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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.
Early life, education and career
Zeller grew up in Rochester, New York and attended Allendale Columbia School in Pittsford. 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.
Zeller decided to return to New York to run for office upon hearing news that Eric Massa was retiring. However, after his unsuccessful campaign, Zeller returned to Washington DC, citing a lack of job opportunities.
2010 U.S. Congressional campaign
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.
Zeller is a former Republican who supported the first Presidential campaign of John McCain in 2000. 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. He speaks favorably of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and opposes privatization of Social Security, and he supports the Employee Free Choice Act. Environmentally, he opposes drilling in the Marcellus Formation. He also favored repealing don’t ask, don’t tell. He is supportive of the current operations in Afghanistan, and he supports the creation of a Palestinian State.
In 2012, Zeller was named an Adjunct Fellow of the American Security Project  and a Fellow of the Truman National Security Project. Throughout 2012 and 2013 he spoke about his experiences in Afghanistan and his run for Congress at colleges and universities around the nation.
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. Shinwari's visa request was granted in September 2013. 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.
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.
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.
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