Conrad Masterson | Citizens Against Government Waste

Conrad Masterson

Long-standing CAGW President's Club Member and Modern Day Frontiersman

12/10/07

The unofficial anthem of the American West with its melodious chorus, “Home, home on the range,” provides a fitting refrain for CAGW President’s Club member Conrad Masterson’s life.  Conrad says he “would have been a cowboy” if he had been born 60 years earlier.  Today, he is building his retirement home on a 400-acre ranch near Dallas, Texas.  However, throughout his career, Conrad has always roamed on the intellectual frontiers, blazing new trails in cutting-edge technologies.          

A serial entrepreneur, Conrad boasts 30 years of experience in technology development, strategic planning, and financial management.  He has led or helped launch six early-stage technology companies, two of which became publicly traded.  He also helped found both the Houston and Fort Worth technology incubators, which provide infrastructure, services, and support for start-up technology companies, and sits on the board of the Gulf Coast Regional Center for Innovation and Commercialization.

Conrad currently serves as president of the Texas Nanotechnology Foundation, which he founded to support Texas universities’ research into nanotechnology, the science of manipulating materials on a molecular level.  Conrad says that he “saw this as an area traditionally dominated by the federal government where an individual could make a difference.”  He contends that nanotechnology holds great promise for transforming our world from manufacturing, healthcare, energy, and communications to the economic and societal structures that underpin them.  For example, a carbon nanotube is the strongest substance known to man and can act as a superconductor or semiconductor depending on its molecular construction.  A material like gold also has fascinating properties on the nanoscale, such as behaving as a catalyst to make reactions quicker, better, and more precise.  Conrad believes that nanomaterials will follow a similar, though much faster, developmental track as plastics, which we take for granted today.

Born in Oklahoma City in 1943, Conrad holds a bachelor of science in mathematics and physics and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Oklahoma.  He lives with his wife of 20 years, Ellen, a partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Browser, a 6-year-old chocolate Labrador Retriever.  Conrad has three sons from a prior marriage.  His eldest, a pool contractor, lives in Tucson, Arizona and has three children.  His middle son works in construction supply and resides in Montrose, Colorado with his wife and two children, while his youngest is a consultant who is studying for his master of arts in organizational development at American University in Washington, D.C. 

Conrad is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys working with horses and cattle.  Beyond science and technology, his great passion is fly fishing, so much so that he gave his wife a set of waders on their first Christmas together! 

Asked what he regards as the major problems facing our country, Conrad describes with the bluntness of a Texan, a government that “is not being run effectively.  The people in charge are not managing the process right, or correctly, or efficiently, or spending our money wisely, even for good programs.”  A member of the Republican Party and fan of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and the “Contract with America,” Conrad complains that the party’s leadership today has betrayed its rank-and-file:  “To a large extent, Republicans several years ago forgot their roots and core values.  It will take a number of years to recover the lost confidence.  I see little hope for the Republican Party in the next round of elections.” 

In addition to supporting CAGW as a member since 1991, Conrad lends his support to some political groups and candidates.  A former deacon at his local Baptist church, Conrad also donates to Christian nonprofits, such as the Salvation Army, Red Cross, and missionaries around the world.  His involvement with his alma mater, the University of Oklahoma, earned him a Regents’ Award.  Musing on the motives behind his philanthropy, Conrad comments, “God’s been good to me.  I’ve had a great life and been blessed to pursue a career that was almost like a hobby.  I have an obligation because of the great wealth God’s given me to share it with other people.”

Asked about his commitment to CAGW in particular, Conrad states, CAGW is “one of the few organizations that provide a safety net for the population.  Our elected representatives are out-of-control.  Even the best of them are crazy sometimes, and the worst of them are crazy all of the time!  Someone like CAGW has to hold them accountable, because voters don’t track well on their own.”  Conrad concludes that CAGW serves a critical role in Washington, keeping taxpayers focused on “the real situation.” 

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