Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Matthew Burr, MIPA

Matthew Burr, MIPA

Hometown
Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin

Undergraduate education
Bachelor’s degree in Spanish, UW–Madison, 2009

Expected graduation date
May 2018

Age
31

Why a MIPA?
I was reaching back to my undergraduate education in Spanish when I chose MIPA over MPA. I studied abroad in Madrid, Spain, during my junior year, and it was one of the best years of my life.

Why the La Follette School?
I’ve always been a proud Badger – both parents went to school here, and I’ve been coming to Camp Randall with family since I was young. I’ve lived in Madison for eight of my 31 years, and having a top policy school in my backyard made coming to La Follette an easy decision when I left my last job.

Career goals
I know that I’ll be happiest and most fulfilled if the work I do helps people who need help. I’ve had a lot of advantages and good fortune in my life, and La Follette is just one of a string of opportunities that those advantages have afforded me. Not everyone has access to the same level of opportunity as I do, and that needs changing. A world with more equality of opportunity is attainable, and public policy is the key. I want my career goals to align with that broader notion, which starts with service to the underserved.

Internship
Since April 2017, I’ve been a policy/research intern for Forward Health Group, a Madison-based health technology company with a population health platform. I first met the founder, Michael Barbouche, as part of the informational interview assignment for Professor Shager’s Professional Development course at La Follette. Good things happen if you do your homework!

Advice to prospective La Follette School students
After graduating from UW–Madison in 2009, I worked for U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl’s office in Washington, D.C., until 2012. I then moved back to Madison to work for Special Olympics Wisconsin as director of development for government relations and strategic grants.

I learned about aging and retirement issues because Sen. Kohl was Chairman of the Senate Aging Committee. I learned about the needs of people with disabilities, and the relevant state and federal policy issues, because of the commitment and passion of the amazing people at Special Olympics.

My advice to prospective La Follette students is to keep your “policy interests” open, and allow yourself to become interested and passionate about new topics as your life introduces them.

La Follette School Student Association
I’m the fundraiser for LSSA, and I helped organize the La Follette merchandise order this year.

Volunteer activities
I hope to continue helping coach the soccer team for the West Madison Special Olympics chapter.

People would be surprised if they knew that I ...
Love to follow films/the film industry, which means this is an especially exciting time! Haven’t seen The Shape of Water yet, which looks like a favorite for some of the bigger awards. Loved Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour, he’s probably a good bet for Best Actor this year.