New Big Sky Chamber of Commerce Board Chair Sarah Phelps speaks with Gallatin County Commissioner Don Seifert at the chamber’s annual Black Diamond Awards dinner on June 26.

Chamber throws stoke at next generation of local leaders

It was time for David O’Connor to hand over the reins. He stood at the podium, addressing a packed room at his place—Buck’s T-4—and as he spoke, he applied lessons learned in the hotel and restaurant trenches.

O’Connor is the outgoing board chair of the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce, and during the chamber’s annual meeting and Black Diamond Awards dinner on June 26, he described how good teamwork in the kitchen is built around the understanding that from dishwashers to chefs, everyone is valued for the role they play.

Citing Anthony Bourdain’s classic memoir “Kitchen Confidential,” O’Connor wrapped wisdoms pulled from this book around the tasks at hand for the community of Big Sky.

“We are a community that’s run from the ground up,” said O’Connor, who reminded everyone gathered in the Montana Room “you’re a part of this.”

O’Connor then formally turned over his duties as board chair to Sarah Phelps, director of member services at the Yellowstone Club and now the person filling O’Connor’s shoes for a three-year term.

“I am a diehard believer in the Big Sky dream,” Phelps told the crowd. “You can make a life here.”

Phelps then specifically reached out to twenty- and thirty-somethings, suggesting the community needs to do more to nurture a new generation of leaders ready to take over positions on various district boards and other seats of power steering Big Sky into the future.

“I want them (the next generation) to find their place at the table,” said Phelps, who then challenged older, more established folks in the room. “Find someone to mentor because that is how we grow.”

Pick up the July 5 edition of Lone Peak Lookout for more coverage of the June 26 event.

—DM

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