Seizing an opportunity to work more effectively for deer during a challenging period in wildlife conservation, the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) and the National Deer Alliance (NDA) revealed on Tuesday a joint venture that unifies their two organisations into what will soon become a new super-group in deer conservation. The venture will combine the strengths, resources and core initiatives of QDMA and NDA into a single, modernised outfit able to serve deer, hunters and the industry more effectively at a time when the need is greatest.
The Australian Deer Association (ADA) has enjoyed a close working relationship with the QDMA since its formation, several ADA members and executives have also been members of the NDA since its inception six years ago.
“QDMA has always been a progressive and adaptive organisation” ADA Executive Officer Barry Howlett said “what always impressed us, and what have tried to emulate, is the pure focus that QDMA has on progress and relevance. It’s the values that carry through and the leaders there have always been pragmatic enough to put those values ahead of being comfortable”.
Boards of Directors of the QDMA and NDA completed unanimous approval of unification in late June. Nick Pinizzotto, President and CEO of NDA, will lead the new group.
“While there’s no question the crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic has hit many organizations hard, we are turning the tables by using the situation, combined with the many challenges deer and hunters are facing, as an opportunity to become laser focused on delivering a mission that serves deer, hunters and industry effectively and efficiently,” said Pinizzotto.
Pinizzotto will unify the two teams through an immediate strategic planning process that will finalize the organisation’s name and structure before the autumn 2020 hunting season. Unification will be complete by the end of the year, providing a clear direction for work heading into 2021.
The merging of NDA and QDMA makes sense. Following QDMA’s North American Deer Summit at Missouri’s Big Cedar Lodge in 2014, QDMA formed NDA to serve as the unified voice of the modern deer hunter and guardian of wild deer. Though both groups continue to achieve unique victories for all deer hunters, unification will end duplication of effort in many areas, allow for more efficient operations, and maximise effectiveness. Being similar, the missions of QDMA and NDA blend easily, leaving familiar, fundamental values in place while creating ample room for adaptation to the changed landscape of fundraising and wildlife conservation.
“The timing couldn’t be better,” said Sam Burgeson, NDA Board Chairman. “With the challenges facing deer, deer conservation, and deer hunting today, this merger provides exciting and unique opportunities to bring together our resources and strengthen our ability to carry out our mission. Our board has utmost confidence in Nick’s ability to lead us through this process and into the future.”
A combination of unique circumstances led to unification. As the pandemic emerged in March 2020, QDMA’s executive leadership team and Board realised past business models would have to change immediately. QDMA and NDA have collaborated since the creation of NDA in 2014, so conversations about mutual support during the pandemic led to a bigger discussion. With QDMA’s CEO position being vacant at the time, a clear path emerged. Pinizzotto’s previous experience as President and CEO of NDA, the Sportsmen’s Alliance and the Delta Waterfowl Foundation, as well as his extensive industry connections and experience in wildlife policy arenas, made him the ideal person to lead the unified deer organisation.
“President Ronald Reagan once said, ‘There is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don’t care who gets credit.’ These two organisations working hand-in-glove was envisioned several years ago. Today, the boards and key staff of both entities simply wanted to do the right thing for deer and didn’t care who got credit for it, so they have accomplished something truly amazing in unifying these organisations,” said Rick Dahl, QDMA Board Chairman.
QDMA’s executive leadership team unanimously supports Pinizzotto and the unification decision. They include Director of Conservation Kip Adams, Assistant Director of Hunting Heritage Programs Hank Forester, Director of Accounting and Finance April Robertson, Assistant Director of Conservation Matt Ross, and Director of Communications Lindsay Thomas Jr. They are joined in support by QDMA Founder Joe Hamilton.
With a growing list that includes counterproductive wildlife policy, shrinking hunter numbers, loss of habitat, the rapid spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD) and other challenges, the need for a strong non-profit leader in deer conservation has never been greater. The Boards, leadership and staffs of both groups believe now is their opportunity to join forces and form the most efficient, effective deer group in the history of modern hunting. No two organisations are better positioned or equipped to do more for the future of deer hunting and North America’s most important game species.