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Executive Director (posted 8/27/21)

Executive Director

[Download a PDF of the complete Position Profile]


The Executive Director will provide visionary leadership and comprehensive oversight for the Wisconsin Academy, including strategic planning, board governance, financial stability, programming, and staff management. The Wisconsin Academy’s Board of Directors seeks a strongly collaborative leader who will embrace the values of the organization while working collectively to set a future vision for the Wisconsin Academy that will inspire and guide the Board and staff. The Executive Director reports directly to the Board of Directors through the Board President. Responsibilities include the following:


  • Direct the activities and growth of the Wisconsin Academy and work with staff and board members to build upon the vision, mission and strategic plan that guide programs and development.
  • Lead strategic and program planning for the organization.
  • Foster creativity and cooperation among staff members; supervise and evaluate staff and provide overall operational direction for programs.
  • Engage the Board of Directors in governance and fundraising activities. Cultivate board leadership and recruit new members, while at the same time broadening the Academy’s general membership and sponsorships and deepening their engagement.



  • Supervise program and senior development and financial management staff (currently 6 direct reports).
  • Ensure compliance with labor laws, hiring practices.
  • Contract authority for all Academy contracts with vendors, insurance providers, partnerships, and professional services/consultants.
  • Facilities management oversight: (ensure code and safety compliance, authorize maintenance and capital improvements working with the Building Manager and Outreach Coordinator).
  • Work with the Academy and Foundation Board Presidents to plan quarterly board meetings, committee strategies, meeting design.



  • Set financial goals and budgets that anticipate near-term and future challenges and opportunities.
  • Oversee and be accountable for Wisconsin Academy’s operations, including sound financial controls and reporting.
  • Develop the annual budget and financial strategies with the staff team and consultation with the Finance-Audit committee.
  • Manage the annual budget with the leadership team to meet financial and programmatic goals and objectives.



  • Oversee fundraising program strategies to ensure resources for and long-term sustainability and annual operations ($800,000 to $1 million).
  • Work closely with the director of development to coordinate a comprehensive fundraising program to achieve development goals and objectives including developing and stewarding personal relationships with major donors and grantmaking organizations and other personal cultivation as appropriate to support Academy operations and growth of the Foundation endowment.
  • Work with the Wisconsin Academy and Foundation boards to engage their leadership and participation in fundraising plans and their implementation.
  • Cultivate relationships with potential supporters to identify and connect with new sources of funding to meet fundraising goals.
  • Oversee compliance with grant obligations and restricted funds management with program directors and the business manager.
  • Serve as a key spokesperson, strategist, and champion for the Academy’s planned capital campaign. (Target goal is $ 4.5 million).


Represent the Academy

  • Be the steward and strongest advocate for the Academy’s commitment to DEI and its evolution for all organizational planning and programming
  • Identify opportunities to raise the public profile of the Wisconsin Academy and its core programs across Wisconsin.
  • Maintain and enhance current relationships and build new relationships with individuals, organizations and media that can assist the Wisconsin Academy in achieving its mission.
  • Represent the Academy on the Cultural Coalition and the Overture Center for the Arts Resident Companies Advisory Council and other formal and informal collaborations closely tied to mission and programs as appropriate.



The chosen candidate will need to establish strong and productive working partnerships with the Academy Board of Directors and Foundation Board; prior experience with such partnerships would be deemed useful. A familiarity with and understanding of Wisconsin regions, populations, educational and business sectors would also be a plus. The successful candidate will have the following skill sets and experience:

  • Strong passion for building a great institution that can grow significantly within the Madison community and across the state.
  • Demonstrated success in personally securing philanthropic support in a not-for-profit environment.
  • Detail oriented and methodical about organizational routines and processes.
  • A clear knowledge of the ramifications of programmatic and budgetary decisions and the need to align them strategically.
  • Demonstrated ability to motivate and lead a team focused on long-term objectives.
  • A collaborative style to engage staff, Board, and key donors.
  • A tenacity and drive to help the Wisconsin Academy continue to produce at a consistently high level.
  • Strong communication, social, and interpersonal skills in multiple social and business contexts.



The search for the Executive Director is headed by a ten-member committee, chaired by Kevin Reilly. The committee’s desire is to identify a candidate by November 2021 with the new Executive Director on site as soon as possible thereafter. The salary range starts at $100,000 annually and is negotiable based on background and experience. The compensation package includes health and life insurance as well as paid vacation/holidays.

Jason Palmquist and Jonathan West are the MCA consultants who will facilitate this search. Interested candidates are invited to confidentially send a resumé, cover letter, and at least three professional references (name, work relationship, email, phone). All materials must be in.pdf (preferred) or Word format with the applicant’s name included as part of the document file name and submitted through the MCA application portal for this search:

Management Consultants for the Arts, Inc.
Phone: 203-353-0722

Questions about this search may be submitted to: With "Wisconsin Academy Executive Director Search" in the subject line.


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    Wisconsin Academy Offices 
    1922 University Avenue
    Madison, Wisconsin 53726
    Phone: 608.733.6633


    James Watrous Gallery of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters
    3rd Floor, Overture Center for the Arts
    201 State Street
    Madison, WI 53703
    Phone: 608.733.6633 x25