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THE SIDNEY HERALD. SUNDAYJUNE 2. 20|9 Bl YOUR NEWS Melani Walton, center, received the Global ATHENA Leadership Award with her parents by her side, Chuck and Marleen Lowman of Sidney. Melani Walton, Sidney alum, receives 2019 Global Athena Leadership Award Melani Walton of-the Rob and Melani Walton Foundation was presented the Global ATHENA Leadership Award at the ATH- ENA Valley of the Sun (AVOS) Ignite Change Conference on Thursday, February 28, in Scott- sdale, Arizona. Melani is the daughter of Charles and Marleen Lowman of Sidney. The ATHENA Global Leader— ship Award is presented by the ATHENA International Board to an individual who has achieved the highest level of profession- al excellence, assisted wOmen in reaching their potential and whose body of work has an inter- national impact. As a philanthropist, Walton is committed to efforts on a local, national and global scale. With her studies in art history and background as a K-12 educa- tor, real estate specialist, multi- sport clinician, and Collegiate All-American in basketball and track and ield, she brin sadism . . . a. . , f g The experience of living close to the verse skill set to the philanthrop- ic arena. Walton is passionate about supporting research and innovation in the areas of educa- tion, arts and humanities, brain health, consciousness studies, well-being, conservation and sustainability. “To be recognized for the work Rob and I are doing on a global stage was really an honor,” Wal- ton said. “And to be a role model for the next generation of leaders is what Athena is all about ...men~ toring etc. so to be considered in the group of past recipients such as Ruth'Bader Ginsburg, Condoleezza Rice, Billie Jean King and others was again,‘ a surprise and an honor... Each and every person has the poten- tial to affect another’s life each and every day in so many ways. We all carry the gift of oppor- tunity along with the burden of responsibility to choose to be in the game of life. As sports taught me, TEAM stands for together ev- eryone achieves more. And as my parents quoted ....from the words of [Theodore] Roosevelt, ‘Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.’” What follows is a Q&A con- ducted by Judith Prince from the . board of directors of ATHENA ' International. Did mentors influence your life? What are some of the core messages . you received from your mentors? My parents, Charles and Marleen, are the epitome of integrity and doing what is right day in and day out. They love each other and their children, are contributors to their church and community, and have always expected us to do our best, where we were, with what we had. My mom and dad have been my biggest fans and greatest mentors throughout life. Every single day they cared, by never missing a basketball game or track meet, horse show, piano, flute or dance recital. The core values they instilled have shaped how live my life. My grandparents also had the best advice. My grandfather always said, ’lf you do what you love, you will love what you do.’ My grandmother would say, ’It doesn't matter what you do in life, you are always in the service business. It doesn't matter what yourjob title is, if you’re not in service to others, you are in the wrong business.’ The message is that we are each other’s keepers. When we are no longer grateful to those we serve and those who serve us, then we have lost our humanity. What are two or three events that helped shape your life? Being raised on a ranch in Montana, in Big Sky Country, our family had a very strong connection to the land. I grew up learning about the cycles of life, the rhythms of each season and how to honor nature. natural world shaped my passion for conservation, sustainability, health and well-being. My experience as an athlete was life-changing, too. was a collegiate All-American in basketball, track and field and academics, and played on a national championship basketball team in college. Our team had a chant "T —E-A-M. Together Everyone Achieves More." The lessons i learned from sports — about the value of teamwork, self-sacrifice and perseverance — are invaluable. Sports created opportunity for me to earn scholarships and later start my own business ~ as a sports clinician and consultant — that helped others achieve their goals. My marriage to Rob has been a defining event. I have been blessed to find someone who shares the same values and who supports my life journey. Rob is my indispensable partner and soul mate. The Rob and Melani Walton Foundation wouldn’t exist without his kindness and generous heart. He gives me the greatest gift every day by giving me the freedom to be myself. What woman inspires you and why? ' I’m inspired by so many strong women, like the past recipients of ATHENA’s Global Leadership Award. They are trailblazers and role models. I am honored to be recognized in their company. On a personal level, lshare the same birthday as Amelia Earhart and have always admired her adventuresome soul. That same sense of adventure inspires our foundation’s approach to conservation work. My husband Rob and I visited 22 countries in 20 months to identify and find ways to protect biodiversity hot spots — places with a high number of endemic creatures and natural resources at high risk. . . Another navigator and explorer admire is Sakakawea, who guided Lewis and Clark across the West. Lewis and Clark became national heroes for reaching the Pacific, but the Corps of Discovery would have failed without Sakakawea leading the way. She was in an incredibly difficult position carrying her infant