Matilda Hansen says “My vote was never for sale.” From a woman who speaks her mind, it’s easy to delve into a political agenda, and she has. Being a farmer’s daughter has put labor issues close to her heart and she knows that people are the state’s biggest resource. Yet, she looks at all aspects of what it takes to make a strong state, from the rights of women and children to mineral severance taxes, to who is putting “their paws all over the resources.”
We are small enough that people can get to their public decision makers easily, and our voters ought to hold us accountable. “The goal is for the people to have a good life,” she says. “I have administrative gifts and process to help get to those ends.”
When Hansen talks about quality leadership she thinks of the history of the state, how Wyoming women did not give up the right to own property in the early days when other states had laws prohibiting such freedoms. She feels the state still needs these kinds of people – with integrity, with backbone. A good leader is someone who wants to “give to the state.” She notes that too much ideology and not enough positive action are what make decisions and operations go off kilter.
Hansen is a master at thinking systematically, that is seeing what is in place and knowing the person who will fit each job. In essence, she’s stashing away the information and sharing it when it’s appropriate, she explains. “I invent ways for people to work together. Open the doors and show them what can happen,” she says.
Somehow, while doing all of this humanity juggling, Hansen has managed to write two books. Further symbolism comes when she speaks about being a ten year old watching her aunts and cousins put tiny stitches in the Autographed quilt assembled for her by her mother. The colorful pattern materials of each block were scraps left over from a dress or apron made by an aunt, then each embroidered her own signature in blue on the biggest white triangle piece of the block. The quilt has 48, 12” x 12” blocks. Only living aunts were included; among them are 3 great-great aunts and 28 great aunts. Hansen remembers sitting beside her grandmother, while making her “own acceptably small stitches and listening to the fascinating storytelling conversations around the quilt,” she says. Perhaps from then on, she’s been stitching it all together.