California Humanities announced today that its CEO Ralph Lewin will be stepping down in May. Mr. Lewin, after celebrating his sixth anniversary as the President and CEO of Cal Humanities and his twenty-second year with the organization, is leaving to pursue new career opportunities. The board of directors will work closely with Lewin during the next two months to ensure a smooth transition before he departs the organization on May 16, 2014.

On behalf of the Board of Directors, Chair Margaret Shelleda thanked Mr. Lewin for the contributions he has made during his tenure. “Ralph has served as a dynamic statewide and national leader—speaking at the White House, in the halls of academia, and at community libraries and organizations throughout California about the importance of investing in ideas, the power of history, and the way stories can improve our lives. The Board of Directors is grateful for his creativity, deep commitment, and inspiration.”

Luis Herrera, immediate past Chair of the Board, said, “I’ve had the pleasure of working with Ralph and extend, on behalf of the board, our sincere appreciation for his many years of service.  Ralph’s leadership in executing the highly successful Searching for Democracy program and planning for the next signature initiative War Comes Home, which focuses on our veterans’ experiences returning home, have helped transform Cal Humanities into a major forum for civic engagement and dialogue on relevant issues facing our state.”

Mr. Lewin also thanked the board for the opportunity to give a greater voice to the humanities in public discourse. “It has been a great honor to lead Cal Humanities, an organization that stands for the fundamental importance of ideas, imagination, and conversations that reach to the heart of the human condition. I am proud of what we have accomplished together. Among the most fulfilling aspects of my work has been the opportunity to collaborate with creative, insightful, and inspiring people across California and the nation.”

Over the last decade, Mr. Lewin has been a fierce advocate for increasing the prominence of the humanities as a foundation for shaping our national conversation. Esther Mackintosh, president of the Federation of State Humanities Councils, commented, “Ralph is a strong leader among his colleagues and a key voice in our discussions of how to extend the reach of the NEH and better serve the American people. We look forward to his continued service on our Federation board and his ongoing role as a national advocate for the humanities.”

Juan Felipe Herrera, California’s Poet Laureate, recognized Lewin’s work to help amplify the different voices of California’s diverse population. “Ralph represents the drive to attain the highest human aspirations of the people of California. I look forward to Cal Humanities continuing to work to bring all Californians into the discourse about how we can live, dream, and thrive together.”

The Board of Directors is creating a committee that will lead the search for Cal Humanities new President and CEO.

Cal Humanities is a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities that promotes the humanities in California in order to help create “a state of open mind.”