Business Climate, Entrepreneurship, News|

Women's History MonthMarch is Women’s History Month – a time each year to celebrate women accomplishments of the past and present and to look forward to potential for the future. Since Montana is home to an entrepreneurial, innovative spirit, it comes as no surprise that women entrepreneurs have been making serious contributions to Montana since before we became a state.  

From negotiating fur trades to ranching and farming, from running schoolhouses to running…less respectable houses, women in Montana have always been natural born leaders. (We’ll share these stories and more later this month!) Speaking of leaders, we would be remiss not to mention the first woman to hold federal office in the United States was from Montana: Jeanette Rankin, who said, “Men and women are like right and left hands; it doesn’t make sense not to use both.”

From a business perspective, numerous studies tout the significant impact of women-owned businesses and gender diversity in the workplace. Here are just two stats:

  • Of nearly 22,000 companies from 91 countries surveyed, organizations with women in at least 30 percent of leadership positions improved profits by 6 percentage points over competitors with fewer or no women in leadership. (Peterson Institute for International Economics)
  • Between 2014 and 2019, the growth rate of the number of women-owned companies was 3.9% annually. This is significantly more than the growth rate of all businesses during the same time frame, which was only increased 1.7% each year. (American Express)

At the Montana Chamber of Commerce, we’re taking time this month to share some success stories from a few of our innovative and exceptional women-owned or women-led businesses, personal thoughts from our staff and board, and a few gems we dug up in the Chamber archives in recognition of past, present, and future women leaders who made – or are making – history. We hope you follow us on social media and check out our rolling blog for all the stories.


March is National Women’s History Month and at the Montana Chamber, we will be celebrating the strong women in leadership roles across our membership base. We kick off the month by celebrating the women leaders here at the Montana Chamber, introducing them to you and encouraging you to reach out to any of us with issues, questions, or thoughts. 
Dee Durand is the Montana Chamber’s most loyal and longest serving member of the team, having been with the Montana Chamber for over 35 years! As our Senior Office Manager, Dee is the “glue” to the outfit and handles a myriad of daily tasks to keep the organization running smoothly and efficiently. Her historical knowledge of the Montana Chamber is appreciated on a daily basis, providing insight into the history of various members, Directors, and events. 
Dee seems to know everyone at Montana Chamber events. Everyone seems to know Dee. A Butte America native, Dee remembers when the Chamber appointed the first woman to the Board in the mid 1980’s—today, 11 members of the Montana Chamber Board are women.

As a staff, we have come to affectionately refer to Dee as “Diamond Dee”, a fitting name for the polished and highly valuable member of our team. 


‘I love my closet, and I always buy things that I love 100 percent.  I’m very organized, and I like everything sorted by colors, even the shoes.  It’s important to know exactly where everything is when you walk into the closet.’ ~ Melania Trump.

Much like closets, events without proper organization and attention to details, is just chaos.  For the past eight years, my main role with the Montana Chamber is managing events.  From the content to the atmosphere, you should walk away from a Chamber event excited about the knowledge gained from seminars; connections made through networking; and feeling valued as a Chamber member.  To me, it’s not just an event…it’s an experience!

As we reflect on Women’s History Month, think of the extraordinary trailblazers…the courage, the bravery demonstrated.  And even if your name doesn’t go down in history alongside them, live a fierce life, empowering and encouraging others so they are inspired to go to war beside you, not against you. 

Meet TIANA YATES, our Youth Entrepreneurs Coordinator, who is working to connect educators and the business community to train the next generation of employees, employers, and entrepreneurs.

PAYTON DOBBS and MICHELLE SKINNER sat down to discuss what they like best about working for the Montana Chamber, and invite you to play a guessing game to learn more about them. 

By Cassie Monaco
CEO/Founder, Sokn Engineering

As a young woman seeking a leadership role, I would ask yourself, why do you want to lead? Sometimes, people equate being a leader to greatness, success, recognition, and power, and if this is how you see being a leader, your vision of leadership is clouded.

A person taking on a leadership role often does not even realize what they are doing is leading because they are completely authentic in their ambition and mission to build on something, make an impact, inspire and make a difference…READ MORE.

Alpine Physical Therapy owner, Sam Schmidt, owner, Sam Schmidt, said, “I hope the members find this inspiring and reflect on all the work that was done when we came together. Happy International Women’s Month!” Click to read more about the importance of innovation and the the ability to pivot to succeed. Thanks for thinking creatively to continue to offer the best for your community! Click HERE to read the full story! 

It’s Throw Back Thursday to some pioneering women in Montana Chamber of Commerce History! In 1985, the first women – Maxine Johnson: Bureau of Business & Economic Research, and Susan Judge: Mountain Sky Properties – were elected to our Board. It’s only grown from there – we now boast 11 women business leaders on our board (44%!). We couldn’t have done it without the leadership of Johnson and Judge.

We have some incredible business leaders in Montana. Here are a few interviews we’ve had. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Close Search Window