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Breaking the Ice: Determination fuels MPCA advocate

Name: Greta Gauthier

Title: Legislative director, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

Education: Bachelor of Arts, journalism and political science, University of Minnesota; Master of Public Administration, Maxwell School, Syracuse University.

Dinnertime conversations about current events and a Lutheran minister father who admired public service influenced Greta Gauthier to pursue a career largely in public policy.

She says her job as legislative director for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, which she has held since January 2015, requires “transparency, honesty, solid information and hard work.” That approach, however, doesn’t guarantee every proposal or project will succeed, as she learned as legislative director for the Agriculture Department and other policy work.

“You just have to keep going,” Gauthier said. “Compromise is the name of the game. Nobody gets everything they want at the Capitol.”

Q. What’s the best way to start a conversation with you?

A. Talk about food. I love to eat. I love to cook. Talk about travel. Talk about interesting things about Minnesota and history. I like history. My mom is a history teacher.

Q. What books are on your bedside table or e-reader?

A. I just finished “Strangers in Their Own Land.” It’s about the Tea Party. I like to read young adult sometimes because I have teenagers and they can read it. So I’m reading a young adult book called “The Forgetting.” My daughter wants to read it, so I’m reading it with her and we can debate it and she can tell me why I’m wrong.

Q. What’s a favorite activity outside your job?

A. I love to cook. It’s creative and the work that you put into it comes to fruition fairly quickly and makes people happy pretty quickly. I love to be outside. All seasons. I cross-country ski, I like to hike and bicycle ride. I did zip-lining for the first time this summer and loved it, although it was scary at the beginning.

Q. If someone visits you in your hometown, what would you take them to see or do?

A. When people come to visit, I like to take them walking on the Stone Arch Bridge, down around the Capitol complex, the Chain of Lakes, Como Lake. Just be out walking in the sunshine.

Q. What’s one way to end partisan polarization?

A. I wish I knew. Whoever figures that out will be able to do a lot of good things for a lot of people. But I don’t know.

Q. What’s the last arts or cultural event you attended?

A. I took my husband to see “South Pacific” at the Guthrie. He was in that in high school, so he was in seventh heaven — loved it. It was fun. They did a nice job as always.

Q. Where do you like to eat lunch?

A. I usually eat at my desk, but if I go out I like Buttered Tin here. I like Swede Hollow. There are a lot of good restaurants around here, but I don’t get out much.

Q. If you’re not at your desk, where are you likely to be?

A. I’m at the Capitol or in a meeting in [the MPCA building in St. Paul] or at another one of our sister agencies. … My position is really focused externally, so I spend a good half-year at the Capitol all the time. … Lots of committees meet during the interim.

Q. What have you missed most with the Capitol under renovation?

A. Having the floor sessions going on at the same time and everybody being there. It was my 17th session and it’s just very weird not being in the building at all.

Q. What’s your favorite hidden place at the Capitol?

A. It’s not really hidden, but what I like is the Senate gallery on the west side. You can go behind it and there’s a little hallway back there with windows and it’s a really pretty view at sunset. It’s just a quiet place. You can go back there and just look at the sunset.

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