South Dakota Lt. Governor Matt Michels, Chair of the National Lt. Governors Association
Matt Michels is South Dakota’s 38th Lieutenant Governor and the Chair of the National Lt. Governors Association (NLGA) where he has designated the State Military and Veterans Arts Program as his chair's initiative. Matt is the perfect champion for this program given his background as an elected official, a naval officer, a nurse and as an arts advocate.
As Lieutenant Governor, Matt is the President of the Senate and a member of the Governor’s Executive Committee. Matt has been a leader in the construction of the new State Veterans Home in Hot Springs and served for a time as the interim Secretary of Veterans Affairs. He also works closely with the National Guard, Tribal Relations, and serves on the Board of Trustees of the South Dakota Retirement System.
Matt Michels was born in Pierre and grew up in Vermillion. After graduating from Vermillion High School, Matt attended the University of South Dakota where he worked as an orderly and EMT and earned a nursing degree in 1980. He worked as a nurse while he obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in health services administration in 1982 and his juris doctorate in 1985, both from the University of South Dakota.
While Matt was in law school, he became interested in the prospect of serving his country and both applied and interviewed with the United States Navy Judge Advocate General's (JAG) Corp. He was commissioned a United States Naval Officer and has served on two temporary assignments and active duty in the Philippines. He was later transferred to Mayport, Florida. While in Mayport, he married his wife Karen Lindbloom of Pierre, and she worked as a registered nurse in Jacksonville, Florida. For his service he was awarded the U.S. Navy Achievement and Commendation Medals.
Although Matt and Karen had the opportunity to make the Navy a career, they missed South Dakota and felt a strong need to return to be close to family. In 1989 the Michels moved to Yankton where Karen worked as an OB nurse and Matt joined a law practice with Don Bierle, practicing health care and hospital law along with other aspects of legal services to individuals and nonprofit organizations. Prior to being elected Lt. Governor, Matt was partner in what is now Michels & Associates, Prof. LLC and served as General Counsel for Avera Health. Matt and Karen are blessed to have a son, Collin who is attending medical school at the University of South Dakota. They recently welcomed a daughter-in-law, Jill, to their family.
Matt has always had an intense desire to serve others. He was honored to represent District 18 as a member of the South Dakota House of Representatives for eight years from 1999 to 2006. While in the legislature, Matt served for two years as Speaker Pro Tempore and as Speaker of the House for four years. He was the first person to serve two terms as Speaker since the 1950s. Matt was the 2015 recipient of Americans for the Arts Public Leadership in the Arts Award for State Arts Leadership.