Fly Fishers International (FFI) is excited to announce the selection of a notable slate of individuals to the FFI Board of Directors. Poised to help guide the organization into a transformative chapter in FFI’s history, new board members represent influential leaders in the fly fishing industry as well as FFI leaders from the club, council level, and program levels. FFI also added current board member Jen Ripple to the FFI Executive Committee and appointed her as chair of the new FFI Nominations, Elections, and Board Development Committee.
Heather Hodson from Spokane, WA is founder of United Women on the Fly, a community of women anglers, focusing on connection, resources and education into the sport of fly fishing. Referred to as the “middle woman,” Heather volunteers her time and energy to connect, educate and provide resources, enabling anglers to become more confident on the water. Her passion for uniting outdoor individuals, sharing her knowledge and enthusiasm to think outside the box is infectious. Heather works as nurse and greatly enjoys spending time behind the camera as an outdoor photographer. Follow Heather’s adventures: @northwestflygirl
Joel Johnson from Silver Spring, MD is an award-winning marketer with over 20 years of experience in advertising and public relations in the corporate and nonprofit sectors. He was a founding partner in Admirable Devil, an ad agency with outdoor and conservation clients. While at Trout Unlimited, as VP and Chief Marketing Officer, Joel conceived the Wild Steelheaders United brand, built corporate support for programs, and launched new channels and publications to engage thousands of members. He has held senior strategy and management roles at GMMB, Porter Novelli, Sapient Nitro, and DDB (Chicago, London), where he developed campaigns for the world’s most recognizable brands including Gillette, the NBA, and Pepsi. Joel currently leads the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation and Half-Earth Project brands and their campaign engagement strategy as Chief Marketing and Communications Officer.
Bruce Williams from Paradise Valley, AZ is a passionate fly fisher and casting instructor. He earned a Master Casting Instructor designation in 2005, and the Two-Handed Casting Instructor certification in 2014. He currently serves as Chair of the FFI Casting Board of Governors. In his role at FFI, Bruce has been instrumental in helping advance a variety of FFI initiatives and providing exceptional leadership for the casting group. Bruce has more than 40 years of experience in banking and investment counseling, joining Ironwood Investment Counsel as a founding partner in 2003. He has also served on the board of the Nature Conservancy of Arizona for 19 years, including three years as chair, and currently serves as a board member of Western Rivers Conservancy.
Peter Vandergrift from Missoula, MT has been in the fly fishing industry for decades, and is widely regarded as one of the best PR and marketing professionals in the fly fishing trade. Pete started off as guide and outfitter for 18 years in Alaska then Montana. He then went on to work in marketing at outdoor industry stalwarts Simms Fishing Products and Costa Sunglasses. Most recently he became the Chief Marketing Officer at North Point Brands, owners of Cheeky Fishing and Wingo Outdoors. Conservation and community are important hallmarks of Vandergrift’s work. He has been instrumental in establishing the Kick Plastic movement. He was also recognized for his work with the indigenous fishing communities with the nonprofit Indifly as well as helping Trout Unlimited connect to the next generation of conservationist with the Costa TU 5 Rivers College program. He is also credited with creating strong relationships in the guide and outfitting community with events such as Simms Ice Out and Costa’s Slack Tide Guide Gathering.
Patty Lueken from Mountain Home, AR is one of the founding members FFI Women Connect, first established in 2016. With boundless enthusiasm and a clear vision for advancing the women’s programs at FFI, Patty has flourished in her role as the leader of FFI Women Connect and chair of the Women’s Program Committee. Under Patty’s guidance, the committee hopes to attain at least fifty percent representation of women in FFI, and help establish women in leadership roles across the organization. Patty has also stepped up to chair the planning committee for FFI’s forthcoming Virtual Expo in the fall of 2021. In her professional and volunteer career, Patty worked as a trial attorney and served as the President of the Arkansas Trial Lawyers Association as well as President of the Pulaski County Bar Association.
Barry Webster from Farmer’s Branch, TX has served on the Board of the FFI Texas Council is currently leading the way as chair of FFI’s Membership Committee. Barry is also active in several local FFI clubs, including his role in several board positions. As a Mechanical Engineer by education, Barry retired from a career with the IBM Corporation, where he was a manager for Technical Sales resources and IBM Software Architects for an area in the Southwest US. You can often find Barry working as a demonstration tyer at local and regional Fly Fishing shows as well at several FFI Expo’s when he’s not out fishing his local waters.
Todd Heggestad from Duluth, MN has been a member of the Fly Fishers International for over 20 years, volunteering at both the club and council level, and now serving as the chair of the Council President’s Committee. He has been the club President and Treasurer of the Arrowhead Fly Fishers in Northern Minnesota and Wisconsin. He has been the President, Treasurer, and Education Director of the Upper Midwest Council for the last 10 years. The education aim of FFI has been an important initiative for Todd and the Upper Midwest Council with the establishment of their annual Fly Fishing School. He is also a Certified Casting Instructor and teaches at club events and through his local community education program.
Jen is the Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of the international flyfishing lifestyle magazine, DUN Magazine. In addition to her work at DUN, she writes the Fly-Fishing Women’s Buyer’s Guide for Outside Magazine and the Women’s Best Of column for Gray’s Sporting Journal, among others. She is a member of the Executive Board of Directors for Fly Fishers International, member of the Board of Directors for the Harpeth River Conservancy, member of the Advisory Committee for the TU Service Partnership and a former member of the Board of Directors for the American Fly-Fishing Trade Association. She has been named Southerner of the Year by Southern Living Magazine and is considered one of the top women changing the sport of fly fishing. Jen is a professional angler and conference speaker, who spends her time empowering anglers by teaching fly tying and casting clinics, speaking nationwide on a variety of topics, and devoting her time to conservation efforts through nonprofits. A sounding board for women in this currently male-dominated sport, Jen has created a home base for women worldwide to connect and engage in the art of fly fishing.
More information on the full FFI Board of Directors can be found at: