Erick Shambarger – Alumni in the Spotlight

Erick Shambarger (MPA ’02) was drawn to Wisconsin because of the state’s tradition of government innovation, environmental protection,Headshot of Erick Shambarger and professionalism in public service, and has worked for the City of Milwaukee for over 21 years. He leads the Environmental Collaboration Office as the director of environmental sustainability, where he works to develop practical solutions that benefit the Milwaukee environment and economy.

Shambarger enjoys taking on the challenge of reducing fossil fuel use while supporting a clean economy. “Fossil fuels are ingrained throughout our entire economy—in buildings, the production of electricity, and our transportation systems. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions while strengthening our economy and improving people’s day-to-day lives is the challenge of our time,” he says. By the end of 2024, the Environmental Collaboration Office plans to have a team of nine people dedicated to reducing greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in city operations, housing, and commercial buildings, as well as facilitating the transition to electric and low-emission vehicles.

Shambarger says his time at La Follette helped him achieve his career goals and make a real difference for Milwaukee and the planet. “La Follette provided a really strong foundation in public policy and economic analysis,” he says. Shambarger, who also completed a certificate in energy analysis and policy from the Nelson Institute while at La Follette, enjoyed being able to take classes across a wide range of disciplines. “But most of all,” he says, “I made good friends from different backgrounds who broadened my perspective.”

In his work, Shambarger uses skills acquired in his La Follette education daily. “The broad-based education allows me to advance policy proposals because I can effectively communicate and incorporate feedback from many disciplines including finance, economics, environmental science, and politics,” he says. At La Follette, he learned key differences and responsibilities of public-sector management as distinct from the private sector, and to focus on achieving results in his work, not just putting in the effort.

“I encourage students to study servant-leadership principles to go along with policy and management,” Shambarger says. “Working in government is a great privilege and we have a responsibility to effectively serve the public and build opportunity for all we serve, including those who have historically been marginalized.”

Alumni in the Spotlight

To celebrate La Follette’s 40th anniversary, each month in 2024 we are highlighting alumni who influence policymaking at the highest levels in government, nonprofit, and private-sector organizations across the country and abroad.


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