Steering Committee

Our Steering Committee is comprised of women leaders from across the state. Each one of us has our own reason for being a part of this important work.  We are committed to our mission and our motto: “You can tell who the strong women are. They are the ones building each other up.”

In my life I have seen the need for a gathering of women leaders who could share experiences, lift one another up, inspire courage and confidence, have open, honest and respectful dialogue about contemporary issues, and make an impact on our state. Women Leading Montana was built on these concepts.

Brenda Peterson, Great Falls – Founder

From corner to corner, Montana women are running businesses, heading households, and holding elective office. We’re leading nonprofit organizations as staff, board members, and volunteers. We are leading Montana…and we want to celebrate all that we contribute to our communities.

Chantel Schieffer, Bozeman – Founder

I said yes because I want to learn more things – how to have more meaningful professional relationships, tools to manage work-life balance (or the lack thereof), where to look for professional collaboration, why consistent enrichment gives my life a fuller value. And most important, I want to shine light on my blind spots in a brave space with women whose work I have admired for years.

Jennifer Hensley, Helena

I said yes to Women Leading Montana because now more than ever we need to be supportive, kind and innovative in our relationships. I want to encourage women to have the confidence and energy to hold space and create space for the many roles we bring to the table. Women Leading Montana isn’t just about being a strong woman or strong leader, but about making other women around us strong, inspiring and influential as well. Building this type of community and collaboration is important to me.

KellyAnne Terry, Lewistown

Women all over Montana are developing leadership skills that truly impact businesses, industries and people every day. The drive and grit that these women demonstrate throughout all facets of this great state are what we need to continue to pave the way for generations to come.

Sarah Swanson, Glasgow

I said yes to Women Leading Montana because I recognize the need for women to gather, share experiences, inspire and encourage one another to lead better, and to build genuine relationships.

Gianna Vanata, Bozeman

I said yes to Women Leading Montana because I see an incredible opportunity to fill our cups together while building a network of women focused on courageously learning from each other.

Nancy Schlepp, White Sulphur Springs

I said yes to Women Leading Montana because Montana needs a forum to bring the real women leaders from around the state together to share ideas, sharpen our skills, bridge the east/west divide plaguing our state, and to develop a real plan of action to make a difference.

Molly Schwend, Billings

I believe the best way to contribute to a community is by making things better. Women all across Montana are taking responsibility, creating a positive cycle of action, leading by example and making a difference. I want to be part of this group of impactful women and help create transformative experiences that gives other women the support and momentum to go make their own ruckus.

Michelle Williams, Billings

I didn’t hesitate to say yes when asked to be on the steering committee for Women Leading Montana because I believe in providing opportunities for people, especially women, to explore, change, and grow as leaders. Montana is filled with amazing and strong women who I want to learn from, while sharing some of my own knowledge and experiences.

Heather Palermo, Great Falls

I said yes because I am proud to be a woman leader in Montana and I receive great strength and energy from connecting with other women leaders. My hope is to share that with others to purposely grow inspiration and passion. I believe that together we are, and can continue to, create solutions to problems and help guide each other on our paths.

Kelly Heaton, Red Lodge

I said yes to serving on the WLM committee because I fully believe that taking a specific moment to recognize the many diverse women leading in Montana today is so important. Helping to plan this amazing opportunity for women to connect, collaborate, inspire, and celebrate gives me immense joy.

Leslie Messer, Sidney

What We Do

We provide an annual forum bringing women together from all corners of our state to discuss the issues of the day. This two-day convening has provided content centered around Civility and Gracious Space, Family/Life Balance, Mean Girls to Brave Women, and Behavioral Intelligence. We have had leadership workshops and compelling and engaging keynote speakers such as Sally Hope, life coach and leader of the Wildheart Revolution, as well as retired Brig. Gen. Colleen McGuire.

Why Women Leading Montana?

While we acknowledge that there are some truly wonderful leadership programs, women-centric organizations, and professional development opportunities in our state, we want to convene with women currently leading Montana, willing to acknowledge the differences among us and use those differences to support one another in a real way – beyond pure networking and cocktail party conversations.

Our Guiding Principles

Finding balance between the head and the heart

Kindness exists when fear is resolved

Finding humor and fun is what we do


Collaboration with other like-minded organizations

Effecting results by making an impact

Statewide focus

Continuous learning

Shared experiences

Strategies for finding courage

Support and confidence building

Gracious Space

Honest, open, and respectful dialogue