son with her on a long and risky overland journey — but she made history. She walked her path and lived her destiny. I had the incredible opportunity several years ago to work with the Native American community and the US. government to help mint the Sakakawea dollar coin. i am most indebted to the women who have had a very direct impact on my life, like my mother and grandmother, who taught me the value of hard work, community service v and caring for others. My mother was a teacher for 40 years. She would have breakfast on the table for us in the morning, go to work all day and then have dinner ready for us every night. still have no idea how she was able to juggle everything. My grandmother rana one—room schoOihbus’e in V the Killdeer Mountains and helped my grandfather, who was county commissioner, run a large ranching and farming operation, as well as a construction business. She would also cook breakfast in the morning and dinner at night for the family and farm workers, go to school and teach students of all ages during the day. With all she was doing, she somehow still found time to tend her garden and have a rose—lined walkway to her home. What will be the biggest challenge for the next generation of women leaders? In some ways, the challenges for the next generation of women leaders are going to be the same as those women face today. For example, finding a healthy work—life balance is everything. But I also think it's important that women reframe questions about what they can achieve and see things through the prism of opportunity, as opposed to challenges. There are many great women who paved the way for all'of us to have greater opportunity,‘like those who won the right the vote and advocated for Title IX. Without Title IX, I would not have had the opportunity to play basketball or run track and field in college or compete in the same athletic competitions as men. It opened a lot of doors. Women are no longer limited in what they can do or achieve in sports because of gender. ' The generation in which I grew up is standing on the shoulders of the generations before us. Finding new opportunities to succeed and being inspired by the women who broke barriers and pushed through the glass ceiling in the past is how we create our SeeAWAllD, Pagez From portable trailer to ‘ brick and mortar, two Sidney women open new boutique PHOTO BY NICOLE LUCINA/SIDNEY HERALD Owners Billie Hillesland, left, and Larysa Hurst in their new store. BY NICOLE lUCINA Sidney Herald Three things to know about Meraki 1. After selling LuLa Roe for a year, half- way through Billie Hillesland and Larysa Hurst decided to start their own company, Meraki, in a trailer they would bring to different vendor shows and events. “We want- ed to be able to choose the stuff that we sold and with LuLa Roe, you just got what you got, you didn’t get to pick. We wanted to carry our own brands and shoes and jewel— ry,” Hurst said. They have had their trailer since May 2017. Recent- ly, they opened a store located at 314 S. Cen- tral Ave. 2. Meraki will carry a large range of cloth- ing including jeans, shirts, shoes, jewelry and now baby clothes in the Emersyn Lane section._ Emersyn Lane was inspired by Hurst’s daughter, Emersyn. They said their price range is af- fordable and not like other boutiques. “We try to have a healthy mix of prices,” Hurst said. Jeans range from $40 to $90 while tops range from $20 to $60. 3. For their grand opening in the store, they offered 15 Meraki bags to the first 15 peo- ple who made a pur- chase. For those who got the bags, if they go back to the store with the bag they’ll get 10 percent off their purchase. While they opened the store, they will still have their trailer at different events and vendor shows. “At the fair, that’s a big one for us. We do it every year. We definitely won’t get rid of our trailer,” Hurst said. MONTANA FREE PRESS GUIDE Who’s running in 2020 Montana voters will have a hefty ballot to con— sider in 2020, packed with decisions about the US. presidential election, two of Montana’s three con- gressional seats, and five statewideoffices includ- ing governor. Even with a year and a half until Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, Montana candidates aspir- ing and declared have begun jockeying for po- sition in primary elections set for June 2, 2020. Keeping track can feel like herding cats. The round-up that follows can help. Governor The governor is the state’s chief executive, tasked with overseeing state agencies and proposing state budgets to the Montana Legislature. The governor also holds one of five seats on the Montana Board of Land Commissioners, which has authority over state trust lands. Current Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, is termed out after two four-year terms in office — and has launched a campaign for president. Democrats have controlled the office since Gov. Brian Schweitzer was first elected in 2004. Announced —~Attorney General Tim Fox Fox, wrapping up his second four-year term as Montana’s attorney general, announced his campaign for governor in January. Originally from Hardin, he has a University of Montana law degree and formerly worked as an attorney in private practice. Website: foxforgovernorcom Facebook page: facebookcom/foxforgovernor See also: «‘ MTN News / Montana Attorney General Tim Fox announces campaign for governor Lee Newspapers Attorney General Tim Fox announces run for Montana governor ' Announced —— Secretary of State Corey Stapleton Stapleton, a former state senator, was elected secretary of state in 2016 and made unsuccessful primary bids SeeGlllDE, Page2