Matthew Zeller

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Matt Zeller
Matt Zeller Headshot.jpg
Democratic nominee for
U.S. House of Representatives from New Yorks's 29th district
Election date
November 2, 2010
Opponent(s) Tom Reed (R)
Incumbent Eric Massa (D)
Personal details
Born Rochester, New York
Political party Democratic
Residence Chantilly, Virginia
Alma mater Hamilton College (B.A., 2004),
Maxwell School of Syracuse University (MPA, 2006
Maxwell School of Syracuse University (MA-IR, 2006)
Occupation No One Left Behind[1]
Awards Purple Heart ribbon.svg Purple Heart
Army Commendation Medal ribbon.svg Army Commendation Medal
Afghanistan Campaign Medal ribbon.svg Afghanistan Campaign Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal ribbon.svg Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
U.S. Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal ribbon.svg Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal
Armed Forces Reserve Medal ribbon.svg Armed Forces Reserve Medal with "M" device
Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal ribbon.svg Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal
National Defense Service Medal ribbon.svg National Defense Service Medal
Army Overseas Service Ribbon.svg Army Overseas Service Ribbon
Army Service Ribbon.svg Army Service Ribbon
NATO Medal ribbon (Non-Article 5).svg NATO Non-Article 5 medal with "ISAF" device
Combat Action Badge.svg Combat Action Badge
German Armed Forces Badge for Military Proficiency.jpg German Armed Forces Badge for Military Proficiency Gold
Website Zeller for Congress
Watches Without Time
Military service
Service/branch United States Army seal United States Army
Rank US-O3 insignia.svg Captain

Matthew C. "Matt" Zeller, a native of Rochester, New York, is an author, former Congressional candidate, political consultant, and currently serves as the CEO of No One Left Behind. He is a United States Army veteran of the Afghan War and he ran for Congress in 2010 as the Democratic nominee for New York's 29th congressional district.[2]

Early life, education and career[edit]

Zeller grew up in Rochester, New York and attended Allendale Columbia School in Pittsford.[3] He is a 2004 Magna Cum Laude graduate of Hamilton College with a major in government. In 2005, he graduated first in his class from the Army's Military Intelligence Officer's basic course. He earned master's degrees in public administration and international relations from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University in 2006. He is also a graduate of the Army's Combat Advisor's course. He was deployed to Afghanistan in April, 2008 where he served at the Ghazni Forward Operating Base as the unit's Intelligence Officer, Operations Officer, Air Logistics Officer, and head of all humanitarian aid and assistance missions.

Upon Zeller's return from Afghanistan, he returned to work as an officer of the CIA.[4]

Zeller decided to return to New York to run for office upon hearing news that Eric Massa was retiring.[5] However, after his unsuccessful campaign, Zeller returned to Washington DC, citing a lack of job opportunities.[6]

2010 U.S. Congressional campaign[edit]

Zeller ran in the 2010 special election to fill Eric Massa's seat in the 29th Congressional District of New York. He lost to Republican, Conservative and Independence Party nominee Tom Reed.

Political positions[edit]

Zeller is a former Republican who supported the first Presidential campaign of John McCain in 2000.[7] He describes himself as pro-choice and believes that abortions should be safe, legal, and rare. He has not indicated how he would have voted on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and has not taken a stand on the individual mandate, but he is against repealing the legislation.[8] He speaks favorably of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and opposes privatization of Social Security,[9] and he supports the Employee Free Choice Act.[10] Environmentally, he opposes drilling in the Marcellus Formation.[11] He also favored repealing don’t ask, don’t tell.[12] He is supportive of the current operations in Afghanistan, and he supports the creation of a Palestinian State.[5]

Post-2010 Election[edit]

In 2012, Zeller was named an Adjunct Fellow of the American Security Project [13] and a Fellow of the Truman National Security Project.[14] Throughout 2012 and 2013 he spoke about his experiences in Afghanistan and his run for Congress at colleges and universities around the nation.

His writings have appeared in the Christian Science Monitor,[15] Roll Call,[16] and the Huffington Post.[17]

MSNBC,[18] Fox News,[19] Al Jazeera,[20] and HuffPost Live[21] routinely invite him to appear on-air as a national security expert and political consultant.

Zeller was instrumental in rallying public support to pressure the US Embassy in Kabul to grant a US visa to his former interpreter in Kabul, Janis Shinwari, as part of the Afghan Allies Protection Act.[22] Shinwari's visa request was granted in September 2013.[23] Shortly thereafter Zeller started No One Left Behind, an organization that advocates for the continuation and expansion of the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program for Afghan and Iraqi interpreters, and provides financial, material, and career assistant to individuals and families who have moved to the United States under the SIV program.[24]


In 2006, the United States House of Representatives asked Zeller and several of his Maxwell School colleagues to evaluate the United States' Pandemic Influenza Response Plan. Zeller and his colleagues subsequently authored "Are We Ready? A Practical Examination of the Strategic National Stockpile in Response to Public Health Crises". Congress enacted many of the report's recommendations in 2007.[25]

In 2012, Zeller authored Watches Without Time, an account of his experiences training for and serving in Afghanistan as an embedded combat adviser to the Afghan National Security Forces. The book originated from a series of email messages he sent to his family and friends back home about his experiences in the military, and it focuses on aspects of military life which are often overlooked or not discussed, like his inadequate training.


  1. ^
  2. ^ Kraushaar, Josh. "Dems tap candidate for Massa seat." Politico
  3. ^ "Allendale Columbia | Our Alumni are Doing Great Things". Retrieved 2016-05-13. 
  4. ^ With his hat in the ring, Zeller showing the man under the brim. Archived 2011-07-10 at the Wayback Machine. The Evening Tribune. (Hornell, NY). Retrieved 2010-05-09.
  5. ^ a b Miller, Rick (2010-06-09). Visit home compelled Zeller to run. Olean Times Herald. Retrieved 2010-06-09.
  6. ^ Poole, Andrew (March 7, 2012). Zeller not ruling out another run at Congressional seat Archived 2012-07-29 at Hornell Evening Tribune. Retrieved March 7, 2012.
  7. ^ Terreri, Jill (2010-04-07). Democrats pick Rochester native Zeller to run for Massa's seat. Gannett. Retrieved 2010-04-19.
  8. ^ Terreri, Jill (2010-04-27). 29th District candidate Zeller cites family roots in Southern Tier. Gannett. Retrieved 2010-05-03.
  9. ^ "News - Zeller opposes privatizing Social Security". Olean Times Herald. Retrieved 2010-08-23. 
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-09-06. Retrieved 2012-03-21. 
  11. ^ Recotta, Bob (2010-04-28). From soldier to politician: Democratic candidate Zeller talks to The Leader Archived 2010-10-01 at the Wayback Machine.. The Leader (Corning, NY). Retrieved 2010-05-03.
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  17. ^ Zeller, Matt. "Matt Zeller". Huffington Post. 
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Is Afghanistan ready to handle its own security?". Fox News. 2012-06-25. 
  20. ^
  21. ^ "HuffPost Live". Huffington Post. 
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External links[edit]