Howard Vincent, Pheasants Forever CEO since 2000, announces retirement plans

By Rob Drieslein
Managing Editor
Vincent

Howard Vincent

Photo courtesy of Pheasants Forever

St. Paul-based Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever announced today that President and CEO Howard Vincent will retire from the leadership post early next year. He is expected to formally pass the baton at the organization’s annual Pheasant Fest, which will take place in Minneapolis, Feb. 17-19, 2023.

One of the most respected leaders in the conservation business, Vincent began volunteering for PF in 1984 when the group was just a couple of years old. The Duluth native became a full-time employee of the organization in 1987 as its director of finance, before taking the reins as CEO in 2000.

In its 40-year history, nonprofit PF has had just two presidents, Jeff Finden and Vincent.

“I’m extremely proud of the team we have in place to deliver this organization’s habitat mission,” Vincent said via a press release. “We produced more acres of habitat and generated more dollars for conservation in 2021 than any other year in our history, and we’re going to break those records in 2022. That’s a credit to every one of our employees, our national board of directors, this organization’s dedicated volunteers, and our many partners. It’s now time to prepare for the next chapter. ”

Effective today, the organization is launching a nationwide search to fill the job via the Minneapolis-based Cohen Taylor Executive Search firm.

PF Director of Marketing and Public Relations Bob St. Pierre said this morning that Vincent informed the organization’s board chair, Matt Kucharski, of his intentions to retire earlier this year. The group expects to interview interested internal employees as well as candidates from around the nation.

“We consider ourselves one of preeminent conservation organizations in the country, and we want to hire the best of the best,” St. Pierre said. 

Interviews likely will commence this summer with a hiring occurring this fall, then the new CEO will “job shadow” Vincent for several months leading up to Pheasant Fest, St. Pierre said.

Those potential candidates will not include St. Pierre, who also has been with Pheasants Forever for more than two decades, and in his PR role has been front and center in many of the organization’s decisions. St. Pierre said he is happy in his current role and will not be applying for the CEO post. 

“My name is not going to be in the mix. I feel like I am in right seat on the bus. The role I have suits my talent and experience, so I am here to help the transition with whoever takes the baton,” St. Pierre said. “I would run through a wall for Howard, and it’s been my honor and privilege to work for him.”

St. Pierre noted that the president role has a demanding travel schedule, and “being CEO would prevent me from doing the things I love.” Because of his love of working his dogs out-of-doors around the region, his broadcasting commitments with KFAN Radio, plus his writing and podcasting for PF, St. Pierre said he wants to stay in his existing job.

It’s no secret that Vincent has been planning his retirement transition for several years. Working with the board, he has reorganized the group’s executive leadership team in recent years.

“Whoever is taking over this job is gonna be sitting in a healthy, vibrant seat with great people around her or him,” St. Pierre said.

“In addition to being the primary face of Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever, Howard has built an amazing team and established collaborative, meaningful partnerships with other like-minded organizations and individuals in conservation,” Kucharski said. “He will be leaving the organization in a tremendous place, and we appreciate his collaboration during the transition.”

The organization, which includes both Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever, has more than 400 employees and 400,000 members, supporters, and partners.  In its history, “The Habitat Organization” has been responsible for delivering more than 22 million acres of habitat.

PF said that inquiries about the position should be directed to Katie Erickson at Cohen Taylor via email at katie@cohentaylor.com.

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