Award Recipient 2013 Govenor Brian Schweitzer
Govenor Brian David Schweitzer (born September 4, 1955) is an American politician who was the 23rd Governor of Montana from January 2005 to January 2013 (term limited). Schweitzer completed his term with one of the highest approval ratings among governors in the United States the polls regularly showing a rating of above 60 percent. Schweitzer chaired the Western Governors Association and formerly chaired the Democratic Governors Association. He also served as President of the Council of State Governments in 2011.
Schweitzer was born in Havre, Montana, the fourth of six children of Kathleen (née McKernan) and Adam Schweitzer. His paternal grandparents were ethnic Germans from present-day Russia and Ukraine, and his maternal grandparents were Irish. Following his high school years at Holy Cross Abbey, Canon City, Colorado in 1973, Schweitzer earned his Bachelor of Science degree in international agronomy from Colorado State University in 1978 and a Master of Science in Soil Science from Montana State University, Bozeman in 1980.
Upon finishing school, Schweitzer worked as an irrigation developer on projects in Africa, Asia, Europe and South America. He spent several years working in Libya and Saudi Arabia, and speaks Arabic. He returned to Montana in 1986 to launch a ranching and irrigation business in Whitefish. Schweitzer married Nancy Hupp in 1981.The couple began a family after returning to Montana, and are the parents of three children: Ben, Khai, and Katrina.
Bill Clinton appointed Schweitzer to the United States Department of Agriculture as a member of the Montana USDA Farm Service Agency committee, where he worked for seven years. While working for the USDA, he was appointed to the Montana Rural Development Board (1996) and the National Drought Task Force (1999).
Governor Schweitzer and the First Lady, Mrs. Nancy Schweitzer paid a visit to Ireland in 2012 to attend the annual commemorations of Waterford man, Thomas Francis Meagher, one of the first Territorial Governors of Montana and the first person to use the Irish Tricolor flag. While here, the couple travelled North to Donegal to visit Schweitzer's ancestral home in Rathmullan. Hannah Friel, the Govenors grandmother, was born in 1889 and left Rathmullan for America with her sister Mary Ann while in her early twenties. Govenor Schweitzer has maintained close contact with Donegal and has a keen interest in the county and its people.