WASHINGTON (AP) — Benjamin Jealous, the president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said Sunday that he plans to step down at the end of the year.
The Baltimore-based NAACP is the nation's largest civil rights organization. When Jealous was hired as its president in 2008 at age 35, he became the youngest leader in the group's history. Over the past five years, the group said its rosters of online activists and donors have grown tremendously.
In a written statement Sunday, Jealous, 40, said he plans to pursue teaching at a university and wants to spend time with his young family.
"The NAACP has always been the largest civil rights organization in the streets, and today it is also the largest civil rights organization online, on mobile and at the ballot box too," Jealous said. "I am proud to leave the association financially sound, sustainable, focused, and more powerful than ever."
Jealous plans to step down on Dec. 31. His departure plans were first reported by USA Today.
Jealous told the newspaper he also plans to start a political action committee to raise money to elect diverse progressive candidates to public office, though not necessarily only Democrats. During President Barack Obama's first campaign, Jealous said he teamed with others to create a fundraising group that raised $10 million to help elect the first black president.
Jealous is credited with improving the NAACP's finances and donor base over the past five years and for improving its outreach. The group said its donors have increased from 16,000 people giving each year to more than 132,000.
During his tenure, the NAACP also has embraced gay marriage rights in a historic vote to endorse same-sex marriage in May 2012. "Civil marriage is a civil right and a matter of civil law," the group said, citing the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause.