Matt Russell – Executive Director

Matt Russell has spent his career working in non-profits and advocating for social justice. He spent the first 11 years training for and working in ministry and the last 16 years doing secular work focused primarily on economic and environmental sustainability. He is energized to be drawing on his diverse background to to lead Iowa IPL since April 2018.

He studied for the Catholic Diocese of Des Moines at the University of St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein Seminary in Illinois from 1994 to 1996.  He earned an M.S. in Rural Sociology from Iowa State University and received a B.A. from Loras College in Dubuque where he was a member of St. Pius X Seminary. 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 religion at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, Nevada. He has taught Sociology at Des Moines Area Community College and undergraduate courses at Drake university. 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 is a fifth generation Iowa farmer. He and his husband Patrick Standley operate Coyote Run Farm, a 110 acre farm in rural Lacona. They raise fresh produce, heirloom tomato plants, and grass-finished beef.

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