The former executive director of general operations for the National Rifle Association has been selected as the sixth leader of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
Kyle Weaver, 47, is house hunting in Missoula in anticipation of moving his family from Fairfax, Virginia, to start his new job in June as president and CEO, a spokesman for the elk foundation said Monday.
Weaver succeeds David Allen, who took over RMEF in 2007 after a career in the NASCAR and Professional Bull Riding world. Allen stepped down earlier this year in advance of the end of his contract in August.
“He’s still around,” spokesman Mark Holyoak said of Allen, who lives in Billings. “As we got closer to the end of his contract he was like, ‘You know what? The end’s coming. Let’s go ahead and get on to other things.”
Holyoak said that among other endeavors, Allen has co-promoted the Ty Murray Invitational PBR event in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for the past 22 years and will put more of his focus on that event.
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In announcing the initiation of a search committee to find Allen’s replacement last September, the RMEF board chair lauded Allen for his leadership in a press release.
“There is no question that he is leaving RMEF much better than he found it,” Philip Barrett said, adding the end of Allen’s tenure “provides an opportunity for the board to transition to a new leader to secure the continued growth and success of RMEF."
The elk foundation was founded in Troy in 1984 and moved its headquarters to Missoula four years later. It has grown to a membership of more than 227,000 and says it has conserved more than 7.3 million acres for elk and other wildlife while working to open and improve public access and “to ensure the future of America’s hunting heritage.”
Nancy Holland stepped off the elk foundation’s board in early February to serve as interim president and CEO. Holyoak said she'll rejoin the volunteer board when Weaver arrives.
Weaver comes to Missoula after running his own consulting firm in Washington, D.C., for the past two years. Before that he served for more than 20 years with the NRA.
“There are several arms in that organization and he worked in the nonpolitical area,” said Holyoak.
In his last four years with the NRA, Weaver was in charge of general operations. According to his LinkedIn profile, he fueled annual earnings growth from $5.7 million to $31 million from grassroots fundraising programs. A statement from the elk foundation said Weaver’s oversight there included educational, safety and training programs, grassroots fundraising, and hunting and conservation programs.
“His role ... was to oversee almost everything the NRA did that wasn’t overtly political,” wrote Mike Spies in March 2017 for The Trace, an online magazine and NRA watchdog.
Spies claimed Weaver, the NRA’s third highest-ranking executive, was dismissed the month before the 2016 presidential election and speculated that the reasons were political. The NRA spent more than $30 million to help elect Donald Trump, according to Spies as well as the Los Angeles Times, Newsweek and other media. Spies said the NRA made no public announcement of Weaver’s departure.
In Monday's press release, Weaver called the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation “the most respected wildlife conservation organization in the country,” and called it “a tremendous honor” to serve as its leader.
“Moving forward, as a team, we will elevate the delivery of RMEF’s mission, including our lands and access work as well as advocating for our hunting heritage,” he said. “My entire career has been dedicated to protecting, promoting and supporting our rights in the outdoors as hunters and conservationists. I am excited and welcome this opportunity.”
Weaver, a passionate and avid hunter, is a life member of the RMEF and has supported it for more than a decade. He’s a graduate of Longwood University in Virginia, where he played collegiate baseball. He is a founding board member and current chairman of the Fathers in the Field mentoring ministry.
Co-founder Bob Munson of Troy was the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation's first director. He was succeeded at the helm by Gary Wolfe in 1998, Rich Lane in 2001, Peter Dart in 2003 and Allen in 2007.