Board of Directors and Staff
The Team – Meet our people!
Any team is only as good as the people who make up its roster, and our charitable organization is no exception! The standards are high at USSA, and we pick people who above all, have a genuine commitment to the special people and the natural resources served by our charity. Additionally, a true commitment to and understanding of our national outdoor heritage is a must for all members of the board, committee members, and management team. Each individual contributes their own unique blend of abilities and areas of expertise for a common good. The end result is a truly rewarding and effective outdoor sport wish granting charity!
Board of Directors
USSA is fortunate to have a highly qualified “Board of Directors” to help oversee the management and direction of USSA. Throughout their years of experience in a wide range of fields, they help establish sound operating policies and lend great insight and input on major charity issues. Our board is committed to the principles of respect, compassion, and equality set forth in our USSA constitution. The board’s code of ethics serves as a code of conduct for association volunteers and staff in their capacity as board members. Members of the board affirm their endorsement of the code and acknowledge their commitment to uphold its principles and obligations by accepting and retaining membership on the board without receiving any source of income from USSA.
USSA Cabinet Members
The USSA “Cabinet” is a group of professionals from a variety of backgrounds; that may provide quality policy or decision advice to the CEO when asked. Even Though not under the day to day operations, the “Cabinet” has special access to the CEO when deemed necessary.
USSA Advisory Council
In order to maximize creativity and unleash the charities potential, an “Advisory Council” helps enlighten board members on topics and issues in their particular area and field of expertise. Although they don’t vote, their role is very important in keeping ideas fresh and operations running smoothly.
USSA Youth Leaders
In the day-to-day operations of USSA, there are a significant number of young people who really take hold and lend a helping hand in the operation of USSA. All too often, today’s youth are criticized for being a selfish generation. We feel that is not a fair and accurate assessment and that these young people deserve recognition for their unselfish contributions to the welfare of those less fortunate. As a young person community service and involvement is an important part of anyone’s resume. Get involved now!
USSA Humanitarian Committee
Last, but certainly not least, this group of people is one of our favorite! They were our first teachers. They took care of us when we were sick. They fed us and consoled us when we were down. We all have one. Yes, we are talking about mothers. These caring individuals don’t see what kind of suit you’re wearing, but they see your heart and soul. They work tirelessly behind the scenes volunteering for a wide variety of duties.
We would like to acknowledge these special mothers, and their important roles in supporting USSA, its children, and its community service mission! THANK YOU ALL, from the bottom of our heart!!!
Board of Directors and Staff
Brigid O’Donoghue grew up in a large family of Irish descent. The oldest daughter in a family with nine kids found responsibility knocking at her door early in life. With limited financial resources, the Milwaukee, WI, native worked at jobs after school and on weekends so she could attend the area’s best private educational facilities. Her physically and mentally challenged younger brother was an inspiration during Brigid’s formative years. (read the Prologue below). Her brother’s physical challenges created a calling in her heart and inspired her to reach out to others who were less fortunate and needed her help. Unfortunately, her own personal health challenges threw her a curve ball. After numerous lengthy stays in and out of the hospital, including major surgery to remove scar tissue from a high fever, Brigid began picking up her life where it had left off years before.
The entrepreneur in her led her to begin her own business selling tractor-trailer loads of ground bark to landscapers throughout the Midwest. In addition, she blazed new trails by trucking bagged cottonseed from the cotton gin producers in the South to feed mills in the North. At the same time, she raised two wonderful children, despite continual abuse and lack of support in her relationship. Her daughter, Lindsey, is a Registered Nurse (like her grandmother) and lives in Milwaukee. Her son, Kenny, is a journeyman and works in the refrigeration industry in San Antonio, TX. Brigid’s children are dear to her heart and provide inspiration in her life and work.
In 1998, Brigid put her feed mill and trucking knowledge to work and started a new specialized company called Bio-Tec Research, Inc., which formulates and markets North America’s highest quality deer and elk products. In addition, she forged a limited-edition fashion line called “Charnel” that features unique, tailored outdoor wear.
When a deer food customer asked Brigid if she knew of any critically ill hunters who would be interested in a free deer hunt at his ranch, the seeds were sown for the birth of USSA. Brigid contacted a Texas man with cancer who flew to the ranch and harvested a nice buck. From that point, USSA’s wheels were in motion. By helping him realize his dream and spending time with this man, Brigid was inspired and knew in her heart she could pass happiness to others who were dealing with life-threatening illnesses. With a clear vision, she developed the all-volunteer United Special Sportsman Alliance in fall of 2000.
