I first visited Alexandria in 1978, shortly before entering the U.S. Naval Academy, and was awed by Alexandria’s history, neighborhoods, buildings, shops, restaurants, and people. I promised myself I would live in Alexandria if I had the opportunity. Twelve years later, I received orders to serve at the Pentagon. I rented an apartment at Fort Ellsworth Condominiums, and enjoyed living in Alexandria. After 11 more years of navy deployments, I returned to Alexandria and bought a home in 2006.
As an adjunct faculty member at Columbia University, I teach leadership and crisis decision-making to graduate students. I also consult to public and private sector entities and provide economic analysis, policy analysis, and advice to political campaigns.
My desire to serve on Alexandria’s City Council comes from love for Alexandria, a conviction that well-run local governments offer the most direct help for improving citizens’ lives, and a desire to apply my knowledge and understanding to my adopted home.
If elected to the Council, I promise the City’s work will receive my full-time attention — all to provide leadership for the common good; to serve all Alexandrians.
I am fortunate to have received a topnotch eduction — a B.S. from the United States Naval Academy; an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania; and a Ph.D. from the Wharton Center for Risk Analysis / The Center for Energy and the Environment at the University of Pennsylvania. I’m also a distinguished graduate of the National Defense University. I’ve dedicated time and resources to youth development and rehabilitation programs. I enjoy history, economics, sailing, ice hockey and politics.
My experiences as a naval officer have shaped my leadership approach — to serve the Common Good. Three events are most influential.
Barracks Bombing – Beirut, Lebanon
Half of the nearly 240 Marines killed in the 1983 bombing were from my ship. After the incident, I received an assignment that required inventorying personal belongings of deceased Marines. The experience bonded me to the dead and compelled me to understand the events that lead to their demise.
Investigations found that senior American officials had received and dismissed warnings from multiple sources explaining that terrorists would attempt to blow up the barracks. If officials had reacted appropriately to the warnings, it is likely that the Marines would not have died.
Leadership Lesson: Be inclusive in leading. The greatest expertise and insight often resides somewhere other than with high-level managers. Listen to and use advice from everyone.
Hurricane Katrina – Louisiana, Mississippi, and Beyond
The Federal Emergency Management Agency was unable to respond effectively after the 2005 hurricane. President Bush turned to the military for help. As Chief of Logistics Plans and Operations for the organization that administers military operations in North America, I was intimately involved in evaluating the response.
My analysis showed that the limited effectiveness of the responders was the result of a planning process that failed to consider how the actions of any one organization could be affected by or could affect others.
Later, I served on a team that authored the National Response Framework, providing all government and non-government stakeholders with guiding principles for a national, unified effort when responding to disaster. The Framework considered interdependencies, has been tested, and is shown to be superior to predecessor plans.
Leadership Lesson: Complex organizations working in complex environments must recognize the need for integrated planning – that accounts for interdependencies of all stakeholders.
The Great East Japan Earthquake, Tsunami, and Nuclear Disaster – Tōhuku, Japan
I was the commanding officer of a U.S. Navy organization providing logistics capability to U.S. and friendly forces throughout the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean. We sprang into action on March 11, 2011 when the earthquake hit. Every member of the workforce was committed to helping victims. Then, on day 3 of the operation, the phone rang.
The caller, a navy admiral, told me that I was breaking the law. The Anti-Deficiency Act forbids officials of the U.S. Government from expending funds absent a congressional appropriation, and there was no appropriation for assistance and relief efforts at the time. If he were in my shoes, he said, he would stop providing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief immediately.
The choice was to act against the law or against my values, the values of our Navy, and our Nation. I quickly decided to continue the operation. We saved thousands of lives. The U.S. Government later recognized that my actions were justified.
Leadership Lesson: Leaders need to act on their values and the values of the organization. Values provide guidance and are the basis for consensus and good decision-making.
Read Matt’s CV/Resume [202kb PDF]