20 Under 40: Mark Fruehauf
Mark Fruehauf, 34, Superior
What do you do?
I am the district attorney for Douglas County, Wisconsin.
I graduated from Superior High School in 2002. I received my Bachelor of Science from the University of Wisconsin in 2006, double majoring in political science and history. I graduated from Hamline University School of Law in 2009 with my Juris Doctor.
I coach mock trial for both Superior High School and the University of Wisconsin-Superior. I am a member of the advisory board for Mentor Superior. I have been a member of the Superior Jaycees. I was an ambassador for the Real Men Wear Pink American Cancer Society fundraising drive in 2017.
Tell us about your loved ones
I have been married to my wife, Julie, since 2013. She works at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in Superior as an academic support teaching assistant. My mom and dad live in Superior; my mom is retired after working for the St. Louis County Attorney's Office for more than 30 years. My dad is a social worker for St. Louis County. My younger sister is a pharmacist in Duluth. My younger brother works as an associate project manager for a digital company in the Twin Cities.
What do you do in your free time?
I love Wisconsin sports, so I watch a lot of Packers, Badgers and Brewers. My wife and I like to go see live music. I like to read. Every now and then I'll get out for some kayaking, a bike ride, or a good game of racquetball.
Tell us about an influential person in your life
Ruth Kressel, who is currently an assistant prosecutor in Ashland County, joined the Douglas County DA's office a few months after I started there as an assistant prosecutor in 2010. She had more than two decades of experience and was instrumental in helping me grow. She embodied the fairness, toughness and professionalism that a prosecutor should have. I would not be the prosecutor I am today without her influence.
What's the best decision you've ever made?
Marrying my wife, Julie. My life would be completely different if we would never have met. She has challenged me and pushed me to always expand my horizons and try new things.
What is your biggest accomplishment?
Successfully running for office and getting elected district attorney. I would have thought you were out of your mind if you would have told me three years ago that I was going to get involved in a contested election for public office.
What keeps you in the Twin Ports?
This has always been home to me. I was born here. I have roots here, having grandparents and parents who have contributed to this county. My family lives here. Many of my friends live here. I have always wanted a job that involves decisions of importance and consequence. I've worked for some great people and places before, but I have never felt more like I am exactly where I am supposed to be than with the job I have now.
Describe your happy place
Enjoying a celebratory drink with friends after a jury trial win.
What’s your five-year plan?
I want to be able to look back at this time in my life and recognize how much I have grown (and continue to grow) as a person and as a professional. Just five years ago I was starting a new journey, jumping from assistant prosecutor to private practice. Looking back at the person I was then, I can see how much I've changed personally, how my prosecuting style has been refined, and how my understanding of the law has developed.
What words of wisdom do you have for young adults?
If you have a dream or a goal that will require hard work to achieve and may result in failure, do it anyway. Do not hesitate; do it. Running for office took me out of my comfort zone in a big way and in the months that led up to my deciding whether to run, I stressed out and tossed and turned at night wondering what I should do. I had a good job at the time working in private practice, and it would have been easy to take the path of least resistance and stay out of the public spotlight. But I would have regretted it for the rest of my life and always wondered what would have been if I had just decided to take the plunge. Making decisions like that change who you are and make you a better, stronger person. Even if you fail to achieve the goal you want, you gain the character to get up off the mat and tackle the next challenge.