What is your name?
What do you do for work and what is your slash (aka what do you do in your free time)?
I am the Chief Economist at the Montana Department of Labor & Industry. I also teach an online economics at Great Falls College and own an economic research consulting firm, Wagner Research. When I am not doing economics, I love to be Montanan and do what Montanans do -- fish, ski, shoot, float, etc. My new thing has been wakesurfing and SUPing in the last few years, and this year I want to learn how to telemark ski and mountain bike. I also like doing home improvement projects, and recently finished tiling my shower.
How did you land in Helena?
I moved here for a job at the Department of Revenue after graduate school. It was nice to get back home to Montana after working in Minnesota and DC for a few years.
What is the best piece of advice that you ever received – career-related or otherwise?
Many of us think of Lisa Schmidt as a role model for fitness, but she also has sage life advice. My favorite advice from Lisa is: Don't make it a problem if it isn't a problem, but if its a problem, fix it. Its helpful both in my personal life and in my professional life, especially in managing my employees.
When do you feel the most yourself?
Mixing drinks for my friends. :) Also, when I'm home on the farm with the empty prairie stretching out all around me with the smell of warm dust and sage brush, with nothing but the sky limiting life possibilities and no one but myself there to make it happen.
Where is the last place you explored and where do you want to explore next?
I am currently exploring my capacity to see things from a different perspective, despite the fact that the opposing perspective is contradictory to my values and based in mis-information and bigotry. Its really an ongoing exploration, and I expect it to last about four years. For my next corporeal exploration, I want to go to California because I've only been there once for a day. It has been a life-long dream to be on the Price is Right ever since I was three and watched it every morning after Sesame Street, The Incredible Hulk, and 3-2-1 Contact. We only got two channels on the farm, so there wasn't much choice in what I would watch.
Tell us something about yourself that we didn’t ask:
I grew up on a farm in Northeast Montana, where my sister and I owned a livestock operation and sold cattle and pigs for college (obviously with a lot of help from my parents). I took out my first loan in the 7th grade, and had over 200 pics and about 100 head of cattle at the peak of the operation. It got me through college with minimal student loans, and was the primary qualification for my first post-college job working on agriculture policy in the U.S. Senate. But the long-lasting impact is the farm factoids that I frequently bring up in conversations with friends. A few months ago, I told my pregnant friend that cows always have their babies during storms, then had an awkward moment when I realized that I just compared her to a cow...