Through USSA, Brigid observed the inspiration passed on in her work creates special moments that make even the most difficult of life’s challenges especially meaningful. There is never a time that she does not look back and realize how fortunate she is to have overcome so many personal challenges. That personal healing keeps her striving to do all she can to bring joy and hope into the hearts of others. There is a special place in her heart for those children, adults, veterans and their families with which she shares her time. For Brigid, they are always a special addition to her own family.
Brigid is continuously motivated by the incredible love and life-long connections created between so many special people within the charity. The time shared with these wonderful kids, injured veterans, and their families leaves her knowing that neither she nor USSA recipients are ever truly alone!
“The greatest impact of this charity is helping provide the inspiration for others to get involved,” she said. “We pass on our vision to see beyond the pain, disability, and hardships of serious illnesses. We know we all will endure loss, but the sharing in our work has created a mechanism of hope and healing for the children, the families and for those who help by volunteering their time and resources for this important cause”.
“I have been greatly inspired and at the same time humbled by the positive national impact this vision has created,” she said.
Brigid works with television, radio, print, and digital media across the country and the response from those who get involved is overwhelming. Her plan is to inspire persons to become optimistically intertwined in the lives of others and make a real difference. Her efforts have been successful beyond the charity’s expectations, with thousands of people experiencing a unique way to share hope and create new friendships.
Brigid plans to continue working with a strong Board of Directors, Major Operating Officers, Advisory Council, and Youth Outdoor Leaders to build a charity of caring people – all with the same mission – to provide joy and hope in the lives of needy children and injured veterans. “I feel very blessed to be given the opportunity to operate God’s charity,” she said.
Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
USSA Epilogue – Composed by Brigid O’Donoghue, around the age of 12:
Growing up in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, Pete Normington was a 1972 graduate of Lincoln High school, earning National Honor society recognition for academic achievement. After earning acceptance into the University of Wisconsin Madison, Pete earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1977, with a major in Economics, and an emphasis on Agricultural Economics courses. He then furthered his studies at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point with a Bachelors of Science from the College of Natural Resources with his fish biology major in 1977.
Pete began his work experience at the age of 15, working summers on the familys expanding Ocean Spray cranberry marsh. When combined with a summer of track repair crew work on the Soo Line railroad he learned the value of hard physical work in any upbringing and future career.
After graduating from college, Pete was employed as an agriculture sales and marketing person at Central Sands Produce. Several years later he rejoined the family cranberry marsh, where he currently serves as the President and General Manager of Saddle Mound Cranberry Co, Inc. He also served on the Ocean Spray Wisconsin Advisory Council for several years. He is also co-inventor of a patented hybrid cranberry vine, the HyRed developed at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
In addition, he is currently serving as the Vice President of Bio-Tec Research, Inc, a company specializing in the highest quality deer and elk nutritional products. He acts in a nutritional formulation capacity for the company.
Pete has three sons; Matt is an UWSP graduate and investment agent for Metropolitan Life Insurance. Wes is a UWSP graduate with a fishery major, and currently works on the family cranberry marsh. Scott is the youngest and also attending UWSP with an economics major. All of his sons have participated significantly in USSA volunteer projects.
Pete’s hobbies include hunting, fishing, waterskiing, and basketball. These activities have helped fuel his passion for the outdoors, and strengthened his resolve to provide an opportunity for all to enjoy, regardless of their circumstances in life.
Along with founder Brigid O’Donoghue, Pete helped launch USSA from its very inception. His duties are varied and can consist of assignments from being an onsite volunteer to advising and giving the charity direction.
In addition, he helps conduct a prison ministry, in which inmates are guided towards a better life after they are released. A deep founded respect for the value of human life and family experience helps make USSA an easy choice for Pete’s participation in the charity.
Peter J. Normington
It is a privilege to have been asked to participate on the United Special Sportsman’s Alliance (USSA) board of directors
My name is Jeff Davis, and I was born and raised in Oshkosh Wisconsin. I moved to Stevens Point in June of 1985 to join the Stevens Point Fire Department. My entire career of 32 years was spent serving the community as a fireman/paramedic and the last 3 years as the Assistant Chief. I like to believe that the example I tried to set each day was for the safety and well-being of our community and to foster the growth and betterment of the Brotherhood of which I was a part of.
My wife Ellen and I, reside on 120 acres of land in Amherst Junction wherein 1996 I built our log home. We enjoy raising our kids (chocolate labs) and spoiling our nieces and nephews! Our home is a respite for family and friends who enjoy nature and wildlife.
My passion for the outdoors and giving to others extends to volunteering my time for several organizations. Some of these are; National Wild Turkey Federation, Ageless Aviation Dream Flight, Tails & Trails Dog Park, and the Ice Age Trail Alliance.
