Saturday, February 4th, 2023
Saturday, February 4th, 2023

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Marilyn Vetter to lead Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever

Marilyn Vetter, pictured here after a day of pheasant hunting, will serve as Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s next president and chief executive officer. (Contributed photo)

St. Paul, Minn. — Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s national board of directors on Monday announced the selection of Marilyn Vetter as the organization’s next president and chief executive officer.

Vetter has served as a member of the group’s national board since 2015, most recently as vice chair, and will succeed longtime president and CEO Howard Vincent upon his retirement later this year. 

“Marilyn rose to the top following a comprehensive nationwide search that attracted interest from an impressive and diverse slate of candidates,” said Matt Kucharski, chair of PF and QF’s board of directors. “She brings a unique set of skills, experiences, and vision and has a firm grasp of the organization’s strengths and future opportunities.

RELATED COMMENTARY: New Pheasants Forever CEO vows continued focus on habitat initiatives

“Her history as a dedicated volunteer, a lifelong bird-dog lover, and a wingshooter who is passionate about our habitat mission and long-term success will resonate with members, donors, conservation partners, and staff in pheasant and quail country.” 

Marilyn Vetter

Vetter’s professional background has been focused on strategic management, government affairs, marketing, and communications. She has served in leadership positions at Horizon Therapeutics, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, and Organon, Inc., and holds a communications degree from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. Her LinkedIn profile cites a three-year stint as a reporter and anchor at KFYR-TV in Bismarck after graduating from college.

Vetter was born and raised in a hunting and farming family in Anamoose, N.D. Her professional career brought her to the Chicago area for three years. She now calls New Richmond, Wis., home, where she and her husband of 35 years, Clyde, own and operate Sharp Shooter’s Kennel, which specializes in German short-haired pointers.

In addition to serving on PF & QF’s board of directors, she also served on the executive council of the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association for more than two decades and the board of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. 

“Working alongside the stellar employees, dedicated volunteers and chapter members, and committed partners and sponsors is an honor few leaders get to experience,” Vetter said in a release. “Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever are extraordinarily healthy organizations with a strong established vision. I’m eager to continue the critical work of the organization and am thrilled to be part of its dynamic future.”  

Vetter becomes the third CEO of the organization’s 40-year history. Jeff Finden served in the role from PF’s formation in 1982 until Vincent succeeded him in 2000.

The White Bear Lake-based organization, which includes both Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever, has more than 425 employees and 400,000 members, supporters, and partners. The group says it has been responsible for delivering more than 22 million acres of upland habitat benefiting pheasants, quail, and other wildlife.

During his tenure, Vincent became one of the most respected leaders in American conservation. In a release, Vincent said he has tremendous confidence that the group’s mission is in capable hands.

“I am thrilled with the board’s selection of Marilyn as our next CEO. Our volunteers, members, partners, and employees will find her to be a passionate conservationist, collaborative leader, and dynamic personality,” Vincent said.

Though Vetter starts Feb. 1, she will be shadowing Vincent in the job until June.

“Howard’s leadership has transformed Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever into the premier upland habitat organization in the country,” Vetter said. “His enthusiasm and commitment to the mission and to the organization’s employees and members is exemplary of his character. I am lucky to be able to learn from him these next few months before he departs for his well-earned retirement.”  

A longtime volunteer and board member for multiple organizations during her career, Vetter said she expects to divest herself of some of those responsibilities as she takes command of one of the nation’s leading conservation groups.

Bob St. Pierre, PF’s chief marketing and communications officer, said 150 people applied for the position. The board eventually interviewed 12 candidates, narrowed it to four finalists, with two making full presentations to the board.

Vetter will participate as the incoming CEO at the National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic 2023 in Minneapolis, Feb. 17-19. She is slated to talk with PF and QF chapter volunteers during a National Convention luncheon on Saturday, Feb. 18 and also will be participating on the National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic Main Stage at noon on Sunday, Feb. 19, for a “State of Conservation Panel” that will also include Vincent and the CEOs of the Ruffed Grouse Society, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, the Wildlife Management Institute, among others.

For more information on the event, visit www.PheasantFest.org.

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