Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Foundation board member nurtures the gift of giving

Daily Inter Lake | February 5, 2024 12:00 AM

Alanna Weibert had just wrapped up her time on the board of the Humane Society of Northwest Montana when the opportunity to get involved in the Montana Community Foundation came her way. 

Weibert, a certified public accountant and one of three new board members of the statewide philanthropic organization, described it as perfect timing.

“I believe that each person should give back as they’re able to,” Weibert said, illuminated in soft white light in her Kalispell office on a recent foggy January morning. 

The group’s mission hooked her, she said. The foundation, which manages more than $160 million in assets and administers over 1,400 philanthropic funds and gifts, describes its charge as boosting communities by developing a culture of giving.

“That was really important to me,” Weibert said. “I’m not from Montana, but I have really strong roots in Montana, so giving back was really important to me.”

Though raised in Lewiston, Idaho, Weibert is the granddaughter of Butte businessmen. Her parents were high school sweethearts who ended up settling in neighboring Idaho. Her childhood included frequent trips back to Butte, which meant passing through Missoula, where she eventually attended college at the University of Montana. 

She was a teenager and still in Idaho when she discovered her passion for community service. It came about after she got her driver’s license, she recalled.

“My friends and I were asking, ‘What were we going to do,’ so we ended up bringing food to the Humane Society in my hometown,” Weibert said. “I think it kind of snowballed out of [those] experiences.”

In high school, she volunteered at a local hospital and in college got involved in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. Weibert discovered accounting about the same time. 

Unsure of where she wanted to steer her studies, she ended up taking an introduction to accounting class. Weibert remembered the instructor approaching her one day. Accounting either clicks with a person or it doesn’t, and it seemed like it had clicked with Weibert, she recalled her teacher saying. 

“It’s very much like a puzzle,” Weibert said. “I love the clarity of putting the pieces together.”

It’s a skill that Weibert, now a certified public accountant with JCCS, will put to use as a member of the Montana Community Foundation’s board of directors. Along with the four annual board meetings — two in-person and two remote — Weibert will serve on the organization’s audit committee.

But the bulk of her work on the board, she expects, will be steering the staff, offering guidance and providing oversight. Drawing on her prior experience with the Humane Society of Northwest Montana, Weibert said she expects to lean on the foundation’s executive director and her fellow board members to get acclimated. She noted that the foundation also hosts an onboarding process for new board members, which she expected to quickly get her up to speed. 

Weibert formally joined the board Jan. 1 alongside Billings resident Sara Becker, a senior vice president at First Interstate Bank, and Reach Higher Montana Executive Director Kelly Cresswell of Helena. The trio will serve three-year terms on the board. 

The process began during the holiday season when a JCCS shareholder passed the opportunity along, Weibert recalled. When considering a volunteer or service position, determining your level of passion is the first step, she said. 

Joining the board of the Humane Society of Northwest Montana made sense, said Weibert, a lifelong animal lover with a cat (Simba) and dog (Zoola, in a nod to her college town) at home. The Montana Community Foundation gives her another way to focus on her passions, she said. 

“Being a steward of giving is a really incredible mission,” Weibert said. 

“I think it’s a huge mission,” she added, spreading her hands wide, “but really incredible.”

News Editor Derrick Perkins can be reached at 758-4430 or