Wisconsin Academy: Jane Elder named new Wisconsin Academy executive director

Contact: Jason A. Smith, communications director

MADISON—The Wisconsin Academy is pleased to announce the selection of Jane Elder as the new executive director of the independent nonprofit organization. Drawing from a pool of strong candidates, Elder was selected by the Wisconsin Academy Council (the organization’s statewide governing body). She succeeds Margaret Lewis, who retired on January 1, 2012.

Elder brings a strong background in public policy leadership, nonprofit management and involvement in Wisconsin arts to the Wisconsin Academy. Her career has focused on environmental policy and communications, which is balanced by interests that include theater, modern dance, and painting.

Elder was the founding director of the Sierra Club’s Great Lakes Program, and led the organization’s Midwest Office for many years, spearheading advances in water quality, air quality, and public lands protection in the region. She was the first recipient of Sierra Club’s Michael McCloskey Award, which honors “a distinguished record of achievement in national or international conservation causes.”

As the founding director of the Biodiversity Project—a nationwide initiative to raise public awareness about the value of Earth’s diverse species, habitats and ecosystems, and promote responsive action to stem the tide of loss—her work included a project to explore the ethical and theological reasons for protecting biodiversity, and a groundbreaking environmental communications handbook: Ethics for a Small Planet. During her years at Biodiversity Project, Elder was an active participant in the Wisconsin Academy’s landmark Leopold Legacy Conference and Waters of Wisconsin Conference. She also served as advisor to U.S. In the World—an initiative of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund to build a broad, bipartisan constituency for pragmatic, principled, effective and cooperative U.S. global engagement.

Since 2005, Elder has led a consulting group that provides services to nonprofits and public agencies, with a focus on policy analysis, strategic communications, program planning and organizational coaching. Major projects included serving as a lead writer-researcher for the Presidential Climate Action Plan (under the auspices of the University of Colorado-Denver School of Public Affairs), and several projects related to advancing the goals of the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the U.S.-Canada Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.

Elder has also been actively involved in supporting Wisconsin arts, serving as an early member of the Friends of American Player’s Theater—a group that banded together to prevent the Theater’s closure in the 1980s. More recently she served as the founding board president for Madison’s new Forward Theater Company, and continues to serve on its board.

Elder holds a BA in Communications from Michigan State University, and a MS in Land Resources from the University of Wisconsin. and her family have lived in Madison, Wisconsin, for more than 30 years

Jane Elder’s complete biography and contact information can be found here: http://www.wisconsinacademy.org/contributor/jane-elder-0

About the Wisconsin Academy

Founded in 1870, the nonprofit Wisconsin Academy applies the sciences, arts, and letters to bring context, civilized discussion, and meaningful action to the most important issues and ideas of today. We create spaces—public forums, art galleries, publications—where citizens join together to examine the challenges of our times, suggest solutions, and look at the world in new ways. We celebrate and preserve Wisconsin’s human, cultural, and natural resources. In this way the Wisconsin Academy connects people and ideas for a better Wisconsin. For information on our programs and events, or to become a member of the Wisconsin Academy, visit wisconsinacademy.org .