May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and I desperately wish we talked more about this as a society. I am making an invitation to that conversation, because as leaders we have a responsibility to end the stigma. It is time.
When I was seventeen, my father had a very public mental health crisis that forever changed the trajectory of my life and made me an overnight advocate for anyone who suffers from mental illness. As I started to understand more, I was shocked to learn the high numbers of those - particularly here at home - who silently suffer from this invisible disease.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 163,000 Montanans reported having a mental health condition in 2021. In that same year, over 35% of Montanans reported symptoms of anxiety and depression. For the past thirty years, our state consistently ranks in the top five for the highest rate of suicide deaths in the nation. This is one of the biggest issues facing Montana today, and one that consistently arises in Leadership Montana classrooms as we discuss challenges and opportunities in our communities.
Here is my invitation as we enter this month of Mental Health Awareness.
Listen to your people. Now more than ever, we must make time and space to check in with those in our circle - employees, colleagues, friends, family, community, everyone we know. This also means listening to and checking in on yourself.
Learn about mental illness and the many ways it shows up in overt and covert ways. Take a mental health first aide class so you can recognize the signs and learn ways to help someone in crisis.
Lead in your sphere of influence to be a part of ending the stigma. Normalize open dialogue about mental wellness as much as physical health. If it feels safe, and you have your own mental health challenges, talking about your experiences can build trust and resilience.
There are many other important steps that need to be taken to truly end the stigma, but let us please start with what we, as individuals, can impact. We can do more than we may believe.
Be well and lead well,
Chantel M. Schieffer
President & CEO
Class of 2010, Masters 2019
Help us reach our goal of $5,000 in each of the Giving Day communities! Big thanks go out to our donor matches as well!
Join us for an evening with fellow alumni and friends celebrating honored guests, the graduating 2022 Flagship classes and Masters class, and an opportunity to reconnect with your own classmates and community members.
We will be celebrating the recipients of our annual awards - Alumni Service Award, Alumni Leadership Award, and the Tom Scott Excellence in Leadership Award.
We would also like to acknowledge the Flagship Classes of 2020 and 2021, the Masters Class of 2020 as well as our Tom Scott award winners of 2020, Brenda Peterson, and 2021, Lanny Hubbard.
Help us congratulate and celebrate this year's Tom Scott Excellence in Leadership Award winner, Amy Kellogg!
This year will be different!
We would like to announce the addition of Counting Coup, a western-blues-folk-rock group whose captivating lyrics and melodies truly capture the soul of the song, they will close out the night with original and cover songs that you can't help to connect with.
We are also adding a second day of connection through class breakfast and optional recreational activities.
Schedule of Events Thursday, June 2, 2022
1:00 pm - The Elm - Graduation for Flagship Classes of 2022 and Masters Class of 2022. Open to everyone.
6:00 pm - Celebrate Montana - The Elm
Friday, June 3, 2022
8:00 am - Class Breakfast - Various Restaurants around Bozeman
10:00 am - Choice of optional Recreational Activities
Golf (weather dependent)
River Float (weather dependent)
Guided walking tour of Storey Mill Community Park (weather dependent)
Individual tickets are available as well as table sponsorships!
This special event is one of the highlights of the year as we gather to celebrate our participants, alumni, and the great state we call home. We hope you can join us!
By Hunter Herbaugh Ranger-Review Staff Writer
Thursday, April 14, 2022
Professionals from across the state got to learn from local leaders when this year’s Leadership Montana class came to town last week. Leadership Montana is a program that aims to develop individual’s leadership skills as they travel to communities across the state, learning from local leaders and officials about the problems they face and how they have addressed them.
Program participants travel to seven communities over a period of several months. This is the first time the program has been in Glendive during its 20-year history.
According to Leadership Montana president and CEO Chantel Schieffer, the locations are often influenced by program alumni.
Glendive Public Schools Superintendent Stephen Schreibeis joined the program last year, and was the first individual from Glendive to participate in the program. Schieffer said Schreibeis recommended Glendive as a stop for the program.
