Meet 2019 Forward under 40 Award Recipient Matt Kopac’01

UW Major: Economics, International Relations, and Political Science
Age: 39 | Durham, North Carolina
OSustainable Business and Innovation Manager, Burt’s Bees

When it comes to the business behind Burt’s Bees, Matt Kopac makes sure the company prospers while keeping its promises to people and the planet.

Kopac sees to it that every corner of the Burt’s Bees enterprise — known for its personal-care and beauty products — is socially and environmentally responsible, from ingredient sourcing and packaging through production facilities and industry collaborations that are reshaping the personal-care sector. And as vice president and treasurer of the Burt’s Bees Greater Good Foundation, Kopac extends the company ethos of “The Greater Good” to philanthropy and community service.

Kopac takes his commitment to social responsibility far beyond his day job. He chairs the Durham Environmental Affairs Board, and he helps to steer a campaign to promote living wages for workers in the Durham area.

“For me, the most enduring lesson of the Wisconsin Experience is that we are called upon to engage in an unrelenting search for truth and to commit ourselves to service,” Kopac says. “A world-class interdisciplinary education in the College of Letters & Science helped me to better understand the interconnectedness of the economic and social challenges we face.”

From his post-college Peace Corps tour in the Republic of Benin to his recent trip to study sustainable economies in Brazil and the Netherlands, Kopac has long infused a spirit of service into his career, life, and learning.

As a UW student, he was vice president of the Wisconsin Alumni Student Board, and he cofounded All-Campus Party, a week of alcohol-alternative campus events. As an alumnus, Kopac chairs the John W. Jung Memorial Scholarship Fund to honor the death of his close college friend and raise awareness about addiction.

“Student organizations gave me the opportunity to hone my leadership skills and explore real solutions to
the hard problems that matter,” he says. “Friendships that endure to this day continue to be a source
of inspiration and strength.”

Photo by Maria Davis

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