January, the Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation welcomed Bruce Pasfield to the position of Executive Board President. Bruce enters the role with multiple years of existing board experience and will replace outgoing President Aly Courtemanch, who fulfilled her six-year term at the end of 2018. We wasted no time seating our new president in the “JHWF interview hot-seat” to have Bruce introduce himself, and a bit about his vision for the organization going forward:
Q: Welcome Bruce! We’re excited to introduce you as our Board President. To start off, how did you first hear about JHWF? Was there anything in particular which initially drew you to the organization?
A: Thanks Kyle. I’m excited to take over as Board President. I’ve been involved in conservation issues since a young age and when my wife and I decided to move to Jackson full time, it only made sense for us to explore the local non-profit community options. Jackson has a multitude of non-profits, so it can be a little daunting to choose between all the alternatives. What drew me to the JHWF was the people and the mission. The board and staff were welcoming and known for their cooperative efforts to make the community more wildlife friendly. Once I learned about the people and the mission, it was a pretty easy choice for me to join the board and now to lead it.
Q: Would you be willing to share a little about your professional background outside of your work with the Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation (JHWF)?
A: For many years I was a U.S. Department of Justice trial attorney who specialized in prosecuting environmental crimes. Think Exxon Valdez or the more recent VW scandal. These cases were incredibly interesting and demanding. Prosecuting court cases against Fortune 500 companies where outcomes can be multimillion dollar fines or executives landing behind bars, you have to be on your game. After 20 years of government service, I decide to try my hand at the private sector and became a partner at the law firm of Alston & Bird. Private practice provides more entrepreneurial opportunities which I enjoy. I found working on both sides of the fence has given me a broader perspective on negotiating resolutions as well as a deeper understanding of environmental law. The creative aspect of this work is something I hope to employ while President of the JHWF.
Q: What keeps you busy in your spare time?
A: Spare time, what spare time? Seriously though, I’m slowing down on the legal work as I phase into retirement. Billable hours are less of a focus now and that has opened up a whole new universe for me. For starters, my wife Nancy and I can now spend more quality time together which is refreshing after the unrelenting pace of two professionals raising children in the Washington D.C. area. Beyond that I’m one of the assistant coaches for the Jackson Hole High School football team and its been a lot of fun helping to turn that program around. And when I’m not busy with the Broncs or JHWF, you can usually find me doing some form of skiing in the winter and on the trial hiking or birding in the summer. I’m also working on my golf game and learning how to fly fish.
Q: You’re stepping into a new role as board president, but you’ve held a position on our board for a few years. Based on your experience as board member, what has JHWF been able to achieve that you are especially proud of, and where do you see opportunities for growth within the organization?
A: Removing 200 miles of fence in 25 years is an incredible accomplishment and probably the most tangible success of the JHWF. I’m also just awed to be associated with past President Aly Courtemanch who is one of the most knowledgeable and dedicated wildlife biologist I’ve ever met. I’m really proud of her stewardship of JHWF over the last six years and hope I can deliver as well as she did. In terms of growth, I see opportunities in all our program areas. From fence removal to mitigating wildlife vehicle collisions to mapping wildlife movement, there is a great deal more that can be done voluntarily to make the valley more permeable for wildlife. I also see opportunities to make the community more aware of our work and potentially expand it to other communities such as Pinedale, Dubois and over the hill in Victor and Driggs. We won’t grow for growth’s sake, but to the extent we can help other communities duplicate some of our programs it would be a win win.
Q: Apart from serving on the board, you’ve also been an active member on our volunteer “fence team.” What about these projects keeps you coming back? Do you have any advice for people who are looking for ways to get involved with conservation efforts here in Jackson, or in their own communities?
A: The fence projects are so rewarding because they are so immediate and tangible. Fence teams remove or modify fencing and the results are in front of your eyes by the end of the day. If you haven’t been involved in conservation efforts and are looking for a way to become more active, the fence projects are a great way to start. Just sign up, show up, get some basic instruction on fence removal and you are on your way. Boom! If you want more, we have plenty of projects where we can use volunteer help. In fact, most of our programs have a large volunteer component. All of these projects are a great way to connect and meet people in the community.