Matt Russell – Executive Director

Matt Russell became Executive in April 2018. He grew up on a family farm near Anita, Iowa, received his B.A. from Loras College in Dubuque, and studied for the Catholic Diocese of Des Moines at the University of St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein Seminary in Illinois. In 2003 he earned an M.S. in Rural Sociology from Iowa State University. In addition to his work at Drake, Matt and his husband Patrick Standley operate Coyote Run Farm, a 110 acre farm in rural Lacona and market fresh produce, eggs, and beef at farmers markets and other local outlets.

Before coming to Iowa Interfaith Power & Light, Matt worked at the Drake University Agricultural Law Center on issues concerning retail agriculture, land tenure, conservation, climate change, farmer veterans, rural development, state food policy, and federal farm policy. Prior to his 12 years at Drake, he was an organizer for Iowa Citizen Action Network, worked for the National Catholic Rural Life Conference, and taught at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, Nevada. He has taught Sociology at Des Moines Area Community College and undergraduate courses at Drake about Cuba in transition and agriculture policy. His work on sustainability has taken him to 26 states, the District of Columbia, Scotland, Italy, and Cuba. He served on the Iowa Farm Service Agency State Committee of the USDA from 2010 through 2017.

Matt can be reached at or by phone at 515.689.1112.


Sarah Paulos – Program and Outreach Director

Sarah is the creator of the Cool Congregations program, which she brought to over 400 congregations in 6 years in Iowa and 15 other states. It is now a program of the national Interfaith Power and Light organization. Among other programs she developed for Iowa IPL are Food, Faith, Climate: Connecting the Dots, The Good Life Redefined, and Faith for Energy Equity. An inspiring part of her work is writing Success Stories about people who are motivated by their beliefs to take action on climate.

In addition to her work for Iowa IPL, Sarah helped design and deliver Cool Neighbors, a neighborhood energy reduction challenge between historic neighborhood associations, and worked with Yards for Kids, a neighborhood toxics reduction program, both based out of the Center for Energy and Environmental Education at the University of Northern Iowa.

Sarah can be reached at