Alumnus Marshall Matz ’71 Devotes Career to Food Security
Last year, Marshall Matz stepped down as Chairman of the law firm of Olsson Frank Weeda (OFW Law) in Washington, D.C. after a wide-ranging and fulfilling career, one he hardly foresaw. “I always assumed I would be a trial lawyer,” Matz said, “as that was what I wanted to do.” But instead of entering the field of trial practice the 1971 graduate of the University of Louisville Law School instead pursued a rewarding and rich career as a counsel and lobbyist in the Senate, crafting much of the legislation and standards that have been adapted over the years to form the basis of domestic and global food programs.
Matz’s career took him places he never expected. Born in Massachusetts, and raised in Connecticut, he confesses to having been a less than diligent student at UConn before coming to Louisville, where the School of Law gave him the tools he needed to develop and mature. As he says, “It was the perfect law school for me. I loved UofL and I applied myself when I was there.”
After graduation and passing the Connecticut bar, Matz started his legal career on a Native American reservation in South Dakota before being introduced to George McGovern, the challenging Democratic nominee to Richard Nixon in the 1972 Presidential Election. He followed McGovern to D.C. to help develop the Senator’s food security agenda, becoming Counsel to the Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs and the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. Ultimately Matz crafted legislation that Senator McGovern and Republican Senator Bob Dole championed, leading to free school lunches, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Food and Nutrition Service.
Continuing his work with McGovern and Dole beyond their time in the Senate, Matz shared their global vision of a world where even the poorest could be food secure. Based in D.C., he has been a lobbyist and consultant, advocating for national and international food security. His contributions to the field have been recognized in many ways. Among the awards and honors has received include the 2009 Gene White Lifetime Achievement Award for Child Nutrition, a Lifetime Achievement Award by Congressional Hunger Center in 2018, and the World Food Program naming a boardroom for him in 2020.
Matz may no longer be the Chairman of OFW but he is by no means finished advocating for food security – if anything his efforts are more international. Having founded the World Food Program-USA, he is currently the US Ambassador for the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). His passion for food security keeps him going, he knows there is still work to be done.
Fifty-two years after graduating from UofL Law, he is still grateful for his experiences, and how well his education here has served him over the years. “It’s been a wonderful career, and UofL was my launching pad.”