Employment opportunities

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Holy Wisdom Monastery is Seeking an Executive Director

Holy Wisdom Monastery is a monastery of Benedictine women and a “community of communities,” whose mission is to weave prayer, hospitality, justice and care for the earth into a shared way of life. Holy Wisdom is the first ecumenical Benedictine community in the United States. The mission has evolved since the sisters were called to start a high school for girls in 1953. In 2023, we celebrate 70 years of the sisters’ service to the community and the world. Holy Wisdom Monastery is a nonprofit organization and 501c3 public charity with an annual operating budget of $2.2 million and a team of 25 coworkers.

In addition to being home to the monastic community of sisters, Holy Wisdom Monastery:

  • Includes Sunday Assembly, a welcoming, diverse and ecumenical worship community of several hundred members; the Oblates of Holy Wisdom Monastery, an intentional ecumenical community of over 160 adults who live out Benedictine spirituality in their daily lives; the Friends of Wisdom Prairie, more than 175 members who serve as ambassadors for the more than 130 acres of restored prairie, oak savanna, woodlands and a glacial lake; and the Center for Clergy Renewal, which offers opportunities for pastors to experience contemplative renewal. More than 70 pastors have participated over the past five years.
  • Offers Benedictine hospitality that embraces young families, longtime members and LGBTQIA+ communities, welcoming thousands of individual and group retreatants each year to share solitude, prayer, meals, conversation and walks on the prairie.
  • Invites the wider community to learn and experience Benedictine spirituality, offering programs on topics such as contemplative ecology, and immersion experiences such as Summer Stewards and Deep Breath.
  • Lives out both practical and spiritual aspects of our commitment to care for the earth, evidenced in our platinum LEED-certified monastery building, the restoration of the native prairie and oak savanna and our preservation of Native American effigy mounds.

Holy Wisdom Monastery has big questions and big ambitions. What does it mean to be a “human, human being?” To be a life-giving organization for all our communities, young families through long-time members? How can we draw on contemplative practices and incorporate hands-on engagement to help individuals, communities and all creatures flourish? We believe these are urgent questions – and we believe the world can’t wait.

Holy Wisdom Monastery needs and welcomes a great Executive Director. Our achievements to date are due to the collective work of our amazing Benedictine sisters, coworkers, volunteers and our committed communities. Now, we are looking for a principled colleague with an entrepreneurial spirit, a creative mindset, strong business acumen and a kind heart to lead the operations of Holy Wisdom Monastery and galvanize support for our unique and remarkable mission.

If our vision, approach and promise excite you as much as they do us, we welcome your application.

Principal Job Duties & Responsibilities Include:

Governance and Leadership

  1. Facilitates Effective Board Governance: Holy Wisdom Monastery is governed by a Board of Directors. The Executive Director serves as the organization’s chief executive officer and supports and reports to the Board, which has ultimate responsibility for setting the direction and evaluating the success of the organization.
  2. Leads Holy Wisdom Monastery’s Team of Coworkers to Operational Success: The Executive Director is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Monastery.
  3. Provides Forward-looking Vision: The Executive Director develops multi-year action plans for all operations, articulating goals, objectives and associated measures of success, consistent with budgetary planning and the policy directives established by the Board.

Communications and Marketing

  1. Represents the Monastery to the World: Living out our value of hospitality, Holy Wisdom Monastery engages and welcomes relationships with the wider community. The Executive Director is the primary liaison between the Monastery and civic groups, partner organizations and external stakeholders. The Executive Director also ensures that an optimal level of marketing and communication exists to promote the activities and services of Holy Wisdom Monastery.
  2. Builds Community within the Monastery: The Executive Directory ensures that meaningful and effective communication exists within and among the Monastery’s community of communities to promote organizational cohesiveness and enable successful Board governance, operations and volunteer engagement. The Executive Director embodies and actively promotes the mission, vision and values of Holy Wisdom Monastery to coworkers, guests and stakeholders.
  3. Expands Community beyond the Monastery: The Executive Director works with coworkers to remove barriers to accessing the gifts of the Monastery, e.g., enhancing streamed offerings and meeting services and expanding web-based prayer and study experiences.

Mission Advancement

  1. Develops and Implements Plans to Sustain Holy Wisdom Monastery: The Executive Director ensures the creation and implementation of an advancement plan to help meet the Monastery’s financial and budgetary goals. The plan includes strategies for cultivating major gifts, annual giving and planned giving, as well as benchmarks for success.
  2. Cultivates Generosity: The Executive Director works with advancement staff to lead advancement efforts, personally cultivating and soliciting donors, supervising coworkers and evaluating the implementation of fundraising plans and policies.


