Friday, June 15, 2007

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Names Interim President and Chief Executive Officer, Begins Nationwide Search to Replace J. Dart

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Names Interim President and Chief Executive Officer, Begins Nationwide Search to Replace J. Dart

(June 13, 2007) Missoula, Montana — The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s Board of Directors announced today that it has named an interim president and chief executive officer to replace Peter J. Dart, who resigned from the wildlife conservation organization last week.

The board named Walker S. “Buddy” Smith, Jr. to serve as interim president and chief executive officer of the Missoula-based organization. Smith, of Great Falls, Montana and Midlothian, Virginia, completed a two-year term as Chairman of the Board of the Elk Foundation in February. He has been a member of the organization since 1984.

In addition, the board named Rod Triepke, who is currently serving the organization as Vice President of Administration and Chief Information Officer, as interim Chief Operations Officer. Smith and Triepke will be responsible for managing day-to-day operations of the foundation and will begin their new responsibilities after June 15. A nationwide search has already begun to find a replacement for Dart who served as president and chief executive officer for four years.

Smith is a long-time Elk Foundation volunteer, board member and leader. He played a key role in helping the organization re-establish elk in their native habitat in eastern states. He is an Elk Foundation Life Member, a Benefactor Habitat Partner, serves on the Habitat Council, served as Habitat Council Chair 2000-2002, and is a member of the Elk Foundation’s Trails Society. Smith also was the recipient in 2000 of the Elk Foundation’s Chairman’s Award.

Triepke, an Elk Foundation employee since 1993, holds an undergraduate degree in Computer Science and holds a Master’s of Business Administration degree. A native of Montana, he has served as the organization’s treasurer since 2004. Triepke is a lifelong hunter, angler and conservationist.

“The Board of Directors and the Executive Team at the Elk Foundation will move as quickly as possible to identify the best possible candidates for the President and CEO position and the position of Chief Operations Officer,” said Andy Hoxsey, Chairman of the Board. “The Elk Foundation is a large organization with 150,000 members and 10,000 active volunteers. We are searching for a leader with the ability to build on our 23 years of conservation successes and who will inspire employees, members and volunteers.”

Hoxsey acknowledged Dart’s accomplishments during his four years at the helm of the organization. During the past four years, the Elk Foundation permanently protected 136,000 acres, enhanced an additional 1 million acres and funded more than 1,800 projects. At the same time, the organization grew net assets from nearly $37 million to more than $51 million, ran a capital campaign to build a first-class headquarters and an outstanding Elk Country Visitor Center in Missoula, and signed a deal to create an eastern version of the visitor center in Pennsylvania.

“The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has become well known throughout the nation,” Hoxsey said. “We have emerged as a recognized leader among conservation groups working to conserve habitat. As we approach our 25th anniversary, we are well-positioned to extend our reach to greater accomplishments in the future.”

Dart announced last week that he was leaving the Elk Foundation to pursue personal opportunities and spend more time with his family. He joined the organization in May 2003, after serving as executive director of Safari Club International and the SCI Foundation.

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

Founded in 1984 and headquartered in Missoula, Mont., the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife and their habitat. The Elk Foundation and its partners have permanently protected or enhanced more than 5 million acres, a land area more than twice as large as Yellowstone National Park. Nearly 500,000 acres previously closed to public access are now open for hunting, fishing and other recreation. The Elk Foundation has more than 150,000 members, a staff of 150 and 10,000 active volunteers. To help protect wild elk country or learn more about the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, visit or call 800-CALL-ELK.