We’re pleased to introduce the newest member of our team, Matt Sommerfeldt, Director of Education.
Matt has also gained experience as a high school Spanish and English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher. In addition, he had a general practice of law at Richard A. Low & Company, LLP in Lethbridge from 2008 – 2014. In 2014, Matt switched gears, gaining experience as Legal Counsel at the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta in Edmonton.
Outside of the office, Matt devotes his time not only to his loving family of 4, but also to his volunteer position with the J. Reuben Clark Law Society.
Matt has been settling in nicely here at LESA, getting to know the staff and delving straight in to projects for the 2016/2017 educational year.
In a recent interview, we chatted with Matt to get to know him a bit more. Here’s what he had to say.
What is your background and how did you end up at LESA?
I came out of high school completely unsure of what I wanted to do, but I liked being outside so I went into forestry. I then went on a mission for my church, working with people in the Latino community in Montreal, where I fell in love with the Spanish language and culture. I came back to university and received my B.Ed. degree in 2001, before I became a high school Spanish and ESL teacher. I taught for a couple of years before I decided to go to law school. During the application process, I came across the University of New Brunswick, and decided to apply out there. I got an immediate yes, and moved across the country to go to school from 2004 – 2007. The goal when I left for New Brunswick was to come back to Edmonton or Calgary, but during law school I converted to a small city lifestyle. So when I came back, I went to Lethbridge. I had a general practice of law down there for about 6.5 years, but the draw to Edmonton kept pulling me back, so I took my job at the Court of Queen’s Bench as Legal Counsel in 2014. This was a contract position for 2 years, and as the contract neared, I started looking for a new adventure. Then I stumbled upon LESA.
What is your role at LESA?
As Director of Education, I oversee all of the educational programming and resources as well as help oversee CPLED. One of the things I’m doing right now is creating project charters. It’s the why behind all of the programs that we do – figuring out what the rationale is and what we are hoping to achieve. Another big part of my role is building relationships – helping people achieve their best and reach their full potential.
What are you looking forward to this calendar year?
I’m really looking forward to working with great people and learning a whole bunch of new things. I’m also looking forward to helping out with some of the heavy lifting – like carrying binders from vehicles. I’m particularly interested in figuring out how programs really run – being on the other side of LESA programming and getting to know how all of it works.
What do you enjoy doing outside the office?
I love doing things with my kids. I’ve got a 7-year-old and 3-year-old twins, so tea parties, wrestling matches, soccer, pushing on swings – I seem to do a lot of that these days – and we also do a lot of bike riding as a family. My wife loves vegetable gardening, so I help her with that, and I personally love nature walks and bird watching – just being outside.
What attracted you to LESA?
I had some vague notions as to the back office side of LESA, as I’ve been to seminars, but I really didn’t know that someone in my position could work here. When I started my job search, I was exploring everything. I met with crown prosecutors to see if I wanted to get into that, I looked into all sorts of law jobs – in-house counsel, small firms, larger firms, returning to Lethbridge, and maybe even going back for a Master’s Degree. However, during my search, it became very clear that I wanted to work for an organization like this, though I assumed it would be as a lawyer. When I read LESA’s job description, I thought—they wrote that for me!
One of the things that really caught my attention was something I noticed when I first stepped foot in LESA’s office. There’s an atmosphere here that you can feel. I’m sure that there are very stressful days for people, but there is just something that’s light, refreshing, and exciting about this place. That was a huge draw for me … it kind of feels like I’m coming home.
On behalf of our LESA team, we look forward to getting to know you more and are excited for a successful year of LESA programming.
Welcome to the team Matt Sommerfeldt!