  1. Leads Budgeting: The Executive Director demonstrates a keen understanding of what it takes to operate within budgetary constraints. Working with accounting staff and committees, the Executive Director prepares an annual budget for presentation to the Board.
  2. Stewards the Monastery’s Resources: The Executive Director ensures that budgetary guidelines are met in the immediate term, and elevates any significant budgetary concerns to the Board.
  3. Engages in Financial Planning: The Executive Director, with the Board, engages in long-term financial planning, including identifying and budgeting for future capital expenses.

Human Resources

  1. Maintains a Healthy and Effective Workplace: The Executive Director maintains policies and procedures for the hiring, orientation, professional development, performance evaluation and termination of coworkers.
  2. Cultivates a Team of Leaders: The Executive Director creates a climate that attracts, keeps and motivates top-quality people – both professionals and volunteers.
  3. Ensures a Fair and Equitable Workplace: With the Director of Operations, the Executive Director maintains the salary and benefits package for all coworkers. The Executive Director also ensures legal hiring and termination processes for all coworkers in collaboration with the Monastery’s payroll company.

Land Stewardship

  1. Cares for the Land: The Executive Director collaborates with the Director of Land Management to ensure the implementation of the master plan for land management.
  2. Embraces the Needs and Opportunities for Environmental Stewardship: The Executive Director embraces the land as a spiritual resource and collaborates with coworkers to create new immersion experiences and engagement activities to increase visibility of and access to the Monastery’s outdoor spaces.

Position Qualifications:

  • Ability and disposition to listen with humility, and to engage with coworkers in interpreting the Monastery’s mission, vision, and values in ways that support the organization’s sense of purpose and direction during this transitional time.
  • Knowledge of and respect for the traditions and practices of monastic life and Benedictine spirituality, and an appreciation of the gifts of ecumenism in a diverse community.
  • Demonstrated ability to communicate effectively in an organizational leadership role, notably, the ability to reach and connect people of different ages, from different cultures, backgrounds and perspectives.
  • A minimum of five years of successful experience leading and supervising an organization or department.
  • A degree in business administration or management or a similar field, or proven acquisition of an equivalent level of leadership knowledge and understanding through years of effective organizational personnel and financial management.
  • Finally, Holy Wisdom Monastery is looking for an Executive Director who is able to: develop an astute understanding of coworkers’ and stakeholders’ needs and motivations – and then engage them by balancing empathy and insight with an unrelenting focus on results; be comfortable with ambiguity and disagreement; adapt proactively to situations that are “not in the playbook;” recognize that setbacks are integral to change and treat them as opportunities to learn.

Salary Range and Benefits:

  • $90,000 – $105,000 annually, based on experience and qualifications
  • Our exceptional benefits include robust health, dental and vision plans; generous paid time off; life, short-term and long-term disability insurance; a 401k plan, and approved job-related ongoing education reimbursement.

How to Apply:

Please send a cover letter, a resume, a writing sample, and three professional references to Car McGinley, Interim CEO, at cmcginley@holywisdommonastery.org.

In your cover letter, please speak to what draws you to this position, how you demonstrate the required qualifications, and why you believe you would be an outstanding leader and team member at Holy Wisdom Monastery.

Applications will be accepted until we fill the position.

Holy Wisdom Monastery is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, sex, age, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, status as a veteran and basis of disability or any other federal, state or local protected class. We encourage BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ persons to apply.

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Kitchen Food Prep Helper

Do you want to work for a retreat center that has been featured in The Washington Post and Chicago Tribune? Holy Wisdom Monastery is looking for people to help our chefs with food preparation for our groups and retreat guests. Duties include assisting chef with food preparation, table set-up and clean up.  

Candidates must be dependable, have reliable transportation, and have at least basic knowledge of food preparation/clean up safety and techniques. 

Pay for the position is $15/hour and kitchen help is generally needed two to three times per week for four to eight hours. 

Questions or interest can be directed to Toby Grabs at 608-836-1631 x 108 or tgrabs@holywisdommonastery.org. 

Holy Wisdom Monastery, located in Middleton and overlooking Lake Mendota, is a non-denominational Christian spirituality center with an overnight retreat and meeting facility. The campus, situated on 130 acres of rolling prairie and woods, includes a lake, nature trails and two buildings used by groups for meeting space, overnight accommodations and meals. 

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Volunteer at the Monastery

Volunteers are always needed at Holy Wisdom Monastery. Click here to learn more.