Matt was raised by working-class parents: a school teacher and a letter carrier. He was taught to value hard work, the importance of education and the power of community. Growing up in Watsonville, Matt’s interest in local politics was sparked by his curiosity about the challenges of crime, unemployment and poor education that his hometown faced. He avidly read the local newspaper and when it came time for high school, he decided to make the long, often four hours a day commute to San Jose to attend Bellarmine College Prep, which offered him a full work-study scholarship as a low-income student. There, he was active in community service and student government, joined the wrestling team and worked on the grounds crew in the summers to pay for his education. Matt went on to Harvard where he was an honors student and student body president. He also co-led the first successful campaign to end the university’s investment in companies supporting the genocide in Darfur. This experience deepened his passion for civic engagement.
After graduating from Harvard, Matt spent a year in Bolivia building irrigation systems with family farmers to increase their economic opportunities. Matt returned to San Jose to teach middle school English and History in Alum Rock through the Teach for America program for two years. There, he worked long days, coaching the girls soccer team and keeping his classroom open after school as a safe space for his students to learn.
After teaching, Matt joined Causes, a startup and early Facebook app that enabled people to raise awareness and funds for their favorite nonprofits. Over the course of five years, Matt worked his way up from Director of Business Development to COO and eventually CEO. Causes ultimately grew to 190 million users in over 150 countries, and helped individuals fundraise over $50 million for nonprofits in the U.S. alone. In 2014, Matt co-founded Brigade along with a few colleagues. Brigade built the world’s first voter network: a nonpartisan platform for voters to discuss issues, advocate to their elected officials, and vote for candidates who reflect their values. In the 2016 and 2018 elections, Brigade reached millions of voters and empowered them with better information and tools. Brigade’s team and intellectual property were recently acquired by Pinterest and Countable, respectively.
Deeply involved in the community, Matt serves on a number of neighborhood and civic boards, including the Almaden Valley Community Association (AVCA), the District 10 Leadership Coalition, the City of San Jose’s Clean Energy Community Advisory Commission, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG), Joint Venture Silicon Valley, and San Jose Rotary. He is also a founding member of the Friends of Guadalupe Oak Grove Park, co-led the effort to save the 63 and 13 bus routes in Almaden Valley (the only bus routes that serve all of Almaden Valley), and co-chaired the 2018 Measure T campaign to secure funding for road repairs and preserve Coyote Valley. He and his wife, Silvia, live in the West Santa Teresa Foothills neighborhood, where they are raising their young daughter, Nina. They are members of Holy Spirit Church.