I began my professional career in private law practice in North Carolina and practiced law for 17 years. I took what I thought would be a short break from my law practice in the early 2000s (turned out to be nearly 4 years) and managed a fly fishing oriented guest ranch near West Yellowstone. I eventually returned to the practice of law, and about 10 years ago transitioned to nonprofit conservation work in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia. I have served as Executive Director of two organizations and as General Counsel/Land Acquisition Director for another. I have been the Executive Director of Mountain Conservation Trust of Georgia for the past five years. I fished the Madison River for the first time in the early 1990s, and have traveled to that area of Montana every year since then. My wife and I currently spend part an extended part of the summer in the region each year. I am an avid angler, a certified casting instructor since 1995, and have taught fly fishing and fly tying classes.
Why do you want to be on the Board of Directors for the Madison River Foundation?
The Madison River is a unique resource. An unbelievably productive fishery that could be "loved to death" by recreational pressure. I believe it is crucial that there be a credible voice for the river that advocates on its behalf to ensure that the resource is protected and that future generations can responsibly enjoy the river.
What makes our mission meaningful to you?
By striving to be the voice for the river as described above. Also, other program work like the Three Dollar Bridge restoration project.
What experience would you bring to the MRF board?
I have significant legal and nonprofit management experience in the conservation realm. The nonprofits that I have worked for are similar in size to the Foundation and I have been primarily responsible for all the program work, fundraising, outreach, Board development, grant administration, etc. In short, I understand very well the challenges that small organizations face to be sustainable and do valuable program work with limited capacity. I am also an avid angler who appreciates the public fishing opportunities on the Madison, and I have experience from the business side having worked for a business that depended on the river financially.
What interests you about our organization? Which aspect of our organization interests you most?
I enjoy working with small, grassroots nonprofits that have important conservation-related missions. My appreciation of the Madison River drew me to MRF and its role as an advocate for the river.
What is your favorite project the foundation has worked on and why?
The Three Dollar Bridge restoration and MRF's leadership in the current rule making process. The Three Dollar Bridge access is one of my favorite spots a tremendous public asset. The rule making process is critical in trying to determine how the river is being used from a recreational standpoint, what uses the river can sustain long-term, and how the competing interests might be accommodated while protecting the resource for the future.
Do you support Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks recommendations for the Madison River Recreation Plan? Why or why not?
Yes. I believe the recommendations are thoughtful first steps to identify the issues, obtain quantitative data about the resource and usage, and begin the necessary conversation about the future of the river.
Do you support walk-in wade only sections on the Madison River? Why or why not?
Yes, the wade only sections provide a unique angling experience for the public. I wish there were more wade only sections on other rivers in the region.
Do you believe that the fishery will be impacted by overuse?
I don't know the answer, but I am concerned about it and that is why I have supported MRF in the hope that impacts to the river can be identified and addressed. There is no doubt that river traffic had increased dramatically over the years. However, in my experience, the river is also remarkably resilient and the fishing is still very good. How long can that last? Is it irresponsible to assume that the resource will not suffer from sustained, or increased, pressure?
How important is advocacy on local, state, and federal policies to you?
It is very important, but also a "tightrope" that most conservation nonprofits must navigate. It is difficult to advocate for a position and not run the risk of losing some support.
What experience do you have with fundraising?
I have been responsible for all fundraising as Executive Director of two small nonprofits. Both are membership-based organizations like MRF, and I handled all fundraising solicitations and communications and have organized numerous fundraising events. I also have experience applying for and administering grants, both for operating funds and project-specific grants. Most of these grants involved private foundations and government agencies. I served for four years on the Board of Great Smoky Mountains Association (cooperating/fundraising association akin to Yellowstone Forever) and served as Chair of its marketing /membership committee for three years.
How would you plan to increase fundraising for the Foundation as Board of Director?
Try to build support by contacting people I know and telling them about the work of MRF. Participate in outreach events as much as possible. I would also like to know more about the organization's current fundraising plan and capacities to see if I can come up with additional ideas.
How much time a month can you commit to meetings and serving the mission of the Foundation?
That will vary month to month, but generally 5-10 hours.