Don Ottenhoff, Executive Director of the Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research, has announced his intention to retire after leading the organization for the past 16 years. Ottenhoff will continue in his position until fall 2021 to ensure time for a smooth leadership transition.
“Since 2004, Don has creatively developed the Collegeville Institute’s programming in exciting new ways,” said Bill Cahoy, Collegeville Institute Board Chair. “He has brought fresh ideas to our historic interreligious work and advanced the Collegeville Institute’s mission to serve the church and the world in these changing times.”
According to Ottenhoff, ordained in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), “The Collegeville Institute has always been a place where people of diverse religious traditions, and no religious tradition, learn to, in Pope Francis’s words, walk together in our differences.” Ottenhoff describes his tenure as building on the Collegeville Institute’s rich and unique heritage. He expanded the international and ecumenical resident scholar program, originally founded in 1967, to include short-term stays for leaders of religious communities, and developed the cultural dimension of the organization’s mission to include poets, musicians, and other artists. He also introduced new initiatives such as workshops for writers of faith, programs fostering a deeper understanding of vocation for the Christian life, multi-religious, rural, and urban fellows programs for emerging faith leaders in Minnesota, publications such as Bearings Magazine and Bearings Online, and the Unlikely Conversations podcast, which models how people can speak to each other across various divides.
“At a time of deepening polarization in society, the Collegeville Institute’s mission to promote mutual religious understanding and respect is more needed than ever,” said Cahoy. “Don has equipped the Collegeville Institute to meet that need. He has enlarged our sense of our vocation as an organization and how we can live out our calling in a world that daily seems to surprise us in ways we couldn’t have imagined even the day before yesterday. He leaves a legacy of leadership for which we are deeply grateful.”
The board of directors will form a Search Committee and hire a consulting firm to help facilitate the process of choosing Don’s successor. In the upcoming months, a job announcement will be posted on the Collegeville Institute’s website.
For more information about the selection process, or to recommend an individual to the Search Committee, please contact the Collegeville Institute’s Director of Business Operations Elisa Schneider by phone at 320-363-3877 or by email at eschneider@CollegevilleInstitute.org.