Susan Hay Patrick

Paxon Elementary School in Missoula
Missoula County Public Schools

Missoula voters are being asked to approve two major school bond issues. They haven’t said yes to school debt of this magnitude since 1952.

Supporters of the bond questions that will appear on November's ballot say it’s time to update badly deteriorating local public schools.

Speaking Up

Nov 14, 2014

This is my last commentary for Montana Public Radio. I know they need this time for news, but I’ll miss being one of the public voices on Montana Public Radio.

So what’s on my mind as I sing my radio swan song? The election is over, thank heavens. I’m moving on to focus on the upcoming legislative sessions, both in Helena and in DC.

Suggestions for Civility

Oct 15, 2014

Lately I’ve been thinking about civility.  Or the lack of it.  I know – what a quaint notion in the 21st Century; the thought that – even in an election year – we can discuss important, provocative and even divisive issues with civility and mutual respect.  It sounds so…archaic.

Five Tips for Effective Philanthropy

Sep 16, 2014

The lake cabin is closed up; the boat’s in dry dock; the kids are back at school – all signs that fall is here.  And so is the beginning of the fall fundraising season.  Our mailboxes – both electronic and old-fashioned – are filling up with charitable appeals. 

So, let’s talk about how to be an effective philanthropist, whether you’re giving away 50 bucks or 50 grand.

Preventing Suicide Is Everybody’s Business

Aug 20, 2014

Robin Williams’ suicide has rocked the nation.  How could someone with such talent, so universally beloved, not see life as worth living? 

Closer to home, too many of us in western Montana have lost family, friends and colleagues to suicide.  Their deaths leave a hole in our hearts and in the fabric of our community.  As we grieve the loss of a loved one to suicide, we agonize over whether we missed warning signs, and ask ourselves what more we could have done. 

Kids Count – And They Need Our Help

Jul 24, 2014

It’s summer in Montana – that means so much to celebrate about living in beautiful Big Sky country:  our lakes and rivers, mountains and trails; glorious national parks, a festival a week to enjoy.  Montana is a great place to live.  So I feel almost guilty in dropping a wet-blanket fact:  Montana is a great place to live, depending on who you are.

Lessons from Cambodia

Jun 25, 2014

I recently returned from a trip to Cambodia through an economic empowerment program hosted by the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center at The University of Montana.   Congress created this international exchange in 1961, the same year the Berlin Wall was built.  The Cold War was entering the deep freeze and the Vietnam conflict was ramping up.  Montana’s great statesman Mike Mansfield hoped that an economic and cultural exchange program would build bridges between the U.S. and Southeast Asia.

Five-Minute Commencement Speech

May 28, 2014

 

 

This is the time of year for commencement speeches.  You know, that onerous tradition of making graduates suffer through a speech before handing them their diplomas. 

Few commencement speeches are memorable – my high-school one was, because the speaker was the actress Margaret Hamilton, the Wicked Witch in “The Wizard of Oz.”  Nobody really listened to the speech; we were all just waiting for her to say, “I’ll get you, my pretty” – which, of course, she did. 

Montana Nonprofits: The Economic Engines That Could

Apr 30, 2014

Montana Nonprofits:  The Economic Engines That Could

The other day, I ran into an old friend at the grocery store.  “Are you still with United Way?” she asked.  “Yes,” I said.  “And is that what you do full-time?” she continued.  I gave her the only answer that came to mind:  “I’m trying to get it down to full time,” I said.

Collaboration

Apr 2, 2014

Recently, I was asked to speak about collaboration in the nonprofit world:  what it is, why it’s important; what makes it work and what makes it fail.  That got me thinking. 

As a start, I looked up “collaboration” in the dictionary.  Its two definitions amused me.  Collaboration is first defined as “the act of working together with one or more people in order to achieve something”; and second, as “the betrayal of others by working with an enemy, especially an occupying force.”

Your Nonprofit Wants You to Hear This

Mar 5, 2014

Your Nonprofit Wants You to Hear This

Hey, nonprofit board members, listen up.  Your nonprofit organization has asked me to talk to you.  Yes, you.  I mean, I ASSUME your nonprofit wants me to talk to you.  Otherwise, why would the CEOs of so many nonprofit organizations, from A to Z – from arts organizations to zoos – talk to me ABOUT you?  They MUST want me to talk TO you.

Community Progress Brightens Gloomy February

Feb 7, 2014

One of my favorite cartoons shows two schoolboys in a blinding snowstorm.   It’s dark out; they’re bundled up and hunched against the wind; clearly, they’re miserable.  One boy looks at the other and says, “I can see why they made February the shortest month.”

That line resonates with me during these grey days and cold nights, especially when I often work on some pretty bleak subjects:  kids dropping out of school, homelessness, childhood obesity, hunger.  But bright spots of recent progress in those areas promise to make THIS February a lot less gloomy.

Let’s Put an End to the Overhead Myth

Jan 24, 2014

Nonprofit leaders joke that Missoula has five seasons:  winter, spring, summer, fall – and fundraising.  We’re in the thick of that season now at United Way of Missoula County.

We’re not alone.  All over Missoula, banquets are being planned and grant proposals submitted.  And donors – faced with a plethora of worthy causes – do their best to figure out which charities are most deserving.