If you’ve been around MREA for any length of time, you know Sam Walseth, MREA’s Legislative Action Director. His legislative update session is always the most well attended at the MREA Annual Conference, and his Advocacy Briefings have been incredibly valuable for MREA Superintendents in an ever-changing environment.

Meet the MREA Team – Sam Walseth

Driving progress for rural Minnesota education

For over 15 years, Sam has been working on behalf of MREA and its members to advocate for rural Minnesota education at the legislative level.  Each fall, MREA works with members to determine their legislative priorities for the upcoming session, which is developed into the MREA platform. Sam takes the platform issues and advocates on MREA’s behalf during the legislative session. He serves as the point of contact for people inside of the state Capitol Complex on issues relating to rural education. He drives the MREA agenda with other advocacy organizations and key policy makers, keeping MREA members focused and abreast of what’s happening at the state Capitol.

MREA members also have access to Sam’s legislative insight through various legislative updates that Sam provides throughout the year as well as his virtual Advocacy Briefings every Tuesday morning during session.

A career of advocacy

A contracted member of the MREA team, Sam is the President of Capitol Hill Associates, a long-standing lobbying firm in St. Paul. In addition to his time and focus on MREA, Sam leads a lobbying team that serves a broad array of public sector and nonprofit organizations as they interact with Minnesota state policy makers.

Born and raised rural 

Sam says that rural education is in his blood. He’s the grandson of a rural school board member, the son of rural teacher, and a product of Moorhead Public Schools. “Rural education is a part of


me, through and through,” Sam says. “I’m a firm believer that Minnesotans truly live the good life and that strong rural communities are part of our state’s success. Rural education is a cornerstone of who we are, and I’m determined to do my part to make sure rural education not only survives, but thrives.”  

Family Life

When he’s not engaged in a legislative session or tracking the next education budget, Sam has a busy and fulfilling family life. Sam and his wife Stephanie live in St. Paul, just a short jaunt from the Capitol. They have a third-grade son and a daughter in first grade. Their family enjoys any and all water sports and spending time at their northern Minnesota cabin in the summer. In the winter, you’ll find the Walseth crew on the snowy ski hills enjoying the slopes.