Being with Forward Montana Foundation for a little more than two and a half years, I have come to love our organization for not only the incredible work of our dedicated team, but also the close bonds I’ve forged with my colleagues. While I’ll miss my work and the FMF family, I look forward to staying involved and continuing those tight-knit relationships. I’ve learned so much about how to make real change across our great state, in addition to learning about myself. Forward Montana Foundation has provided me with skills I’ll use the rest of my life. I’ve gained greater confidence and independence, as well as the ability to learn new tasks and create new processes on my own, while still feeling comfortable leaning on our team for support.
The commitment the FMF team displays each and every day to making Montana a better environment for young people will have a forever impact on my worldview and future endeavors. As I move on to a Master’s in Economics at the University of Montana, I feel prepared for new challenges and opportunities for further growth and success, and I’m dedicated to making change for the better.
This is a huge transitional time for our organization, and I’m looking forward to seeing where this next chapter leads.
Even though most of my work as Operations Coordinator is behind the scenes, I’ve still managed to engage young people — even my own family — in discovering their own civic agency. One of my favorite memories is when I convinced my then 23 year old brother into voting for the very first time. While he first lacked faith in the political process and was distrustful of politicians, I convinced him to go to a candidate meet-and-greet. He was initially hesitant and said he would not be staying long. But to my surprise, he stayed over two hours, thoughtfully listening, asking questions, and being fully engaged in the conversation. I’m proud to say he cast his first ballot a couple months later.
This is just one of the many examples of Forward Montana Foundation working with young Montanans to move us closer to a state and an electorate that align with our values and reflect our generation’s experiences. I’ll never forget the countless encouraging stories of young people pushing Montana forward — towards a future in which we all can thrive and take pride in this beautiful and ever-transforming state.
Catherine Shepard is Forward Montana Foundation’s outgoing Operations Coordinator. We are so grateful to Catherine for keeping our finances in order, doing our political filings, and for being our daily style inspo with her various items of lime green activewear.