As Program Director, Matt leads our overall strategy to engage conservation voters and make sure conservationists are heard, whether through elections, policy advocacy, or other means. Matt works closely with our government affairs, field, and communications teams to create a holistic approach to protecting our environment. Matt also leads Wisconsin Conservation Voters’ electoral program.
I credit my resilience, work ethic, and respect for our environment to my experiences in the outdoors while growing up in Watertown – hiking bluffs, harvesting firewood, fishing, and gazing at the constellations by campfire light. I recall one camping trip where my father and I fell asleep watching a lightning storm and awoke with half of our campsite flooded, yet we continued to camp. I loved storms and was particularly fascinated by the power of tornadoes. I planned to one day become a storm chaser.
The American Legion’s Badger Boys State program first sparked my interest in politics. As I worked with other residents in shaping our hypothetical 51st state, I began to understand the privilege we have as Americans to participate in our democracy. I learned how much power we each have to initiate change in our communities.
While pursuing my dream of storm chasing at the University of Wisconsin, I became more and more concerned about the role of climate change in extreme weather events. I also became convinced that politics were a key part of the solution. Politicians are in the driver’s seat, and as the Program Director with Wisconsin Conservation Voters, I have the opportunity every day to make sure our leaders steer us in the right direction.
Thus far, my most fulfilling experience in this role was defeating the Open-Pit Mining Bill in 2012 and running our Native Vote program for over six years. As a member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa myself, it has been a privilege leading tribal members to their first lobbying meetings, first public hearings, and first time to the ballot box.
- University of Wisconsin-Madison: Bachelor of Arts in political science; certificate in environmental studies
- Wisconsin State Assembly: Legislative internship on natural resources and constituent services
- 2018 Kids Forward Giraffe Award winner for leadership of Native Vote program
- Community Shares of Wisconsin: 2012 Liesl Blockstein Community Leadership Award winner for efforts to empower the voice of Wisconsin’s native communities in the democratic process
- First recipient of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies Early Career Alumni Award in 2014
- Led the 2012 and 2014 Native Vote Program in nearly all Wisconsin tribal communities – the program increased voter turnout on average 22 percent in native communities and a near record 90 percent turnout in the Menominee Nation
- Organized on-the-ground in more than 50 Wisconsin communities…and counting
- Mentors dozens of up and coming conservation voters and gives guest lectures at colleges, universities, and organizations
- Regularly writes opinion columns on the politics of conservation
I enjoy fishing, biking, weightlifting, camping, hunting, cribbage, and bowling.
I’m a conservation voter because natural resources are on loan to all of us. It is imperative that we all work together to pass on a quality, safe investment to our youth. It’s not only smart, it’s the right thing to do.
Favorite place in Wisconsin: Mouth of the Bad River at Lake Superior