September  2021
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Earlier this month, I attended the opening of the Helena Symphony season which featured Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (Ode to Joy), one of my top five favorite musical creations of all time. Even as the pandemic rages all around, I had to be in that concert hall and experience the magic of this complex work of art. 

Parts of the piece are rough, showing very clear conflict. Sections are messy, confusing even. And the best part, the one we all know, is triumphant.  After I hear that final note, I feel unstoppable. 

This piece is played often for motivation in my home where I can place the record needle on the last grove and get to the gold. Sitting in my seat, I found myself wanting to skip to the “best stuff” - the part where I want to stand up and cheer. But I couldn’t, this experience was outside of my control. Watching this performance unfold before me, I had to be patient and navigate through the messy middle.

As it does when I least expect it, inspiration struck. How often do we want to skip through the messy middle to get to the gold? I know I do pretty much every day. I want to move right past the conflict and confusion. I’ll pass on the pain, please. 

But that’s not possible. To fully experience the joy, we have to live through the hard stuff. We have to “embrace the suck” as we learn from Brené Brown. I believe that our ability to sit through the messy middle is what makes the joy even more joyous. 

Skipping through the rough stuff is not what leaders do. Instead, leaders find ways to appreciate the challenge, knowing in the end the triumph will be even greater.

Be well and lead well,

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


Cohort 1: Becky Edwards, 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.

Cohort 2: Jody Verity, 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.


Become trained and certified to facilitate this collaborative leadership model known as Gracious Space. We are bringing Gracious Space author and creator Patricia Hughes to Billings on October 25-26 to provide that opportunity for our alumni and others who have been trained in Gracious Space.

(Not a LMT graduate - please contact to determine eligibility.) 

If you are interested in deepening your practice of Gracious Space and using those tools to teach this practice to others, we invite you to consider training to be a certified facilitator.

Class will begin at 9:00 am each day and our training location will be in downtown Billings. 

For more information, kindly contact Hatton Littman at 406-577-2727 or 

REGISTER for Gracious Space training

LMT Live: Suicide Prevention Training 

Leaders don't shy away from talking about hard things. Here is a very hard thing. Year after year, Montana's rate of suicide mortality is one of the highest in the nation.

We are partnering with the Nate Chute Foundation to provide this virtual, no-cost suicide prevention training to anyone who would like to learn tools to recognize signs that someone may be struggling and action steps to help. Free and open to the public.

Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) with the Nate Chute Foundation

This training teaches 3 simple steps that anyone can learn to help save a life from suicide. Just as people trained in CPR help save thousands of lives each year, people trained in QPR learn how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade, and refer someone to help. QPR can be learned in as little as one hour, and courses can be tailored for the needs of specific audiences.
REGISTER for LMT Live: Suicide Prevention Training


With your generous recurring donations, you will become a Community Connector and receive an awesome new Leadership Montana sticker.
Sign up today!


Leadership Montana exists because of you! Your ongoing support is crucial to the future of our organization. We are asking you to consider making a monthly gift to Leadership Montana which provides a dependable source of support that Leadership Montana can count on throughout the year.
With automatic deductions from your credit card, debit card, or checking account, you can make one monthly gift today without further action and know your donation is in place for the entire year. If your situation changes for any reason, you can always update or cancel your gift.

Sign up today to set up your monthly or recurring gift

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
“I want my entire team to experience Leadership Montana. Can we do that?” 
Yes, you can! 

In 2020, nearly 1,000 Montanans participated in a Leadership Montana training through their company or community. With three main workshops to offer, we can help you build a culture of leadership in your organization. 
CLICK here to learn more about workshops


Our gratitude this month goes out to First Interstate BancSystem for their generous, long-standing partnership with Leadership Montana. Thank you to all of our alumni and friends who work in branches across the state and the corporate office in Billings. Your generosity every single year of our existence has made a significant and lasting impact on Montana. 

If you are interested in learning about sponsorship partnerships with Leadership Montana, let us know.

EVENTS - Opportunities to Listen, Learn and Build Connection

October 20, 2021  LMT Live: Suicide Prevention Training. Virtual. Registration is open.

October 25-26, 2021 Gracious Space Facilitator Training. Billings. Registration is open. 

October 28-29, 2021 Courageous Collaborations in Gracious Space, Billings, Registration is open. Check on course pre-requisites. 

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.

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

Copyright © 2021 Leadership Montana, All rights reserved.

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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.