Benedictine Women of Madison Board of Directors

The Benedictine Women of Madison Board of Directors are volunteers who help lead Holy Wisdom Monastery by focusing on the larger picture and the ends of the organization.

In 2020 the Board conducted a “Listen, Imagine, Create” process which generated input from hundreds of stakeholders who identified strengths and possible opportunities for the ideal future of Holy Wisdom Monastery and the Community of Communities.

We are grateful for the dedication of the following members:

Bob Dinndorf

Bob Dinndorf worked as Executive Director of the Madison College Foundation from 1995 until retirement in 2019 at which time he joined the Holy Wisdom Monastery advancement staff as Director of Philanthropy; he retired as a staff member in 2021 at which time he was elected to the Benedictine Women of Madison Board of Directors.

Bob served as Director of Alumni Relations as St. Cloud State University, Minnesota prior to moving to Madison.  After graduating from Saint John’s University (Collegeville, MN), his career began as band director and music teacher at Saint John’s Preparatory School followed by appointment as Director of Admissions and Development at the Prep School.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from St. John’s University (MN) and the MBA from St. Cloud State University.  Several musical experiences are among his community activities. In Madison he continues to be active as a member of the Madison Symphony board, the Symphony and Madison Opera Choruses, and the Rotary Club of Madison. He has been president of the Rotary Club and a member of its foundation board. He has also served on the Edgewood High School Board of Directors and other community organizations.

Paula, his wife, and Bob value the education they received from the Benedictine monks and sisters at Saint Johns and the College of Saint Benedict. This background contributed to their joining Holy Wisdom Monastery’s Sunday Assembly since 2017. They have two grown children plus three growing grandchildren: Grace, Luke and Maya.

Roberta Felker

Roberta Felker grew up in a family of teachers in Marshfield, a small town in central Wisconsin.  To teach, to learn – ah, that was the thing.  And to pursue the mysterious, ragged, and intense vocation of teaching – that was the only thing.  Throughout over four decades as a teacher and administrator in public and Catholic schools and universities, this vision of education as calling and challenge, alive and elusive, infectious and engaging, has shaped her life.

In addition to her teaching and administrative work, Roberta’s other professional experiences include a National Policy Fellowship with George Washington University; the founding of Women’s Schools Together, a national coalition of Catholic women’s high schools; and research as a National Humanities Fellow on the legacy of women’s religious orders for the education of young women.  She was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship and mentored teachers at the Ankara University Developing Foundation School in Ankara, Turkey, and named a Fulbright Memorial Fund Scholar to study in Japan.  Roberta holds a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  She is proud that her son, Luke, inherited the family passion and is a school leader in San Francisco.

Roberta has been a member of Sunday Assembly since 1997 and is a member of the Monastery’s 2002 oblate class. A regular homilist for Sunday Assembly, her homilies draw on her family’s theology of service, an addiction to poetry, and an appreciation for the contradictions and questions in the lectionary readings.

Colleen Hartung,
Board Chair

Colleen Hartung is the current chair of the board at Holy Wisdom Monastery.  She joined the Sunday Assembly along with her family in 2004.  Colleen is currently a homilist and works with Kids On The Prairie.  In the past, Colleen has facilitated the ministry to families and children program, worked in the kitchen, on the Sunday Assembly Council, Liturgy Committee and more.  She holds a Ph.D. in Theology and Ethics from Chicago Theological Seminary.  She has served as a spiritual guide for more than 15 years, is currently the chair of the 1000 Women in Religion Wikipedia Project and series editor of Atla’s Women in Religion series.

Neil Heskin

Neil Heskin is pleased to be a member of the Board of Directors of Holy Wisdom. He is a member of the Sunday Assembly and also serves on the Capital Committee and the Finance Committee.

Neil’s wife, Kathy, and he have been married 53 years. They have three sons, three wonderful daughters-in-law and seven grandchildren. Kathy and Neil met at Georgetown University where he earned a B S in Accounting and played on the varsity basketball team.

He earned his CPA certificate when he worked for Price Waterhouse as an auditor. For the next 10 years, he worked as controller for two manufacturing companies. Kathy and Neil started, owned & operated a Christian Bookstore for 20 years in Illinois. After this, he spent 10 years as Business Manager for two Catholic Churches in suburban Chicago.

Neil has a Master’s in Pastoral Studies from Loyola University of Chicago. Neil and Kathy moved to Lodi seven years ago and in October 2020, they moved to Middleton. They are both very excited to be closer to Holy Wisdom and communities.

Erin Trondson,
Executive Director

Erin R Trondson has enjoyed being a part of the Holy Wisdom Monastery community as a retreatant for years, visiting the Retreat and Guest House as a poet and writer. Currently she serves as the Executive Director of Holy Wisdom Monastery. Erin comes from the world of leadership, education and non-profit management.

