- Brent Manning | Senior Advisor
Brent Manning is Senior Advisor of the McGraw Center for Conservation Leadership and one of the nation’s most respected natural resources executives.
From 1991 to 2003, he was the top natural resources official in Illinois, first as director of the Department of Conservation and then as the first director of the Department of Natural Resources, a new umbrella department that merged Conservation with two state agencies and parts of two others.
He oversaw the acquisition of more than 100,000 acres for conservation, and worked with state and federal officials to convert thousands of acres at closed military bases to recreational use. He won legislative approval for programs and initiatives that generated millions of dollars for conservation efforts. He later served as director of Wyoming Game and Fish and executive director of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, Illinois.
Among his many honors: The Ducks Unlimited Wetland Conservation Award, Eastern Illinois University’s Distinguished Alumnus Award; the American Greenways DuPont Award, and the National Leadership Award from the National Association of State Outdoor Recreation Liaison Officers. He was named to the Illinois Outdoor Hall of Fame in 2005.
- John Cooper
John Cooper retired from his position as cabinet secretary of the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks in January, 2007, after 12 years of service as secretary under two governors.
From January 2007 until July, 2008 he served as Governor Mike Rounds’ senior policy advisor on Missouri River Issues, which also included serving as the first chairman of the Missouri River Association of States and Tribes. John also served as a senior policy advisor to the Bipartisan Policy Center on climate change and wildlife management issues from 2007 until his retirement in 2010.
Before his appointment as Game, Fish & Parks secretary in 1995, John served 22 years with the Law Enforcement Division of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. He was the senior resident agent for North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska, supervising six special agents who enforced federal, state and tribal wildlife laws.
In addition to his professional career, John served as field editor for Dakota Outdoors magazine. He has had feature articles published in Sports Afield, In-Fisherman, Western Outdoor News and Bassmaster magazine.
John served as president of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (2005-2006); chairman of the National Fish Habitat Initiative Board (2005-2007); and vice chairman of the North American Wetlands Conservation Council (1996-2006).
His professional awards include the 1982 and 2006 South Dakota Chapter of the Wildlife Society Wildlife Professional of the Year Award, the 1995 Guy Bradley Law Enforcement Professional Award, the 1991 and 2006 South Dakota Wildlife Federation Conservationist of the Year Award, the 1998 U.S. Forest Service Chief’s Award for Conservation Leadership, the 2006 Wildlife Professional of the Year Award from the Western Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies, the 2006 Ducks Unlimited Conservation Achievement Award, the Outdoor Life Conservation Award for 2006 and the 2008 Seth Gordon Award for Lifetime Excellence in Conservation from the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies. In 2009, John received the National Governors Association Award for Distinguished Service to State Government. In 2010, he received the George Bird Grinnell Memorial Award for Distinguished Lifetime Conservation Service from the Wildlife Management Institute. He currently serves as vice chair of the South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks Commission.
He enjoys fishing, camping, hunting and spending time with his wife and family (especially his four grandsons) and his black Lab, Maddie.
- Ken Haddad
Ken Haddad retired in 2009 as executive director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The commission is a Florida constitutional agency of more than 2,500 employees with responsibility for rule-making, management, enforcement and science relative to fish and wildlife resources statewide.
As executive director, Ken was responsible for wildlife management, fisheries management, game management, endangered and threatened species management, wildlife law enforcement and boating throughout Florida. He has served as a member of the state lands Acquisition and Restoration Council, was chairman of the Science Coordinating Group of the Everglades Restoration Task Force, was a member of the Executive Committee of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, and was president of the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.
He is a former commissioner of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and former council member of the South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council.
Ken is a board member of the Wildlife Foundation of Florida, a trustee of Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy Inc., and on the boards of Equine Land Conservation Resource, Florida Ocean Alliance and the Future of Hunting in Florida, Inc. He serves part-time as a marine advisor to the American Sportfishing Association, a trade association of tackle and related manufacturers, retailers and associated industries.
He holds a B.S. in biology from Presbyterian College and an M.S. in marine science from the University of South Florida. He is an avid outdoorsman focusing on fishing, hunting and mounted foxhunting.
- William F. “Bill” Hartwig
William F. “Bill” Hartwig is a senior advisor at Dawson & Associates. He served more than 33 years with the federal government, including 30 years within the Department of the Interior.
He served five years within the Office of the Secretary as staff director to the Federal Lands Planning Group and oversaw the annual expenditure of funds from the Land and Water Conservation Fund by the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service. His next position was chief of realty for the Fish and Wildlife Service and secretary to the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission before becoming assistant director of Refuges and Wildlife.
Bill was the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Midwest regional director for eight years before returning to Washington as assistant director of the Fish and Wildlife Service and chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System.
He served three years on active duty in the U.S. Army as a field artillery officer and Ranger advisor to the Vietnamese Army. He worked five years for Montgomery County, Maryland before joining the Department of the Interior.
He holds a B.S. from West Virginia University and an M.S. in public administration from the George Washington University.
- Scott Sutherland
Scott Sutherland led the Washington D.C. operation for Ducks Unlimited for 22 years. During his tenure, he was primarily responsible for the organization’s relationship with members of Congress, with federal agency leadership in Washington and with the White House. His work focused on congressional authorization, funding and agency implementation of a broad number of programs important to waterfowl and other wildlife.
Before taking his position with Ducks Unlimited, he served on the White House staff for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. In that role he was responsible for building and maintaining relationships with key constituent groups on behalf of the President. Before his service at the White House, he was a staff member in the United States Senate, in the Alaska House of Representatives and in the Washington State Senate.
He has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Wildlife Habitat Council and served on the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership’s Policy Council. He majored in political science at the University of Washington.