Alex Muromcew’s life in Jackson blends elements of a long career in international finance and a new involvement in politics.
He’s an investor in and a coach to startup businesses. He’s a former interim executive director of Silicon Couloir, a nonprofit that nurtures entrepreneurship in the region, and was just elected chairman of its board.
He has served on the Jackson Hole Land Trust Open Space Council and is a Teton County planning commissioner as well as chairman of the Teton County GOP.
“He’s engaged in the community,” said former County Commissioner Paul Vogelheim, his predecessor as leader of the county Republicans.
Muromcew’s work with entrepreneurs draws on a Master of Business Administration and his 30-some years in international finance.
“My involvement with startups is a continuation of my investment background and what I learned at business school,” Muromcew said. “Politics is very different and something I couldn’t have imagined I’d get involved in, yet here I am.”
He’s worked as an analyst and portfolio manager, most recently at TIAA-CREF, where he launched an emerging markets fund.
The enjoyable part of that kind of career, he said, is “you get to learn a lot about all kinds of different industries — in my case, foreign countries. Every day there’s a piece of news that can affect your investment. It’s very stimulating.”
“Some days you’re smarter than the market,” he said. “Other days the market is smarter than you.”
Entrepreneurs appreciate being able to tap Muromcew’s expertise.
As a mentor and venture investor he “actively supports me and connects me to resources and people he knows may be able to help us,” said Susan Pieper, founder of DMOS Collective, maker of a line of rugged shovels. “His broad network of relationships as well as domain knowledge of the value creation process in a startup makes him invaluable to us and anyone who is lucky enough to count him as a mentor/investor.”
Eric Green, founder of Blaze Controller and the Dust Cutter beverage line, described Muromcew as a great mentor whose advice has been invaluable.
“He is always available for a quick call or a major strategy session because he is really rooting for the entrepreneur and wants us to succeed,” Green said.
Though Muromcew’s political activity, which includes a bid in 2018 for the District 23 seat in Wyoming’s House of Representatives, is the new part of his resume, he actually grew up in the heart of American politics, Washington, D.C.
He was an only child. His mother worked on Capitol Hill before leaving to focus on raising her son and volunteering for nonprofit boards. His father, who was born near Bialystock, Poland, was a Foreign Service officer, working as an interpreter in Russian, Polish and German.
“I was fascinated with the stock market from an early age,” Muromcew said, “which is maybe a little odd because I come from a family of academics.
“In 11th grade in my economics class I wrote a paper about how to invest $100,000. The teacher wrote, ‘Alex, I think you have found your calling.’”
He was also fascinated with Japan, a growing economic power that wasn’t much understood by Americans. At Dartmouth College he majored in Asian studies and went on to work for a Japanese company and then a British investment bank in Japan. Next came the MBA from Stanford University.
“It was more oriented toward the Pacific and Asia,” he said his choice of the California school. “East Coast schools were more focused on Europe.”
Muromcew’s connection to Jackson Hole started with a job at Boston hedge fund called Teton Partners, so named because one of the partners had a home here.
“I was an analyst,” he said. “I recommended stocks to them. We were early investors in India and Pakistan. ... We made a lot of money in those two markets.”
Muromcew starting coming out to Jackson to ski, staying in his boss’s house. He and his wife, Joohee, whom he’d met through work, built a house here and decided to move from San Francisco, thinking to stay a winter or a year. TIAA, his employer at the time, was OK with people working remotely.
“Ten years later we are still here,” he said. “Our kids were doing so much better at the Journeys School than they were at the public school in Marin that we decided to stay.”
Alex, 19, is a freshman at Colby College in Maine. Triplets Nikita, Mary and Natasha, age 16, are in Massachusetts, attending prep school at Phillips Academy Andover. It was their choice to go to boarding school.
“I think they just wanted a bigger pond,” their dad said.
Based on Muromcew’s family tree, it wasn’t a given he would grow up to be a Republican, though his gender was a hint.
“I grew up in a family where the men were traditionally Republican and the women were traditionally Democrat,” he said.
“I would call myself a traditional, moderate Republican with an emphasis on small government, fiscal responsibility, strong national defense and foreign policy and a belief in free markets.”
As chairman of the Teton County GOP his tasks are to energize and organize local Republicans and recruit candidates to run in the 2020 elections.
The Jackson mayorship, two Town Council seats and two county commissioner seats will be voted on, he said, and state Reps. Mike Yin, Andy Schwartz and Jim Roscoe will be up for reelection.
Persuading people to become candidates for public office can be challenging. He himself had to be worked on a bit before he agreed to run against Schwartz, a Democrat, for Wyoming House District 23.
“Paul Vogelheim probably asked me 10 times before I ran for office,” he said.
Campaigning was fun, he said, but “I never realized how much hard work there is. I have new respect for any elected official, particularly at the state and federal level.”
Will the drama at the national level encroach on Teton County’s next election season?
“I think it will,” Muromcew said. “I would love to run purely on local and state issues, with a real emphasis on the candidates and their personalities and issues. But it’s inevitable that what’s happening on the national level will affect local politics.”
The antidote, he said, will be to line up strong candidates and focus on local issues.
“Politics here are still very civil,” he said. “We’re still a close community, and you still bump into people wherever you go. I like to think that make us better behaved in the political arena.”