By Debi Westlake
Leadership Montana’s mission statement reads “building a better Montana through knowledge, collaboration, and civility”. They claim to be a
“collaboration of leaders from business, labor, healthcare, education, nonprofit, and government coming together to form a strong partnership for the betterment of our state”. But who’s betterment are they truly working for?
The Montana State Fund is the state’s largest worker’s compensation insurance agency. The president of this fund, Laurence Hubbard, has
consistently been the highest paid public employee for several years and is currently raking in $217.36/hr [For perspective, the governor makes
$56.92/hr. The top 3 highest paid state employees all work for MT ST Fund, collectively pulling down $588.81 per hour of taxpayer dollars] They are also a palladium level donor to Leadership Montana along with AMB West Philanthropies (aka Arthur M Blank Foundation), the Dennis & Phyillis Washington Foundation, and First Interstate Bank. Other high level donors include BNSF, Northwestern Energy, Big Sky Resort, Blue Cross Blue Sheild, Weyerhauser and Logan Health.
Payments from the state to this non-profit organization total $350,788.97 since FY2013 with $216,050 of that amount coming directly from the Montana State Fund and another $70,236 from DPHHS (the single highest payment being $50,236 from them). However, Leadership Montana’s
website shows no annual reports before 2019 AND Laurence Hubbard of the MT ST Fund is listed as a private donor in all reports available.
So what do they offer? Their “unique curriculum weaves work by modern thought leaders and experts like Simon Sinek, Brené Brown, Daniel
Goldman, Steven Covey, Patricia Hughes, and others with Carl Jung’s Theories of Psychological Types to create a deep and meaningful learning experience.” Simon Sinek, whose company is named The Optimism Company, published “The Golden Circle Theory” that argues that the most successful companies think beyond the rational, practical benefits of the products & service they offer. Brené Brown, most know for a 2010 TED talk and book “The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings on Authenticity, Connection & Courage”. Steven Covey’s theory tells us that all our actions are the result of past conditioning and we must change our habit, as well as who we are, in order to succeed with making large life changes.
Free to the public, on Leadership Montana’s website, is a list of Zoom meetings with titles such as Ethics & Social Responsibility, Gracious Space, Be Consistent, Be Passionate, Show Respect, Listen Deeply, Empower Others and Smile (ironically the Smile class is audio only, so you never see any smiles) all follow the principles set forth by these authors. There is a Budget & Stimulus podcast lead by Llew Jones but it’s unclear how this fits into the rest of the curriculum which appears to be nothing more than Critical Race Theory 101 and the whole thing seems specifically designed to leave out the “little guy” especially with so many businesses struggling to simply make ends meet in this flailing economy.