Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters: Executive Director Jane Elder announces retirement

MADISON—After a decade of dedicated service, Jane Elder will be retiring as Executive Director of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters. During her tenure at the venerable nonprofit, Elder has worked tirelessly to advance the Academy’s mission to create a better world by connecting Wisconsin people and ideas. Elder will continue in her role as Executive Director until December 1, 2021, to ensure a smooth and successful transition for her successor, who has yet to be named. 
“There are so many things I love about my job and the Wisconsin Academy, so my retirement has not been an easy decision. But I am looking forward to a new chapter in life after nearly ten years at the helm of the Academy and a full career in the nonprofit sector,” says Elder. “I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to work with a remarkable staff team during my tenure, and a board eager to support our growth. I know they will continue to work to build a stronger, more resilient, and increasingly diverse and inclusive organization that can serve Wisconsin in the decades to come.”
Since joining the Academy in January of 2012, Elder has made myriad contributions that led to greater programmatic and financial resiliency for the organization. Drawing on her deep experience in environmental policy and communications, Elder brought new life to the Academy’s initiatives to engage diverse experts and stakeholders in shaping long-term strategies for Wisconsin to safeguard fresh water, and to address climate change. 
Prior to joining the Academy’s staff, Elder was an active participant in the Academy’s 1999 Leopold Legacy Conference and 2003 Waters of Wisconsin Conference. At the time, Elder was head of The Biodiversity Project, a nationwide initiative she established to raise public awareness about the value of Earth’s diverse species and habitats. When she became Executive Director in 2012, Elder was already poised to re-connect with leaders in the Academy’s environmental networks. 
Through the Academy’s renewed Waters of Wisconsin Initiative between 2012 and 2016, Elder led the development of a statewide leadership network that produced a major report on progress and setbacks in Wisconsin water protection since the 2003 conference. She launched the Academy’s Climate & Energy Initiative in 2012—which is still underway today—and was instrumental in the creation of a “road map” of specific recommendations for Wisconsin to address climate change and support energy choices that reduce carbon. The Academy’s work in these Wisconsin Strategy Initiatives continues to inform public policy and practices at the local, state, and regional level.
“Jane Elder has done an outstanding job leading the Academy over the past decade,” says Tom Luljak, President of the Wisconsin Academy Board and Vice Chancellor for University Relations & Communications at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. “Under Jane’s direction, the Academy has brought together citizens from across the state to address some of the biggest environmental and civic challenges facing Wisconsin today. During the past year Jane’s strong leadership and careful management of resources have helped the Academy to emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic well positioned to deliver the programming that makes the Academy a trusted source of knowledge and learning for the people of Wisconsin. We on the Academy Board wish Jane the very best as she begins the next chapter in her life.”
In the coming weeks, an Academy Board committee under Luljak’s leadership will undertake the search process for a new Academy Executive Director, with the hope of securing a suitable candidate by the time of Elder’s retirement.