Once a Viking, Always a Viking

Matt Petersen ’91
Matt Petersen ’91 began Campbell Hall as a 9th grade student. During high school, he was an avid tennis and soccer player, serving as captain of each team his senior year. Some of his most treasured memories are of the experiential education trips to Joshua Tree and whitewater rafting down the Colorado River with his class. He attended school dances, loved showing his Viking spirit at basketball games and Homecomings, and was on the staff of the yearbook. With a small graduating class of only 47, the class of ‘91 was a tight-knit group in which everyone knew and supported each other. Campbell Hall was like a second home to him.

He also formed deep connections with some of the faculty, including English teacher Nancy Booth. In fact, Matt credits her with helping him through some of his difficult teenage years. “There is no way I would be in this place of my life if it wasn’t for Nancy Booth,” he noted. “Outside of my family, she was the single most important person in my life.” Matt explained that Mrs. Booth gave him additional writing assignments that allowed him to be self-reflective. The two even corresponded for years after Matt graduated. Mrs. Booth encouraged him to keep a journal throughout college which she also expressed interest in reading. “I was used to coaches helping drive me to personal achievement, but that was usually performance-related,” explained Matt. “Mrs. Booth really wanted to get involved with me as a person and try to help me see how I could unlock my potential. She was really supportive in that.”

When Matt was 23, his mom died unexpectedly, leaving his family reeling from the tragic loss. Having graduated CH just a few years before and a student at Boston College, it was a time when he and his five siblings needed extra support. “Campbell Hall went so far beyond what they needed to do and my family is eternally grateful for it,” said Matt. The funeral for his mother was held at Campbell Hall and, when it was clear that this loss had left the family in some financial hardship, a complete financial aid package was offered to two of Matt’s younger siblings. “The extra care that the school provided was incredible.”

Matt, who has held a number of key corporate leadership positions including his current role as CEO of OPTE, an innovative skincare device company, and his former position as CEO of Neato Robotics, credits Campbell Hall with helping prepare him for success. “Understanding people, working well with others, being a good communicator, being empathetic and caring, are all part of Campbell Hall’s core values and what the school’s approach is all about,” Matt said. Along with his alma mater Boston College, he noted that Campbell Hall taught him how to think and how to work with people which propelled him into “academy companies” such as Disney, Pepsico, and Mattel where he continued to grow and learn.

When he served on the Board of L.A.’s Best, he was instrumental in facilitating public partnership programs with independent schools, including with Campbell Hall. Today, one of the CH’s signature public partnership programs, Action! Film and TV Summer Workshop for Kids continues to bring together 40 rising 5th and 6th graders, 20 from Campbell Hall and 20 from LA’s BEST for this free 2-week summer program.

Just as it was when Matt was a student and as it is for all alumni, Campbell Hall will always be a second home. Some of Matt’s best friends to this day are fellow CH alumni, his ties to the school remain strong, and he still thinks fondly of that strong support network that gave him comfort and support during times when he needed it most.
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Campbell Hall is an independent, Episcopal, K-12 all gender day school. We are a community of inquiry committed to academic excellence and to the nurturing of decent, loving, and responsible human beings.

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