La Follette School alumnus Peter Tempelis (MPA, JD ’06) received a Forward under 40 Award from the Wisconsin Alumni Association (WAA) on February 2. WAA President Paula Bonner presented the award to Tempelis, whom she described as a “paragon of professionalism.”
In 2016, Tempelis was named an assistant attorney general in the Medicaid Fraud Control & Elder Abuse Unit of the Wisconsin Department of Justice. He previously served as an assistant district attorney in Milwaukee County, and in 2015, the Wisconsin District Attorneys Association honored him as the state’s Assistant District Attorney of the Year.
“I am a product of the University of Wisconsin–Madison and those who generously gave their time to teach and mentor me,” Tempelis said. “My work is merely representative of what Wisconsin alumni worldwide are doing.”
Since receiving his master’s and law degrees, Tempelis has worked with La Follette School faculty members and students on various research initiatives, including a study about the high turnover rate among assistant district attorneys in Wisconsin.
Following the study and advocacy efforts by two professional organizations, the State Legislature passed a 17-step merit pay progression law for assistant district attorneys. La Follette School Professor Emeritus Dennis Dresang led the study.
Also, the legislation provided statutory pay progression for assistant district attorneys, assistant attorneys general, and assistant public defenders. “When Peter was a student, it was clear that he was exceptionally dedicated and energetic,” Dresang said. “As a UW-Madison alumnus, he has translated these traits into distinguished public service.”
Accompanying Tempelis at the award presentation were his mother, grandmother, wife, children, siblings, current and former co-workers, and several others. His sister Melinda (Mindy) and twin brother, Eric, also earned political science, public affairs, and law degrees from UW-Madison.
“My UW education taught me to apply a social-science-based interdisciplinary approach to justice, and to commit myself to the ‘continual and fearless sifting and winnowing by which alone the truth can be found’,” he said. “Why? Because to seek justice, we must first seek the truth.”
The La Follette School of Public Affairs nominated Tempelis for the award, which the WAA created in 2008 to honor exceptional UW graduates younger than 40 who are making an impact on the world by living the Wisconsin Idea.
An article about Tempelis and the other Forward under 40 Award recipients will be published in the Spring issue of On Wisconsin magazine, which is delivered to approximately 80,000 UW–Madison alumni and friends.