Washington D.C. (September 15, 2020) – The membership of the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) elected Sara Parker Pauley, Director of the Missouri Department of Conservation, as its new president during its 110th Virtual Annual Meeting.  Director Pauley will serve as AFWA President through September 2021.

In accepting AFWA’s Presidency, Pauley expressed gratitude for the leadership and accomplishments made by AFWA under Past-President Kelly Hepler, Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks and reflected on the importance of state fish and wildlife agencies’ relevancy roadmap and the critical impact of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act.

“It is a huge honor to be selected to serve as President of AFWA, including being the first female to serve in this role since AFWA’s beginning in 1902. As people have flocked to the outdoors in record numbers during this pandemic, this is a crucial time for state agencies to look closely at how we connect with our diverse mix of citizens, some personally experiencing the positive benefits of nature for the first time,” said Pauley. “It is also imperative that we secure the critical funding through the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, which would be a game changer for conservation in this country. I look forward to working with the state and Canadian agency directors, as well as the outstanding AFWA staff, in the coming year and serving as a catalyst on pushing our conservation priorities forward.”

 “Sara Parker Pauley is an inspirational leader and will be a great AFWA President,” stated Hepler, 2019-2020 AFWA President. “I have always been impressed by her inclusive style of leadership and her compassion. She is a true agent of responsible change and a tireless fighter for states’ rights. I cannot think of a more qualified person to lead the Association in these challenging, yet opportunity filled times.”

Sara Parker Pauley serves as the ninth director and first female director of the Missouri Department of Conservation since its formation in 1937. She has served in this role since November 2016.

An avid outdoorswoman and life-long Missourian, Pauley received both her law degree and bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri – Columbia and did post-graduate studies in Australia as a Rotary Fellow. She previously served as Director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources since 2010. She has worked as project manager for D.J. Case & Associates, a natural resources communications firm, deputy director for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and as an instructor at the University of Missouri’s School of Natural Resources, teaching a course in natural resource policy and administration.

Pauley began her professional career as a Policy Analyst with the Missouri Department of Conservation from 1993-1996. Over the years, though her career path varied, it has never strayed far from her personal desire to be engaged in the stewardship of Missouri’s natural resources. 


The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies represents North America’s fish and wildlife agencies to advance sound, science-based management and conservation of fish and wildlife and their habitats in the public interest. The Association represents its state agency members on Capitol Hill and before the Administration to advance favorable fish and wildlife conservation policy and funding and works to ensure that all entities work collaboratively on the most important issues. The Association also provides member agencies with coordination services on cross-cutting as well as species-based programs that range from birds, fish habitat and energy development to climate change, wildlife action plans, conservation education, leadership training and international relations. Working together, the Association’s member agencies are ensuring that North American fish and wildlife management has a clear and collective voice.