I have been involved with the USSA for 10 years being a mentor and providing deer and turkey hunting opportunities for disabled veterans and physically challenged children. There is nothing more rewarding than to witness the freedom of independence the outdoors brings to these individuals.
I hope to serve the board in the manner in which I live my life; with passion, commitment, selflessness and as a servant leader.
I grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and graduated from Catholic High School in 1981. After high school I attended Louisiana State University Health Science Center and graduated in 1987 in Cardiopulmonary Science. From there I pursued a career in Perfusion Technology at the University of Texas, graduating with my second degree in 1990. I currently live in Lafayette, Louisiana where I have been practicing as a certified Clinical Perfusionist since graduation. Working as a Perfusionist, I helped start up a pediatric heart program, robotic heart program, and helped implement minimally invasive heart valve procedures in Lafayette. I have been involved in thousands of heart procedures since graduation. I am currently co-owner of Louisiana Perfusion Services in Lafayette.
I have been married to my wife Renee for 27 years, and we have 3 children, Amanda, Adam and Austin. Our older two children are in college, and we lost Austin when he was 15 years old. I have enjoyed a lifelong passion for hunting and fishing, which I share with my father and boys. Now Dad, Adam and I go when our schedule permits since Adam lives in another town while in college.
My wife and I became involved with USSA when our youngest son, Austin, died in February of 2013. Austin loved hunting and fishing, which he did every chance he could. In lieu of flowers, Renee and I asked our friends and family to make memorial donations to USAA in Austin’s name, so that special needs children could enjoy what Austin enjoyed. In June 2014, we witnessed first-hand the amazing things this organization has to offer when the Catching Bigger Fish fishing tournament was held in Austin’s memory. The success of the event would not have been possible without the efforts of USSA. I am proud to be affiliated with this USSA and look forward to seeing what the future holds.
I have been married to my husband, Brent, for 27 years. We have two sons, 22 and 24 years old. Brent has owned White Ghost Ranch for over 25 years. White Ghost Ranch has been a passion of Brent’s since he was a young boy, and I am lucky enough to be married to him and blessed to enjoy the fruit of his labor. Hard work, sweat and tears has given us the opportunity to give back with our time and resources to so many; our passion is terminally ill and disabled children and young adults. We have partnered with USSA for over 18 years and have been blessed enough to have hosted 27 hunts as of 2019. I love children and especially hosting them, and feel very blessed to be able to love on them. USSA and these children have changed my life forever.
My name is Annette Johnson I am married to a wonderful man Ron for nearly 29 years. I’m the mother of 3 great sons. Our oldest Shaun is married to a wonderful wife Heather; they have a 2 year old son Drake who is the light of our lives. Our 2nd son Brandon is single and a very loving and caring young man. Our youngest son Wesley has Down syndrome. Wesley has a sweet girl friend named Sara and they are planning to get married; we couldn’t be happier.
Something that our family has in common is the great outdoors; especially hunting. So when Wesley’s teacher approached me with a brochure about USSA I was very excited and got right in touch with the charity.
Our son was set up for a pheasant hunt by Spring Green, WI which is where we met USSA’s founder, Brigid O’Donoghue. I could never put into words what my son and family experience on our first USSA hunt. Ron and I were in awe of the whole concept of the charity; it wasn’t long afterwards we join on board hoping we could give back to an organization we believed in.
It has been over 4 years now since my family got involved in the charity. Brigid and I are the best of friends and love each other like sisters. We hold deep in our hearts a desire to grant children with disabilities and life-threatening illnesses free outdoor adventures.
I enjoy volunteering my time with personalized thank you cards to financial donors and those who have been volunteers, or contributed any other way. I help with the food at different events, by purchasing supplies and preparing meals. I also truly enjoy making phone calls to families and helping Brigid set up events. Being part of this charity and meeting all the families is truly a rewarding experience for me and all those who get involved.
My name is Adam Bernarde; my family consists of my wife, Lisa, my three kids, Sara Beth, Hunter, Lillian, and all the various dogs. I got the love of the outdoors from my Dad. As early as 3 years old he would carry me on his shoulders while coon hunting. I in turn have the honor and privilege to do the same with my own kids, and they have shown me that they are my greatest joy in the field.
I started teaching hunter safety 10 years ago and enjoy teaching the kids as well as all the adults that take the course.
How did I get started with USSA? Well this enthusiastic lady Brigid calls me at 10:00 PM. she tells me about a hunt that she is putting on about 5 mile from my house, but needs some help. Brigid asks if I can help her out with a hunter education refresher course. After she explained who this hunt was for, I just couldn’t say no.
