MARCH 2020
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Leaders adapt. Over the last three weeks, this statement has proven true for all of us around Montana. Faced with a global pandemic, we have no choice but to adapt how we live, work, lead, and care for others in our current reality.

Since our very first class met in Big Sky in 2004, we have consistently held our three-day session every month from September to April. That’s 110 live sessions over 16 years and our 111th session was delivered remotely over half of a day last week. At Leadership Montana during this unprecedented time, adapting looks like providing programming electronically rather than in person. While it isn’t ideal, we are making it work.

We are here for you, all of you. Here’s what we’re doing to support our LMT community and Montana:
  • LMT Live features one-hour interactive leadership lessons or conversations on Montana issues, delivered in real-time through Zoom. This is an important way for us to connect and continue learning. We are currently seeking conversation hosts for April. Sign up in the button below to be a part of this meaningful program. Watch for programming to be announced shortly via email and social media. Archived lessons are available on our website.
  • “Happy Hour” Now more than ever, connection is important to our health and well-being. We have scheduled a Zoom-based “happy hour” for each class to connect, check in, and support one another. See the schedule below, watch your email and social media for Zoom links.
  • Have or Need Do you have something that someone might need? Do you need something that someone might have? Here’s an example: Butte fire department needed hand sanitizer. Headframe Spirits made hand sanitizer. Problem addressed. Use the buttons below to share what you have to offer those in need or what you are needing right now. We will do our best to match them up and connect you.

We are here for you. And when the time is right, we will be here for you in person, too. We will continue to provide opportunities for you to connect, learn, and lead in Montana.

Now is the time that we need to be here for each other. That means we need you to be here for us, too. Like all nonprofit organizations across the world, we are going to take a hit and the significance of that is not known. We are doing everything we can to protect our organization so that when this is over, we are still standing strong and working toward our mission of developing leaders committed to building a better Montana.

If you are looking for ways to help us, paying your membership dues is an important way to show us that you’re here for us, too. If you are unable to pay dues, even a message of support in this time goes a long way.

We are here for you. Always.

My very best,

Chantel McCormick Schieffer
President & CEO
Class of 2010, Masters 2019


“The Masters Class is a deeper dive into who you are as a leader. You are surrounded by other graduates who have had time to take their experiences in LMT and apply them to real world situations. This brings a wealth of experience to the table to help you become a better leader, advocate, employee, employer, and person.”
- Zac Adkins, Class of 2013, Masters 2020
Leadership Montana is now accepting applications for our third cohort of the Masters Class. This is your opportunity to continue your Leadership Montana journey with a next-level program designed just for you...our esteemed alumni.
Our uniquely designed three-day, three-session experience will build on the Leadership Montana journey by digging deeper into evidenced-based leadership theory and easy-to-apply skills that every great leader needs. 
Limited to 20-24 Leadership Montana alumni, participants are selected through a competitive process. 
Session dates:
April 28-30, 2021 Miles City & Billings (in conjunction with graduation of flagship program) 


Barb Cestero - Class of 2015 & Masters 2020, Bozeman

I had no idea. 

When I volunteered to write the March Masters class reflection, I was riding the high of our January Whitefish session. Starting to implement the action steps I identified to bring more courageous collaboration into my work and continuing to apply the new leadership practices I’ve chosen to work on. 

I couldn’t imagine the uncertainty, worry, challenge and unprecedented rapid change we would all find ourselves confronting today as the Covid-19 pandemic spreads across our state, country and the world. 

Today, I write from my newly installed home office, practicing “social distance” and isolation to “flatten the curve” and protect others. Phrases I didn’t know existed a few weeks ago. I am grateful to be able to adapt my work life in this way as not everyone can. 

This is the new lens through which I reflect on our Masters class. At the top of my mind, are all of my classmates, Leadership Montana staff, fellow alumni and our teachers. I am wishing everyone good health and safety as we navigate these uncharted waters.

