Rick Parsons has been named SCI’s new Chief Executive Officer, succeeding Phil DeLone. Parsons joined SCI in 1985 and has held various positions in the organization since, including stints as the head of the Washington, D.C. Office and as interim Executive Director at the Tucson, Arizona headquarters.
SCI President Larry Higgins announced Dec. 10 that Rick Parsons, a Life member of SCI, career staffer and consultant, is the new CEO. Previous CEO Phil DeLone resigned Dec. 9 to become the CEO of the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitor Authority.
Parsons is a lawyer by profession, with a degree in International Law. He has worked in the conservation field since 1967, first with the U.S. government and then with SCI in various capacities.
In the government, Parsons was an attorney advisor in three Departments, worked on the Endangered Species Act, the Lacey Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Pittman-Robertson Act and CITES, among other things. He was a wildlife law enforcement officer for four years, heading the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s unit on International Investigations. He helped draft the CITES treaty, was the first chief of the U.S. CITES office, was head of the CITES executive body for several years, and is the only person in the world still active in CITES who has participated in every meeting of that treaty from its negotiation in 1973 through the 17th meeting of the treaty this year in Johannesburg.
In SCI, Parsons has served since 1985 as Government Affairs Counsel, as chief CITES advisor and as Parliamentarian. He provided the primary support in the drafting and implementation of SCI’s Long-Range Strategic Plan. He has been counsel to the Ethics and Code of Conduct Committee and the Bylaws Committee. In 2008, Rick resigned his position as head of the Washington, D.C. Office to move to Florida for family reasons, although he remained on contract to SCI. He and his wife Barbara will be resettling in Tucson very shortly.
“Rick has been my right hand in planning and managing the EC and Board meetings and keeping us within the scope of our own Bylaws and policies,” said SCI President Larry Higgins. “Rick has a broad knowledge of all aspects of SCI’s work. He is objective, is a straight shooter and plays it by the book. His willingness to take over as CEO has allowed us to have a seamless transition.”
In a memo to the staff, Parsons noted: “My emphasis will be on carrying out the game plan for SCI that is laid out in the Strategic Plan and the Budget. Staff plays a vital role because you are the people who get it done. You make those documents come to life.”
When Parsons returned from the CITES meeting in Johannesburg this October, he said, “The antis are alive and well and very numerous. They have hunting, and SCI in particular, in their sights for destruction. They are not just after international trophy hunting in Africa and Asia. They are after quail and rabbit hunting in Iowa, grizzly bear hunting in Canada, mule deer hunting in Wyoming, stalking stag in the Scottish Highlands or pursuing desert bighorns in Mexico.”
Parsons’ work with SCI has put him in contact with many outfitters, particularly in Alaska and Africa, and he is familiar with their issues and concerns. He is also knowledgeable on many hunting and firearms issues, having worked extensively with the National Rifle Association in Washington and in coalitions, including the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, National Shooting Sports Foundation, Boone and Crockett Club, Wild Sheep Foundation and many others.
Parsons learned his hunting skills from his adopted son, Tom Parsons, who he calls the most ethical hunter and true naturalist who he knows. Parsons is good with a rifle, okay with a bow, decent with a pistol and says he has a lot to learn about shotguns. He took his first whitetail deer with a bow, and has trophies, including deer, blackbuck, pheasant, quail, kudu, wildebeest and zebra.