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Southwest Montana young professionals honored

Joe Willauer, executive director of the Butte Local Development Corp. and Headwaters RC&D, chats with Pam Haxby-Cote, the former executive director of BLDC and current commerce chief for the state of Montana at the 20 Under 40 awards luncheon on Monday at the Clarion Inn Copper King Hotel & Convention Center in Butte. 

Twenty movers and shakers from communities throughout southwest Montana were honored Monday to commemorate their inclusion in this year’s Montana Standard 20 Under 40 publication, an annual listing of people under 40 who have made strides in business, civics and other spheres.

Individuals included in the publication, now in its second year, are nominated by members of their communities. This year The Standard received more than 50 nominations.

On Monday, more than 200 people gathered in the large ballroom at the Clarion Inn Copper King Hotel & Convention Center to acknowledge this year’s winners during a luncheon, co-hosted by the Butte Young Professionals club, the Butte Chamber of Commerce and The Standard.

Standard Advertising Director Jenean Kujawa gave opening remarks, while Pam Haxby-Cote — former executive director of the Butte Local Development Corp. and current commerce chief for the state of Montana — gave the keynote address.

Haxby-Cote called the young leaders in the room “the blueprint for southwest Montana’s future.”

“The 20 Under 40 awards are for individuals considered to be (the) most influential young leaders,” said Haxby-Cote. “So you’re kind of a big deal.”

Haxby-Cote went on to discuss the notion of influence, describing influence as a state steeped in ethics and noting that the ability to influence others comes with responsibility.

She described influence as the ability to affect a person’s character, development or behavior — but what it isn’t, she said, is manipulation or coercion.

Influence, she continued, is based on trust, the ability to make commitments and also on the capacity to recognize others.

“No one is successful on their own. Someone always contributes,” she said.

She concluded by expressing gratitude toward honorees.

“I hope you are as proud of yourselves as I am of you. You are the future and we’re in good hands. You’ve chosen to lead. You’re the person others choose to follow. You provide a vision for the future. You provide inspiration. You make others feel important and appreciated. You live your values. You behave ethically. You seek continual improvement. You provide opportunities to grow both personally and professionally. You care and you act with compassion. You are being true to yourselves. You are using your influence to help people.”

Standard editor David McCumber handed out the awards, telling audience members that the annual publication has been “an excellent way for us at The Montana Standard to build new relationships and strengthen some existing ones with the young people who are both the present and the future of Butte, Anaconda and all of southwest Montana.”

Winners of the 20 Under 40 awards ran the gamut from small business owners and non-profit organizers to young professionals and government leaders.

Christine Martin, an artist and also the curator and building director at the Clark Chateau, was one of this year’s winners.

“I had heard about the awards the year before and really admired a lot of those names on the list,” said Martin, adding that she was honored to be nominated this year.

Jackie Freeman, artistic director at Butte’s Orphan Girl Children's Theatre, said winning the award made her feel as though the Orphan Girl was being recognized in addition to her own achievements.

“It’s really exciting that the community is recognizing that we’re making an impact,” she said.

Jennifer Plute, real-estate agent and entrepreneur, was also honored Monday, and she said that recognizing the achievements of young people is important because economic development depends on future generations. She noted that many of this year’s winners have chosen to grow roots in the Mining City, have purchased homes and started families.

“That’s what’s going to keep revitalizing Butte,” she said.

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Business Reporter

Business Reporter for The Montana Standard.

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