“As it turns out, most of the people in the program this year have been to Eastern Montana, and that’s no surprise. We’re starting to see more people travelling east, we’re starting to see that shift,” she said.
This year is also unique, she noted, in that the class had to be split into two groups as there were more participants than usual.
“It’s unique for us to have two cohorts but there are just so many people in this year’s class. We noticed that the demand became particularly high during the COVID years, people just became more interested in the program,” Schieffer said.
The first group came to town on Monday, April 4 and the next on Friday, April 8. Each group spent a day in the community hearing from local leaders and exploring local businesses. They then went on to Sidney.
Based on some of the response from the event, the time spent in Glendive appears to have gone well, as program participants say they learned quite a lot and were happy to get some insight into the current goings-on of Eastern Montana.
Missoula County Auditor David Wall was among the group that visited the area on Friday. He said that from his perspective, the visit was very educational and enjoyable as he discovered there’s more to the community than most people realize at first glance.
“I mainly learned that a lot of people see Glendive as a stop-over town, a place to gas up or sleep for the night before moving on, but there is so much more that it has to offer,” he said.
Laura Clark, president of Opportunity Bank of Montana, said she had much the same experience. Having travelled from Helena to be part of the Monday group, discovering the many assets Glendive has was something she enjoyed as well.
“I was one of four participants of Leadership Montana who carpooled from Helena to Glendive on Sunday to be ready to engage in the community Monday morning. It is a long drive, but so worth it. Several participants toured the impressive wastewater treatment plant Monday morning. The tour guide was the design engineer from Great West Engineering and a participant in our class. She was very proud of the project as I’m sure the community of Glendive is as well. I found the tour and the facility quite interesting,” Clark said.
Particularly though, both Wall and Clark pointed to the local leaders panels as a high point of their respective visits. The Monday group heard from a panel consisting of Schreibeis, Chamber of Commerce Director Terra Burman, Ranger-Review Publisher Chad Knudson, Dawson County Commissioner Dennis Zander and Montana Chamber of Commerce Board Chairman Paul Hopfauf. The Friday group met with a panel consisting of Dawson Community College Interim President Kathleen O’Leary, Glendive Schools Facilities Director Rhett Coon, Glendive Medical Center Marketing and Foundation Director Jaime Shanks and Beau Gibbs, engineer for WBI Energy.
During each session, attendees heard about not only the assets Glendive has, but also the challenges the community faces and how those problems have been addressed. As each member of both panels are also members of other various boards and organizations in the community, they were able to provide a thorough picture of many aspects of the community.
“The Glendive community panel, which is something we have experienced in each community we have visited, was one of the best we have had, in my opinion,” Clark said. “The panels discuss issues facing the community and included both successes and challenges. The Glendive panel was engaging and it was apparent each loved the community they lived in, and were open to questions and perspectives from the audience... They seemed to really work together with the same goal of sustaining and improving Glendive and Dawson County.”
Wall added that his time in Glendive provided a good example of how visiting a new community can really help develop and understanding of issues that affect the entire state. He added that he feels Leadership Montana should make a point of visiting new communities more often in the future, including reservation communities.
On a personal note, Wall said the trip to other communities taught him to be more curious, especially when discussing topics where he and another person don’t agree. He learned to inquire about issues of disagreement and explore those differences in opinion to come to a better understanding.
“Every community has their differences, Glendive is very different from Missoula. We need to learn more about other parts of the state and what they have to offer. Towns like Glendive and Eastern Montana have goods and services we need here in Missoula and I don’t think a lot of people realize that,” Wall said.
(L to R) Beau Gibbs, Kathleen O’Leary, Jaime Shanks and Rhett Coon were the panelist during a discussion with the Leadership Montana class that came to town on Friday, April 8. All four are members of several boards and organizations and spoke about local challenges to growth, as well as successes. Hunter Herbaugh photo
Lisa Koski, Glasgow, Class of 2019
Interviewed by Craig Pozega, Helena, Class of 2021
Lisa Koski has served as executive director of the Chamber of Commerce in Glasgow since 2009, where she originally started as their bookkeeper.
