Matt Michels was born in Pierre and grew up in Vermillion. After graduating from Vermillion High School, Matt attended the University of South Dakota where he worked as an orderly and EMT, and earned a nursing degree in 1980. He continued to work as a nurse while he obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in health services administration in 1982 and his law degree in 1985, both from the University of South Dakota.
While Matt was in law school, he became interested in the prospect of serving his country, and applied and interviewed with the United States Navy Judge Advocate General's (JAG) Corp. He was commissioned a United States Naval Officer and has served on two temporary assignments, active duty in the Philippines and then transferred to Mayport, Florida. While in Mayport, he married his wife Karen Lindbloom of Pierre, and she worked as a registered nurse in Jacksonville, Florida.
Although Matt and Karen had the opportunity to make the Navy a career, they missed South Dakota, and felt a strong need to return to be close to family. In 1989 the Michels moved to Yankton where Karen worked as an OB nurse and Matt joined a law practice with Don Bierle, practicing health care and hospital law along with other aspects of legal services to individuals and nonprofit organizations. Prior to being elected Lt. Governor, Matt was partner in what is now Michels & Associates, Prof. LLC and served as General Counsel for Avera Health. Matt and Karen are blessed to have a son, Collin who is attending the University of South Dakota, majoring in biology (pre-med) and Spanish.
Matt has always had an intense desire to serve others. He was honored to represent District 18 as a member of the South Dakota House of Representatives for eight years from 1999 to 2006. While in the legislature, Matt served for two years as Speaker Pro Tempore and as Speaker of the House for four years. He was the first person to serve two terms as Speaker since the 1950s.
Matt was chosen to join the Republican ticket, as Dennis says, "using the only criteria anyone should consider: Who would I want to take over as governor if something happened to me? Matt Michels was the clear choice. I'm sure you will agree that Matt's personal, professional, and political background will make him a great Lieutenant Governor for South Dakota."
Dennis and Matt were elected as South Dakota’s 32nd Governor on November 2nd, 2010 and sworn in on January 8th, 2011.