There have been days when Nathan Franklin has looked up, sees where he’s at in life, and can only be amazed and filled with wonder.
“I always did a little bit better than people thought I could,” said Franklin, who works as a government relations representative with Dairyland Power Cooperative.
When he started out working as a director of operations in the northwestern part of the state, he didn’t know then his government work would lead him to a staff position in the Wisconsin’s Assembly, nor did he know he’d work for Gov. Jim Doyle. Coming from the Midwest, he said, specifically from a rural background on a dairy farm, Franklin was never averse to hard work.
“I was kind of used to life being exhausted and tough,” he said.
Still, he kept plugging along, and the exhaustion and tough work eventually led him to become what he called a “kind of organizational diplomat.” Franklin works on communication, public relations, governmental relations, education and advocacy for Dairyland Power.
“I cover a pretty broad swath of topics,” he said, almost as broad as Dairyland’s coverage area.
His work includes everything from the expansion of pollinator habitats to local chamber strategic planning. But, his real motivation came when he got married and helped raise his two children.
“It’s not about you anymore,” Franklin said of his realization. “It’s more than you now.”
But, Franklin’s always focused on others. His focus, he said, has been how to bring people of different backgrounds together on a specific issue.
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“The variety of experiences I’ve had helps me empathize with different viewpoints,” he said. “I grew up in the country, but have spent a lot of time living and working in great Wisconsin cities.”
Not long after moving to La Crosse, Franklin said, the neighborhood association movement was really taking off. He worked with others to launch the Holy Trinity-Longfellow Neighborhood Association on La Crosse’s South Side, and he also engaged heavily in the discussion to preserve branch libraries. Although Franklin and his family have since moved into a more rural area, he’s still dedicated to his work in the city, especially with the La Crosse Area Chamber of Commerce.
His boss, Brian Rude, noted Franklin’s many accomplishments when he nominated him for Rising Stars Under 40, which include his distinguished work on former Gov. Doyle’s staff, in the Wisconsin Assembly, his ability to build a bridge between those in Madison and Washington D.C., and his work in the greater La Crosse area, which itself chairing the Chamber’s government action committee. Franklin also chairs the Board of Customers First Coalition at the state level, which focuses on energy policy, as well as sits on the board of Trees for Tomorrow, among other advocacy work relating to transportation and renewable energy.
“He’s bright, hard-working, experienced,” Rude said. “And, he’s likely to be a force in the industry and community in the future.”
For Franklin, his accomplishments are a vital part of his own story, but it’s a story he couldn’t have written without the help of others.
“I just kept plugging along,” Franklin said, “and one day I looked and there I was. Two years ago, I was at the White House, taking part in energy policy discussions that included the president’s chief of staff and the secretary of energy. Literally the next day I was milking cows for my dad, so he could take a vacation.”
For Franklin, it reminded him how far he’d come, but also how important it is for him to stay connected to his roots.
“Both of those narratives are vital to who I am and who I always will be,” he said.