Eric Simonson has been engaged in several capacities at Spirit in the Desert over the past few years. Encouraged by his ongoing friendship with Spirit’s Faith Mentor, Jim Hanson, Eric and his wife, Michelle, met the late executive director Richard Andersen, who introduced them to the mission and vision of the retreat center’s ministry. Their lifetime connections and engagement in Lutheran congregational service sensitized them to discover and embrace the impact and value of Spirit in the Desert. From there, they began attending the weekly Wednesday afternoon contemplative service, and they volunteered in Spirit’s food service program when the crew was short-handed.
During this time, Eric sold his company, with a deep-seated openness to his next calling in life. After Richard’s untimely passing, Eric was hired to manage the food service, kitchen and dining room and, six months later was invited to serve as Operations and Finance Manager. Through these key roles, Eric embraced the opportunity to align his 35 years of business management experience with his passion for integrating Christian faith into all parts of his life.
In April of 2020, the board of directors unanimously voted to offer Eric the position of Executive Director. During most of his first year, Eric focused his attention on making the necessary changes to get through the Covid hiatus and put Spirit in a position to not only continue, but thrive in its mission and ministry.
“This is a very special place and a unique ministry and I feel extremely fortunate to be a part of it,” Eric explained. “To create an environment where people can experience healing and renewal of body, mind, and spirit is very rewarding.”
On a personal note, Eric is married to Michelle and they have twin daughters, Ashley and Nicole. They both enjoy traveling, boating, and spoiling their two grandchildren.