BACKGROUND

kma2011
Me and my daughter Auður Kolka during sheep herding in 2011

I’m a first generation university graduate.

I was born and raised in Reykjavík, Iceland. However, I feel “at home” in the North of Iceland where my great-grandparents were subsistence farmers. One of my favorite things to do is herding sheep down from the highlands in the Fall.

I’m married to Sólveig Alda Halldórsdóttir (artist) and we have three kids. My hobbies include board games, soccer, hiking, and fishing. For sports I play soccer and badminton. In Madison I also coached youth soccer.


Previous Lives

I have substantial non-academic experience. I led a team at a government agency. I’ve worked with people who face challenges in their lives, due to physical or mental disabilities or because of social and drug related issues. Additionally, I have extensive experience in doing media interviews (on both sides of the microphone). I’ve also worked as an advisor for government agencies and unions in Iceland.

I worked full-time at the Environment Agency of Iceland (EAI) between 2008 and 2014. There I was in charge of public relations, publications and various information related projects. My work to give broader public access to information from industry monitoring (pollution) was highlighted by a European audit as “exemplary” and has since been implemented by other European environmental agencies. Furthermore I was extensively involved in policy and organizational innovation.

In the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008-2009 in Iceland, I started a non-profit/non-partisan think-tank in Iceland around democracy and sustainability. Its goal is to promote evidence-based policies to counter the growing gulf between voters and political elites. Our work has been covered by every major news organization in Iceland and featured in several documentaries. Our organization put numerous policies on the public agenda in Iceland, such as citizen assemblies, participatory budgeting, a shorter work week, universal basic income, and democratic governance of firms and political parties.

During summers as a graduate student in Iceland I was a radio producer and presenter at the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. I co-hosted an hour long daily show called Society in Focus – one of the longest running programs on Icelandic radio.

Lastly, during my undergraduate and graduate studies I worked for various organizations specializing in after-school activities and summer camps. There I worked with kids and adults, with and without disabilities. Furthermore, I worked at a rehabilitation center for teenagers with serious drug and social problems.