For more than 20 years she served as the Executive Director of Woodland Montessori School and more recently as a consultant for nonprofit leaders and directors. Erin also has experience in higher education as both faculty and as a project/grant manager.

The important values of Benedictine spirituality resonate deeply with Erin, including the call to live simply, with humility, in community, to strive for justice and to welcome everyone. She has found great value in retreating and contemplating through her experience at Holy Wisdom over the years, and she is thrilled to be able to advance the important mission and work of this cherished organization.

Outside of work Erin can be found with her family on the east side of Madison, likely reading poetry or enjoying good food with her husband and three children.

Sister Lynne Smith

Sister Lynne Smith became the first Protestant member in the Benedictine Women of Madison community in 2000. Prior to joining she was an ordained Presbyterian pastor, serving congregations in Iowa and Kansas for 15 years. Sister Lynne is currently the Director of Monastic Ritual & Formation Team Coordinator at Holy Wisdom Monastery.

Sister Mary David Walgenbach

Sister Mary David Walgenbach is the prioress of Benedictine Women of Madison at Holy Wisdom Monastery.  From early on, Sister Mary David took an active role in the formation of an inclusive ecumenical community at Holy Wisdom Monastery.  She co-founded the Community of Benedict and the monastery’s Oblate Community, setting a path toward the dream of an ecumenical sisters’ community that became a reality in 2006.

Jim Welsh,
Board Vice Chair

Jim Welsh is the Executive Director of Groundswell Conservancy and has been instrumental in the permanent protection of many of the most loved and valued places in south central Wisconsin. During Jim’s successful tenure over the past 17 years, Groundswell has achieved national accreditation and has conserved 13,000 acres of farms, forests, prairies, and wetlands in and around Dane County. Under Jim’s leadership, Groundswell has preserved land in rural, agricultural, and urban environments, a testament to his belief that everyone deserves access to nature and open spaces.

In addition to his success in expanding conservation areas, protecting new lands and conserving historical areas, Jim has worked with community members to provide equitable access to land and nature, including expanding the outdoor classroom at Lake View Elementary School in Madison and protecting land for use by immigrant farmers and farmers of color.

Jim has devoted his professional career to land conservation and has worked in Wisconsin, California, Michigan, and Washington, DC with leading conservation groups such as The Nature Conservancy, the Alaska Coalition, and National Parks and Conservation Association.

Jim serves on the board of Holy Wisdom Monastery and is a past community board member of Clean Lakes Alliance. He has served on the Dane County Zoning & Land Regulation Farmland Preservation Plan Subcommittee and the Dane County Task Force for the Prioritized Revision of Chapter 10 Zoning Ordinance.

Jim has master’s degrees in ecological restoration from the University of Wisconsin and natural resources policy from the University of Michigan.

Community Leadership

Leadership Circle

Jane Ahlstrom
Caroll Bross
Ellen Joyce, Facilitator
Melissa Markquart
David McKee, Candidate Circle
Sue Pearson
Pam Shellburg, Ex-officio

Sunday Assembly

Charles Bradley
Mike Crawford
Bob Dinndorf
Lara Dulin
Ann FitzGerald
Bill Frederick
Sister Lynne Smith
Michael Stevens
Michael Stier
Bob Weiss
Joyce Wodka, Chair

Friends of Wisdom Prairie Council

Amy Alstad
Greg Armstrong
Anne Basken
Lisa Gaumnitz
David Hix
Drew Howick, President
Emma Kloes
Sue Knaack
Terrill Knaack
David Liebl
Jan Lottig
Sue Lueloff
Sylvia Marek
Julie Melton
Michael Shinners
Paul Slota
Judy Troia
Valerie Vervoort
Kathleen Wessels, Secretary

Finance Committee

Neil Heskin, Chair
Car McGinley
Mary Pertzborn
Erin Trondson
Sister Mary David Walgenbach
Mary Zaborski

Capital Improvement Committee

Catherine Cruickshank, Chair
Toby Grabs
Neil Heskin
Bill Preboski
Mike Stier
Erin Trondson
Mary David Walgenbach

Land Management Advisory Council

Amy Alstad
David Cordray
Toby Grabs
Lars Higdon
Drew Howick
Darcy Kind
Sue Knaack
Julie Loehrl
Dean Proctor
Erin Trondson
Sister Mary David Walgenbach

Monastery Leadership Team

Amy Alstad
Sister Barbara Dannhausen
Lara Dulin Perez
Nancy Enderle
Bill Frederick
Toby Grabs
Car McGinley
Janet Neurauter
Mary Pertzborn
Pam Shellberg
Sister Lynne Smith
Erin Trondson, Chair

Outdoor Space Design Team

Amy Alstad, Chair
Greg Armstrong
Catherine Cruickshank
Julie Loehrl
Dean Proctor