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Wisconsin Watch, a statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to producing high-quality, high-impact journalism across Wisconsin, is seeking a Chief Executive Officer to lead the organization’s next stage of growth. The successful candidate will have passion for independent journalism’s critical role in a healthy democracy, executive leadership experience, demonstrated fundraising ability for a mission-driven organization, and strong perspective on leading an organization committed to diversity, equity and inclusion.

‍Leading this organization will place the successful candidate at the forefront of a movement to further make journalism a foundational part of civic life across Wisconsin by strengthening the kind of reporting that holds power to account and truly addresses the information needs of communities.

Organization Overview

Wisconsin Watch is an independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that reports on government accountability and quality of life issues, including criminal and racial justice, education, health, the economy and environment.

We dig into under-covered issues, document inequitable and failing systems, do meaningful data analysis and put our findings into regional and national contexts and explore potential solutions. We aim to spark change that improves people’s lives and keeps the powerful accountable Every investigation is meticulously fact-checked to ensure that our reporting is accurate, fair and in context.

We also train the next generation of journalists and news entrepreneurs through workshops, internships, and fellowships. We collaborate with students, journalism classes and other newsrooms. And we share information about journalistic practices, ethics and impact with the public.

We believe in collaborating with rather than competing against other news outlets as we strive to build a better and more sustainable news ecosystem. We push the traditional boundaries of investigative reporting in search of better ways of connecting with and serving the public.

Wisconsin Watch approaches its work through these key strategies:

  • Producing independent journalism that is supported by authentic documents and data and protects the vulnerable, exposes wrongdoing, and explores solutions.
  • Supporting the news ecosystem by collaborating with others to close coverage gaps, share content, and make more local journalism available to all Wisconsinites who need it. Working closely and effectively with other media leaders is an essential component of this role.
  • Building a movement to strengthen local news in partnership with civic and community leaders and universities and train the next generation of journalists.
  • Embracing anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusiveness in all of our journalism and operations.

Our most recent impact report can be found on our website.

News stories produced by Wisconsin Watch are free to access and are available for republishing with credit to Wisconsin Watch, which works in partnership with a growing list of outlets to increase the volume of relevant, original local reporting available to all residents.

The Role

The CEO will lead strategic planning, coordinate the organization’s fundraising efforts across a diverse mix of revenue streams, and oversee the financial, human resources, and administrative infrastructure to support fast-paced growth while cultivating an equitable organizational culture. As a champion of the editorial team (which will report to the CEO), the CEO will be an advocate for the newsroom. As director of the business team, the CEO will maintain relationships with funders and sponsors while protecting the independence of the editorial staff.

Responsibilities & Priorities

Strategic vision

  • Work with the organization’s board, editorial, and business leaders to develop a multi-year strategic plan.
  • Advocate relentlessly for the organization and its mission in venues across the state and nation.
  • Initiate a brand strategy to bring awareness to the organization’s vision and increase its audience.
  • Ensure that diversity, equity, and inclusion remain key parts of the organization’s framework, particular in the regarding hiring, retention, compensation, and editorial coverage.
  • Expand on a culture of innovation and collaboration between internal and external stakeholders.
  • Lead and inspire staff to meet the goals of the organization’s strategic vision while also supporting the needs of the communities they serve.
  • Support editorial leaders in the implementation and management of daily newsroom operations that produce strong, community-oriented accountability journalism.
  • Create an environment where editorial leaders are encouraged to produce culturally relevant narratives to amplify the voices and lived experiences of traditionally underserved and misrepresented communities.
  • Lead editors to produce news coverage that centers on the perspectives and concerns of culturally diverse communities impacted by the subject matter.
  • Work with editorial leaders to build new products that will enhance Wisconsin Watch’s role as the leading statewide nonprofit news organization.

General management

  • Ensure the organization’s day-to-day operations and programs are professionally and efficiently administered, holding the organization to the highest levels of transparency, accountability, and consistency; set benchmarks for program spending and delivery without losing commitment to the communities being served.
  • Develop, manage, and provide oversight of the organization’s operating budget; ensure that financial systems, budgets, and planning strategies accurately reflect the financial realities of the organization; achieve ambitious but realistic and attainable financial projections and ensure fiscal stability.
  • Provide oversight of systems for measuring and evaluating the organization’s progress and success (as well as the progress and success of team members); track and disseminate information about impact internally, to funders and to partners.
  • Provide oversight of core administrative functions including HR, finance, development and marketing.
  • Manage compliance for all grants and contracts including public and private funders and regulatory bodies.
  • Ensure the organization’s diversity, equity, and inclusion commitment and programming spans across all levels of program, staff development and operations.

Fundraising and revenue

  • Develop and implement a long-term funding and sustainability plan for the organization.
  • Manage the organization’s fundraising pipeline, including funding from foundations, major donors, underwriters, and corporate sponsors.
  • Build and oversee a development team, and coordinate with the editorial team as necessary to galvanize funding support.
  • Personally cultivate and solicit new donors and maintain active partnerships with all of the organization’s funders.
  • Explore and strategically deploy opportunities for new revenue streams, including sponsorships, appropriate advertising, events, and membership, to diversify revenue and protect the independence of the newsroom.
  • Implement best practices in growth management including the development of financial models for new initiatives and newsroom expansion plans.

Board relations and development

  • Serve as a contact for the organization with its board of directors and be evaluated by benchmarks created by the board.
  • Engage and update the board of directors on matters related to revenue and operations; in partnership with the editorial leadership, consistently update the board on relevant progress and impact.
  • Partner with the board to recruit new board members, including members that reflect the diversity of the populations served.
  • Partner with the editorial leadership and board on issues related to strategic planning.

You’re a good fit if…

  • You’re passionate about independent, nonprofit investigative journalism and serving the information needs of Wisconsin residents.
  • You have executive management experience, including managing revenue and expenses and reporting to and working with a strong board.
  • You prioritize and have a track record of building an equitable and inclusive organizational culture.
  • You have a proven track record of fundraising for fast-growing organizations or programs.
  • You have a proven track record of attracting, retaining, and evaluating top talent.
  • You are the kind of leader who brings teams together, fosters a collaborative, high-trust work environment, and motivates people to work toward a common goal.
  • You believe that an independent free press is crucial to a local community’s civic engagement and you are deeply committed to journalism values and ethics.
  • You’re committed to learning and inspiring others around you to do the same.

Location: Madison or Milwaukee

Salary: $115,000 – $135,000

Benefits: Generous vacation (five weeks) plus holiday time (six days of your choosing), paid sick days, 12 weeks paid family and caregiver leave, subsidized medical and dental premiums, vision coverage, short term & long term disability, on-demand telehealth, $300/year transportation allowance and self-funded 403(b) retirement plan.

To apply: Please submit a PDF of your resume and answer some brief questions in this application form.

Wisconsin Watch embraces anti-racism, diversity and inclusiveness in its journalism, training activities, hiring practices and workplace operations. The complex issues we face as a society require respect for different viewpoints. Race, class, generation, gender and geography all affect point of view. We especially encourage members of traditionally underrepresented communities to apply, including women, people of color, LGBTQ+ people and people with disabilities.

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The byline "Wisconsin Watch" represents members of the Wisconsin Watch editorial and business staff.