Alumnus Selected for Presidential Leadership Scholars Program

Cobber Connections: RDO vice president joins network of scholars.

Adam Gilbertson ’99, vice president of RDO Equipment Co., has been selected as one of the 60 scholars chosen for the Presidential Leadership Scholars (PLS) program’s sixth annual class.

PLS serves as a catalyst for a diverse network of leaders brought together to collaborate and make a difference in the world as they learn about leadership through the lens of the presidential experiences of George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Lyndon B. Johnson. Since its launch in 2015, scholars have consistently reported remarkable growth in leadership skills, responsibilities, and opportunities for impact.

“It’s an honor to be selected to participate in such an incredible program,” Gilbertson said. “This is a unique opportunity to work with brilliant minds across the country. I look forward to continuing my focus on improving the pathway to great careers in the equipment industry through partnerships with our local high schools.”

After a rigorous application and review process, scholars were selected based on their leadership growth potential and personal leadership projects aimed at improving civic engagement or social good by addressing a problem or need in their community. Scholars will travel to each participating presidential center to learn from former presidents, key former administration officials, business and civic leaders, and leading academics. They will study and put into practice varying approaches to leadership and exchange ideas to help strengthen their impact in their communities. The program kicked off in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 28.

“We had a pretty incredible first day, meeting the staff and team from the PLS program and doing introductions with the 60 scholars – quite an impressive group of Americans from all around the country,” Gilbertson said. “The night ended at the national archives, with dinner in the rotunda with the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. The welcome presentation was delivered by the secretary of the archives. It was an incredibly fitting place to start this journey.”

Gilbertson has been with RDO since 2003, working in varying roles from agricultural equipment sales, general management of RDO’s Montana John Deere stores, and as the leader of RDO Integrated Controls, the technology positioning division of the company. In addition to his work at RDO, Gilbertson is president of the Montana Equipment Dealers Association and served in the U.S. Army and Minnesota Army National Guard for nine years.

“We are proud of Adam’s leadership in workforce development in Montana and are extremely excited about the opportunity PLS provides to further his efforts in acquiring and sustaining new talent to the construction and equipment industries,” said Daryl Shelton, RDO executive vice president. “Adam has demonstrated a passion to positively impact the communities and customers we serve, leveraging Montana high school intern programs. With this involvement, and a sustaining commitment to partner with other stakeholders, a broader and skilled labor pool is developed for industry.”

The latest class joins an active network of 298 scholars who are applying lessons learned through the program to make a difference in the U.S. and around the world.