The reason I couldn’t say no was because of a country song that just came out. You see my wife and I just had our first child. A little girl we named Sara Beth Hope Bernarde. It only took five years and an in-vitro clinic to get her. Well this country song comes out and tells a story of Sara Beth on how she gets diagnosed with cancer when she turns sixteen. I thought of all the good fortune that I have had in my life and realized that without my daughter having the opportunity to be in the field with me it was not complete. So, a month after her birth she started to ride along with me when I checked traps. Having my kids in the field with me has since been the greatest joy in life.
I wish to share the opportunity and provide the knowledge to all that I can, so that you and your families can have your own memories in the field. It has been said that your worth is not what you leave this world with but what you leave behind. We all must do what we can to provide for the future. Teaching the next generations on how to be safe while handling firearms and safety a field is my chosen part.
May you all have a safe and memorable time a field in whatever endeavors you choose!
I started hunting with my dad when I was 2 years old. I knew from the beginning that it was something I would enjoy. For me hunting isn’t just something I do, it’s a way of life and who I am. Harvesting an animal is just a small part of it, the real enjoyment is being out there and watching what nature has to offer. As I look back on hunting, I always considered it “My time”, until I discovered the USSA. Now it’s “Our time”!
A few years ago, I received a bear harvest permit and I received a letter from the USSA, asking for me to donate the tag to a well deserving child. After speaking with Brigid, I told her I would donate it if I could take the child hunting. This could not have come at a better time in my life, as I was dealing with a very difficult life changing situation. My son, daughter and I started baiting as I have done since I was 16 years old, and 3 months later the hunt was finally here. When the child, his father, and a very good friend of his showed up to hunt, I was very nervous, as I wanted more than anything for him to connect on his trophy. The excitement the child showed when it all came together was priceless and all the bear hunters around the area were at the registration station when we went to register it. They were all so happy for him, and a friend came up to me and shook my hand and thanked me for all of this, as he also had a child with the same struggles in life. As my eyes welled up with tears, I realized my kids and I were part of something “bigger” than us all. It was my calling and when people offer thanks for this gesture, I tell them its side of me that loves to hunt and introduce others to the great sport of bear hunting. Over the years, I have taken several children hunting and witnessed them harvesting their first animal. I noticed that the bear hunters have to turn away for a moment, because it’s not right for people to see us “big tough” bear guides with tears in our eyes. But more than that, I meet so many great people willing and offering to help me with the hunts. I always tell the families and children, “It is a group effort, so please thank everyone”. We, as hunters, agree and disagree about different things about hunting, but we walk away as friends, and the hounds-men in the area are always willing to take the kids hunting with their hounds if my baits go “cold”. Over the last few years, I have seen a unity develop with the hunters in the area, due to the kind gestures of people of the USSA Family. I truly believe that the future of hunting is in the hands of the sportsmen and women, and it is extremely important to introduce people, who normally wouldn’t have the opportunity to hunt, to this great sport. I enjoy this great sport and will continue to work with the USSA in their efforts, to make dreams and wishes come true for the kids and our veterans.
Taking the children hunting over the last few years, I’d like to believe that I taught them things about hunting the black bear, but as I sit in the stand with them, I realize that they are teaching me just as much and probably more. Every child seems to teach me a little more about myself and how to face the day to day challenges in life with pride and dignity. When the families show up to hunt, they seem to have a great deal of appreciation for things in life, and when they thank me for the hunt, I tell them there is no need for thanks, because my thank you is the smiles and excitement they allowed me to see and share in their child and family. The animal, no matter what size, is always a trophy, but the real satisfaction is in the “Trophy Hugs and Smiles.”
I will work very hard for the USSA, as the bear hunting coordinator, so please consider this as my offering to do so.
Dalton Brownfield, 24 years old was born and raised in Urbana, Illinois. He worked in construction before injured in a work-related explosion. The accident left him with 2nd and 3rd-degree burns covering 85% of his body.
Hunting and fishing was always a huge part of his life for as long as he could remember. He harvested his first deer at ten years old and hooked on whitetail hunting ever since. Besides hunting, another lifelong passion was bass fishing. He enjoys fishing tournaments, pond, and river fishing. When he is not hunting or fishing, he enjoys spending time with his fiancé and daughter.
Unfortunately for Dalton, the accident was a massive roadblock for his outdoor passions. Many things that were once easy to do became a challenge. He worked hard through therapy in hopes to continue doing the things he enjoyed most.
In October 2017, he helped guide a deer hunt for a child battling a life-threatening illness at USSA’s IL Dream Hunt in Harrisburg, IL. Dalton said, “To say the Dream Hunt changed my life is an understatement. I hope to continue to work with children and show them that no matter the situation, the outdoors is always a getaway.”