Two discussions from our Whitefish sessions with Pat Hughes on Courageous Collaboration stand out as almost prescient, offering wisdom that I need today. 

The first revolved around vulnerability (defined as uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure!) and learning in public. Here we are, engaged in a global crash course on learning in public because this pandemic is beyond so many of our own lived experiences. And it feels really vulnerable to be trying to lead at a time like this when I don’t even know the questions, let alone the answers. This is hard, and many are hurting.

This time also feels creative which leads me to the second discussion around adaptive leadership. I am in awe watching Montanans from all corners adapting to this remarkable challenge and innovating. From restaurants shifting on a dime to offer take- out and delivery to the healing dances offered on the Social Distancing Powwow Facebook page and the Montanans stepping up to make surgical masks for our healthcare providers. Our own Leadership Montana quickly produced a series of online webinars to keep us connected and learning. We are adapting and managing rapid change as best we can.

Our Leadership Montana experiences have given us important tools and prepared us to support each other, our communities and our state through this pandemic. We are all in this together, and at least today, I believe we can come through it together as well.  


Heather Sobrepena, Class of 2018 - Helena 
Interviewed by Lisa Koski, Class of 2019 - Glasgow

Heather Sobrepena works for the Montana Department of Commerce and manages the Indian Country Programs, which include nine different grant oversight programs. She is a member of the MniCoujou band of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and a descendent of the Crow Nation as well as a third generation Filipino-American. 

She is a single mom of four children ages 12 to 23, three boys and a girl. Heather and her children live in East Helena, where she chose to raise her children after being raised in the same community. In her "spare" time, she is working on her Master's in Public Administration, while following her son in basketball. 

Heather, like everyone associated with Leadership Montana had life-changing experiences during her class time and emphasizes how tight her class is. One of her fondest memory of the class was when they were in Bozeman, MT and the class was staying at the Sacagawea Hotel. The hotel has an older limo that they took out to a classmate's house. The driver didn't really know how to drive the limo and ended up hitting the side of the garage and then took off across the lawn, almost hitting the outside playhouse. Heather states, "I don't know if you have noticed, but you start living Gracious Space in every moment of your life". 

Leadership Montana has enabled her to understand her own personality traits. Being a very strong introvert, she realized that the stereotypes out there that introverts can't be leaders, is so not true. She didn't recognize her own worth or having a voice at the table. LMT training enabled her to get out of her comfort zone and become vulnerable at learning in public. She has learned to speak out more and that her voice does have a seat at the table. Heather felt she was always waiting on others to lead and being the support person to make them look better, when in reality she needed to use her own voice and step up. 

Heather believes, "there are many opportunities for Gracious Space, for the work that needs to be done within communities, organizations, and the state". The Gracious Space model is critically important in our lives and a great place to come together and have decent conversations with kindness and compassion, in spite of our different views. Understanding each other's views is very critical component of Gracious Space. 
"Montana has an unspoiled goodness about her that you cannot find anywhere else in the world. It's a combination of the people and place that doesn't seem to exist in any other place. What is it they show on the slide in the first session?...Montana is one long main street, with lots of stops (towns) along the way. We are all a part of this one community called Montana." 


As a nonprofit organization, Leadership Montana depends on the generosity of our sponsors and donors to support our programs. Our sincere gratitude this month goes out to Reach Higher Montana for their generous and continued support.

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



April 30 - May 1 - Montana Giving Days
May 11-12 - Dare to Lead Workshop in Butte * pending reschedule
June 17-18 - Dare to Lead Workshop in Sidney 
June 25 - Celebrate Montana Dinner in Billings
June 26- Class of 2020 Graduation - Flagship and Masters
July 28 - 29 - Dare to Lead Workshop in Kalispell 
September 21-23 - The Confluence in Red Lodge
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.

Copyright © 2020 Leadership Montana, All rights reserved.

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