Nancy Davidson was selected as the 2015 “We Stand Tall” honoree. This award is given annually to a woman—or man—who has inspired Athena members of the Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce to “stand tall” and to assume community and statewide leadership roles.
Davidson is often recognized as a philanthropist along with her husband, Ian, of Davidson Company; however, she personally has volunteered an impressive amount of time to community and state organizations throughout the last 52 years. It is for taking on leadership roles as a volunteer that the Athenas recognize Nancy Davidson.
Other than college years, Davidson has lived most of her life in Great Falls. As Nancy Preston, she graduated from Great Falls High School in 1955 and University of Montana with a degree in biological science in 1959. After college she taught one year at West Junior High and then became a genetic research assistant at the McLaughlin Research Institute from 1961-1967.
She began volunteering with the Junior League in 1963. She was chairman of the Celebrity Series committee when it slated Harrison Salisbury, Lillian Gish, and Vincent Price as speakers. Price was an expert on pottery so while he was in Great Falls, he juried a pottery show at the Russell Museum.
Once her obligation with the Junior League became fulfilled, she began volunteering in education and science, both special areas of interest for her. She served as chairman of the Great Falls Public School Board of Trustees and was a member of the Montana Higher Education Commission for the 90’s and beyond.
Seeing a need to support public universities as their budgets became tighter each year, Davidson was active as chairman of the University of Montana Foundation and a member of several of its capital campaign committees. She has been active with the Great Falls College MSU board and the Davidson Honors College Advisory Committee.
Davidson has lent her expertise when serving on the National Development Council for the McLaughlin Institute, Benefis Healthcare Foundation, and Montana Deaconess Hospital Board.
She also was the first woman director for the First National Bank. All together she has served on 22 boards—often serving on several at the same time. She is presently a member of the Special Olympics Montana Board.
“Nancy comes to a meeting prepared because she has fulfilled her responsibilities,” said Nancy O’Brien, an Athena member. “She is succinct and accurate, which other board members always appreciate.”
Originators of the “We Stand Tall” award are those who have received the Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce Athena Award since 1986. Each year a woman is recognized with the Athena Award for assuming business and economic development leadership roles and for mentoring other women. By 2011 the number of Athenas had reached 25, which was sufficient to look, as a group, to the community to honor those who had inspired them to “Stand Tall.” Molly Person and M.A. Roberts were honored in 2012; Bill and Joan-Nell Macfadden, in 2013; and Judy Ericksen, in 2014.