“Boomerang” Spotlight: Phil Sletten

Name:

Phil Sletten

Current City/Town:

Henniker

Native City/Town:

Bow

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am a proud New Hampshirite who wants to work to improve public policy for everyone in this state by helping to inform our policymakers and the public. I work for the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute, where I research budget and revenue policy, the economy and the financial well-being of the state’s residents, and health policy. I also volunteer as the Chair of the Board of Directors for Community Bridges, and previously served on the Concord Young Professionals Network Steering Committee. I lived in Concord for five years before being lucky enough to buy an old farmhouse in Henniker, which will provide me with an endless supply of homeowner projects for years to come.

Why did you leave New Hampshire?

My extended family is from the Midwest, and I always was interested in spending more time there. I wanted to experience a different culture and meet people from a wider variety of backgrounds. I also wanted to go to a small college in a rural setting, away from a city and with a self-contained campus separated from the host community. The Midwest offered quite a few options, and I decided to go Grinnell College, located in rural east-central Iowa. I have yet to find an undergraduate school I would have rather attended. For graduate school, I attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison, about five hours up the road and in a much bigger city, but offering fantastic educational opportunities as well as a very high quality of life.

What did you miss most about New Hampshire?

While family is always paramount, the New Hampshire-specific feature I missed most was the mountains. The Midwest is a wonderful place, and the Rocky Mountains are gorgeous to visit, but hiking in the White Mountains is a unique feeling for me that rings of home like few others.

Why did you choose to “boomerang” back to the Granite State?

While away from home in school, I remained staunchly and verbally proud of my home state. I returned home almost every summer to enjoy the mountains and work for local organizations I grew up knowing, including New Hampshire Audubon and New Hampshire Public Radio. In graduate school, I saw many of my classmates graduate and go immediately to work as analysts in Wisconsin state government. New Hampshire did not have this sort of pipeline of policy analysts into government (this was prior to the creation of the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire), and I wanted to do my part with my newly-acquired education to help make public policy better in my home state. As such, I very intentionally decided to move back to New Hampshire. Shortly after returning, I was both very happy and lucky to be hired by the State Legislature’s Office of Legislative Budget Assistant, providing analysis to policymakers on a wide range of state agency operations.

In your travels, what were some cool or unique things you came across that you wish were in New Hampshire?

Having traveled above the Arctic Circle in the summertime, I am somewhat envious of the amount of daylight June and July bring to the extreme northern parts of the Northern Hemisphere. I wish New Hampshire had a little more of that. However, if the tradeoff is a more substantial lack of daylight in the winter (which it would be), then New Hampshire’s balance suits me just fine.

Tell us some of your favorite places in the state or your region? i.e. restaurants, recreational or cultural activities, etc.

My favorite places in New Hampshire are the summits of the 4,000 footers, particularly Bondcliff. I am also fond of the small villages tucked away in the state’s mountainous terrain, such as Ferncroft and Wonalancet. Finally, the civic and historical significance of the State House is hard to overlook on my list of favorite places, given both my interests and work.

What do you believe to be the “New Hampshire” advantage?

Both New Hampshire’s geography and quality of life constitute its advantage. With beautiful lakes, mountains, and even a little bit of ocean coastline all within a short drive, and a world-class cosmopolitan city just beyond its southern border, New Hampshire is fortunate to have found itself at the geographic intersection of many desirable attributes. The scenic and rural nature of much of the state, the relatively clean environment, and the sense of community one can find in many of our towns and cities add up to New Hampshire having one of the highest standards for quality of life in the country.
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