art communications command center. Innovation, community, adventure – these things are alive and well in the Flathead Valley, and they are defining characteristics of the friends I’m making through Leadership Montana.

Please join our leadership as we bring our annual report to life through an interactive conversation bringing together alumni and key stakeholders across Montana. Let’s celebrate a year of successes, share gratitude for connection, and let us thank you for your contribution to Leadership Montana. Thursday, December 9th, 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm.

REGISTER for Leadership Montana's Annual Town Hall Meeting



Chris Dahl, LMT Class of 2016, Bozeman
Interviewed by Andrea Stevenson, LMT Class of 2021, Bozeman

If you asked Chris Dahl what he would be doing in 30 years when he left his family ranch in Eastern Montana to attend Stanford University, he probably wouldn’t have said leading a successful SaaS (software as a service) company. But that’s exactly what Chris, and the leadership team at Foundant, is accomplishing each day from their home base in Bozeman, MT. Foundant, recognized as one of Inc.’s fastest growing private companies, began in 2007 with a mission to maximize the impact of the philanthropic community. As a founder, Chris utilized his Masters of Computer Science degree from Montana State University to help build software that allows grant makers, grant seekers, community foundations, and scholarship providers to ‘free up time’ from tedious and redundant work, giving them more time to focus on their missions. He enjoys problem-solving and the challenges that come with software development, process improvement, and building teams.
Chris graduated from Leadership Montana in 2016 and reflected on his time in the program as “transforming”. He credits the study of Gracious Space as one of the most influential tools he uses each and every day in his professional career, helping him and the organization to become continuous learners and applying mutual respect and creativity to some of their most intractable problems. With Foundant’s strong growth, Chris forecasts that one of his biggest challenges will be “to continue to develop relationships and foster teamwork as the company expands”. His learning during Leadership Montana helps him invest in others with trust and vulnerability.
Chris shared that his local LMT classmates stay in touch and highlighted networking as a bonus benefit he wasn’t anticipating when he walked into the first session in Big Sky. As he concluded his Leadership Montana learning experience, he gratefully acknowledged that the curriculum helped him build confidence, improve his listening skills, and gain a deeper understanding of his leadership strengths and weaknesses.
A forever learner, Chris listens to a variety of podcasts on road trips to his family’s ranch and recently challenged himself with tennis. His love for the great Montana outdoors continues with solo pack trips (6-days last summer in the Bob Marshall, where he soaked up the scenery and literally saw no one for days) that help him recharge. Along with being an avid outdoorsman, Chris’s secret superpower in being a great uncle and ‘mentor’ to his niece and nephew, who call often for both personal and professional advice.
As Chris thinks about the future, he is interested in becoming more active with his family’s ranch and more involved with changes in agriculture and food production. He also can see dedicating some of his time to mentoring. He is grateful for the learning provided through Leadership Montana that provides him a strong foundation of skills and knowledge to empower his colleagues and team at Foundant, as well as encourage younger generations.



This month we give gratitude to A&E Design for their continued partnership and generous support. Thank you, Dusty, Chris, Ric, Brad, and the rest of your team for all that you do to help us build a better Montana! We are thankful to you and all of our supporters!

If your company is interested in learning about sponsorship partnerships with Leadership Montana, let us know.

EVENTS - Opportunities to Listen, Learn and Build Connection

November 10, 2021 at 11:30 am – 1:00 pm – Alumni State of the World Conversation: Leading my team during COVID

December 1-2, 2021. Men's and Women's Leadership Forums.  Registration is open to Alumni of Leadership Montana. 

December 9, 2021. Town Hall Meeting, Virtual. Registration is open.

December 16, 2021 at 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm – LMT Live: Communication and Conflict with LMT Lead Trainer, Dr. Jerry Evans

January 11, 2022 at 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm – Alumni State of the World Conversation: Montana Values

February 16, 2022 at 12:00 – 1:30pm – LMT Live: Powerful Times and Powerless Times – Are you enabling or disabling your team to action? Facilitated by LMT Vice President, Jen Davis

March 9, 2022 at 10:00 -11:30 am – LMT Live: Leading through Change with LMT Lead Trainer, Dr. Jerry Evans.

March 14-15, 2022, The Confluence, Red Lodge. Registration is open.

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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.