LOS ANGELES, May 2 The international president of World Vision, the largest Christian humanitarian aid organisation, announced today that he plans to retire from his role in September 2010.
Dean Hirsch, who has served as the organisation's chief executive since 1996, said he was making the announcement now to give sufficient time for a presidential search and transition process.
"While I still love the job," Hirsch, 60, said in a letter to the World Vision International Board, "I feel it is time for a leadership change. As Ecclesiastes tells us, 'there is a time and a season for everything,' including World Vision presidents."
By 2010, Hirsch will have led the relief, development and advocacy organisation longer than anyone since Bob Pierce, who founded World Vision in 1950 to help Korean orphans.
Speaking on behalf of the organisation's 24-member governing body, WVI Board Chair Denis St-Amour praised Hirsch for "extraordinary leadership in challenging times." On Hirsch's watch, he noted that World Vision has seen its revenue grow from $550 million to $2.4 billion, has made public advocacy an integral part of its work, and mounted major campaigns to respond to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the Asian tsunami, child malnutrition and mortality, and, more recently, the adverse effects that poor communities experience from rising food prices and climate change.
St-Amour said the emphasis of the Hirsch administration on children returned World Vision to its roots and gave focus to its programmes. "Because of Dean," he said, "We are clearly Christ-centred, community-based and child-focused."
Richard E. Stearns, president and CEO of the U.S. office of World Vision, said "After more than 30 years of service, Dean Hirsch's uncompromising commitment to follow Christ and serving the poor, has left a living legacy in the changed lives of millions across the globe."
"Dean Hirsch has championed the victims of poverty and injustice in all his endeavours, whether addressing the U.N. General Assembly or addressing the parents of an infant recovering from malnutrition," Stearns said.
Hirsch has also championed working with other non-governmental organisations, UN agencies, institutions and corporations in furthering development in poor nations. He chairs the Global Movement for Children, serves on the Foundation Board of the Global Humanitarian Forum and is a regular participant at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Helping children achieve full lives has been the cornerstone of his tenure at World Vision. "Our mission is to help create a world in which no child suffers or dies for lack of food, clean water, shelter or protection from exploitation or war," Hirsch has said on numerous occasions.
Prior to his appointment as international president, Hirsch served World Vision as chief operating officer, vice president for development and vice president for relief operations. He has worked in the United States, Africa and Europe and visited virtually all of the 98 nations in which World Vision works. He joined the organisation in 1976.
Hirsch's humanitarian work has been recognised with four honorary doctorates, numerous media appearances and speaking engagements.
The WVI Board, which is charged with appointing his successor, has named five of its members to an advisory committee, which hopes to select a president-elect by September 2009 and formally install him or her at the organisation's triennial council in August 2010.
SOURCE World Vision International