She is an accounting/finance graduate from the University of Montana and worked in an accounting business for five years before ultimately deciding that she did not just want to just crunch numbers.
In addition to being the Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce, Lisa has a small tax and accounting business and also co-owns Scottie Express Wash with her husband Paul. Lisa has one son, Connor, who is a very active sixteen-year-old, and is a stepmom to four ranging in age from twenty-one to thirty-six years old. Lisa enjoys chasing football, hockey and golf. Lisa and her family live in Glasgow, one block from the home where she was raised, and her mom still lives “around the corner.”
The biggest event sponsored by the Chamber is the Montana Governor’s Cup Walleye Tournament, in its 35th anniversary year. The tournament brings over 400 fishermen and their families to Northeast Montana to fish the beautiful Fort Peck Reservoir. The event has the single largest economic impact to Glasgow and Fort Peck, which is estimated to bring in $500,000 to the these communities.
Lisa is a 2019 graduate of Leadership Montana’s Flagship program. Her favorite part of the program was an exercise that helped to show the diversity among the class. This exercise has been very impactful on how she relates to others. Lisa has formed lifelong friendships with classmates and regularly has conversations with them on both personal and business levels. She still enjoys pulling out the cards from her treasure box when she needs a be uplifted.
Leadership Montana has impacted Lisa by providing her the skills necessary to “invite the stranger.” Lisa’s willingness and ability to include others diverse perspective have ultimately led to better outcomes, simply by listening and coming to better solutions. The networking provided by being an alumna of Leadership Montana has been invaluable to Lisa with her job at the Chamber. Personally, Lisa has friendships she never would have had made if she had not been a part of Leadership Montana.
Lisa loves the wide-open spaces around her home in Glasgow, which have been especially appreciated during this time of COVID. She believes people in Montana are genuine and welcoming and loves living and raising her family here. She truly believes that there is not a better place to call home.
Lisa feels the role of Leadership Montana in our state is bringing diverse people together for civil conversations that create successful and meaningful outcomes.
MASTERS CLASS REFLECTION
Carson Sweeney, Lewistown, Class of 2015 and Masters 2022
Leadership Montana is making the difference across Montana that they set out to accomplish years ago. On multiple occasions, I have been in the middle of an intriguing conversation with someone I’ve only just met, and I just have to ask, “Have you participated in Leadership Montana?” Each time their proud response has been “Yes, Class of 20XX, You?” What a neat connection we have with so many alumni throughout our diverse state. I am honored to be associated with each of you, humbled in fact.
The gift of participating in the Leadership Montana experience is in fact that, a gift. I certainly owe a debt to those who pushed me to expand myself throughout our many LM sessions. I am grateful to be a student in the 2021 Masters Class. What an excellent way to build upon the foundation of gracious space. I would encourage each of you to give yourself the gift of participating in the Masters program. Your tank will be spilling over after surrounding yourself once again with outstanding Montana leaders.
Our Masters Class gets to meet in Helena on April 27-29. I am longing to see each of our classmates and hear how they have been. Our last session was held virtually. We were all bummed to miss out on an excellent opportunity to visit the eastern portion of our beautiful state. Jen and the team are doing a fabulous job of leading each of us to the higher bar we are all striving for. I can only hope to keep pace with them as they plow the path ahead to a better Montana.
From beautiful Central Montana, I wish all of you the best.
INDIGENOUS IMMERSION INITIATIVE REFLECTION
Chuck Winn, Bozeman, Class of 2015, Masters 2019, and III 2022
"No blame, no shame, and no guilt" were among the first words our host Marci greeted us with at the opening session of our class. I had major portions of all three as it related to Native Americans and felt like an imposter attending Leadership Montana's first Indigenous Immersion Initiative. For this experience to be meaningful, she said, we had to shed those feelings and get real and be real with each other. Okay, here it goes; time to fess up.
Blame. One of the questions put up on the screen read something like this; "why can't Native Americans just pick themselves up by the bootstraps and fix what's wrong in their lives?" I had to admit, on occasion, I've wondered the same thing. We learned about generational trauma and how when culture, traditions, and families are stomped out, so often too goes pride and hope. There is no magical quick fix for trauma like this and what is inflicted over generations takes acknowledgment, continued effort and time to remedy. We learned there are great things happening in our Native American communities and there are things we can all do to make tomorrow better than yesterday and begin to heal.
