WABASHA — National Eagle Center Executive Director Rolf Thompson has advised the Center’s Board of Directors that he will retire from the position on Jan 1, 2020.

Thompson, who will turn 67 this year, has led the popular Wabasha education and tourism destination for seven years. For the last four years he has spearheaded a major expansion plan that includes a world-class museum, additions to its education and interpretive center and the revitalization of Wabasha’s riverfront.

In May of last year, the Minnesota State Legislature granted $8 million to the city of Wabasha for the joint project.

Randy Eggenberger, former owner of Lake City-based Wild Wings and chair of the center’s board of directors said Thompson was hired in 2012 based on his successful 30-year career in nonprofit leadership.

“We were very fortunate to bring Rolf to Wabasha,” Eggenberger said. “His strong leadership was exactly what the National Eagle Center needed to achieve our immediate attendance and operating goals and position us for the major expansion that is now being planned.”

With the quiet phase of a capital campaign to raise an additional $10 million underway and an architectural pre-design project scheduled to be completed in August, Thompson felt it would be an appropriate time to move forward with long-standing retirement plans. “While this decision is a difficult one, I am confident that the National Eagle Center is well-positioned to reach its fund-raising and expansion goals,” Thompson said. “We have a strong management team and excellent Board that work very well together.”

Eggenberger said he has assembled a search committee consisting of six board members that will immediately begin the task of evaluating options and making a recommendation to the board to fill the position by the end of 2019.

“Rolf’s exemplary leadership will be missed. His tireless work has brought the National Eagle Center great success and positioned us well for an even greater future. We have big shoes to fill to be sure,” Eggenberger said.

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