Jack Burch, executive director of the Community Action Council, said Tuesday that he will retire in June.
Burch, 67, said a good executive "knows you should retire before you need to retire."
"I value this organization very much and I wanted to time things so that the board had time to find a new person," he said.
Burch said he will retire June 30, 2013. He said there would be a national search for a new executive director, and Burch expects to help facilitate a smooth transition.
The council, which serves Fayette, Bourbon, Harrison and Nicholas counties, is a private, non-profit organization that combats poverty by offering opportunities for low-income people to achieve self-sufficiency and reach their full potential.
Its $26 million annual budget comes from local, state federal and private money, Burch said.
Burch has been the executive director for 33 years.
The agency was founded in 1965 to study poverty in the community and work toward a solution. Burch said he was hired in 1979 to restore the agency after the federal government had shut down the Community Action Council for mismanagement.
"The board hired me to address the problems the federal government had found and get us back open," said Burch.
Currently, he said, the Community Action Council is one of 10 agencies out of 1,000 nationwide that has been designated a Community Action Program of Excellence.
In a Nov. 26 letter to Gentry C. LaRue, chairperson of the agency's Board of Directors, Burch said he wanted to travel more and spend more time with his family, including his son Jeb Burch, who is the men's soccer coach at Centre College.
But he said he was leaving with mixed feelings because the community action movement had been part of his life since he was in his teens.
"I was fortunate to grow up with opportunities to experience and participate in the civil rights movement and its offspring, the community action movement, which was created by the Economic Opportunity Grant of 1964," Burch said in the letter.
"Community action is very much a part of me. I believe deeply in its values and philosophy."
Mayor Jim Gray said that "Jack Burch has been our community's conscience, working tirelessly on behalf of those in our city who need help with life's most basic needs. He has been their voice and their uncompromising advocate."