Shame. Montana history fascinates me and I am especially captivated by the rich history of Butte. I've studied the Copper Kings and can almost recite F. Augustus Heinzie's 1903 speech on the steps of the Butte Courthouse. But, at the same time, before this experience, I couldn’t tell you how many reservations are in Montana or how many Tribes are recognized in our state. And I call myself a Montanan?
Guilt. Growing up in Billings, I was around racism more than I'd like to admit. Oftentimes, it was laying just below the surface bubbling up through snide comments about the reservation or the number of 22-dash plates around town. Sometimes I heard hateful name-calling and didn't confront those spewing those hurtful words. I look back on that decades later and feel horrible. I had no Native American friends but didn't seek out any either. I was comfortable in my little bubble and left that other world outside.
I write this only to put words to my thoughts. These are my reflections and I own them. What I have come to understand is that we can attack the idea of racism without attacking the person with those views. Attacking people creates divides and builds walls while discussing ideas openly and courageously builds relationships which can bring real change and transformation (Gracious Space, anyone?). We can never heal that which we refuse to acknowledge. Marci showed me that being able to talk openly about the history and experience of Montana's Native peoples is the first step in truly understanding their experience, our collective role in that experience, and through that, building a bridge where compassion, understanding, respect, and appreciation for the rich culture, generational experiences and immense pride of Montana's Native peoples can change our state and the world.
I am grateful to be on this odyssey with a group of incredible tour guides. Thank you Marci, Samuel, Jim, Cinda, and Misty for your patience, honesty, and courage in walking alongside this old white guy. I know our journey has just begun but I know the destination will be worth every step.
Applications for the Masters Class of 2022 - 2023 open on January 1, 2022.
“The best leaders turned out to be the best learners…Learning is the master skill. When you fully engage in learning – when you throw yourself whole-heartedly into experimenting, reflecting, reading, or being coached – you will experience the thrill of improvement and the taste of success.” J. Kouzes and B. Posner
Upon graduation from Leadership Montana, alumni are invited to continue their leadership journey through the Masters Class. Established in 2017, the Masters Class is a shorter and smaller class experience allowing participants to dive deeper into their own leadership journey. The Masters Class was born out of requests from Alumni for an additional in-depth experience to continue their leadership journey.
The Masters Class experience will build on the Leadership Montana experience by digging deeper into leadership development, Gracious Space, and community issues.
The Masters Class may be right for you if you're looking for ways to:
build collaboration, teamwork, and trust
strengthen the ability of others to excel
experiment with innovative ideas and learn from accompanying mistakes
inspire others to share a common vision
clarify and communicate your fundamental values and beliefs
increase your personal capacity for courageous collaboration
learn an approach for embracing vulnerability and reality
The Masters Class is a 4 session experience. The class is limited to 24 participants.
Tuition is $3,000, limited scholarships are available.
Session 1: November 2 - 4, 2022 Paradise Valley
Session 2: February 8 - 10, 2023 Helena
Session 3: May 10 - 12, 2023 Havre
Graduation and Celebrate Montana Dinner: June 1 - 2, 2023
Be a Community Connector and join a special group of alumni who provide steady monthly support to Leadership Montana. Your recurring gifts will be 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 charitable giving is in place for the entire year. If your situation changes for any reason, you can always update or cancel your gift.
Monthly giving is the most cost-efficient way to deliver your support. Spreading your support throughout the year is a convenient way to include your donations into your personal budget. Sign up today to set up your monthly or recurring gift today!
Our gratitude this month goes to The University of Montana. We thank all our alumni and friends at UM who work hard to help build a better Montana! We are thankful to you and all of our supporters! Many thanks for your generous support.
If your company is interested in learning about sponsorship partnerships with Leadership Montana, let us know.
EVENTS - Opportunities to Listen, Learn and Build Connection
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.