Ben Jealous, the youngest ever leader of the NAACP, announced his resignation on Sunday. Jealous, whose face has become familiar from countless civil rights marches, had recently worked to protest the Zimmerman acquittal.
The 40-year-old CEO told USA TODAY that his choice to leave stems from a desire to spend less time traveling and more time with his wife and kids.
"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 in a statement to the press. "I am proud to leave the Association financially sound, sustainable, focused, and more powerful than ever. Beginning next year, I look forward to pursuing opportunities in academia to train the next generation of leaders and, of course, spending a lot more time with my young family."
Thanks to Jealous, the organization's revenue has almost doubled since 2008 (a year after he joined), and the donor base has grown from 16,422 in 2007 to 132,543 in 2012. According to the Washington Post , the organization’s e-mail list has also skyrocketed — from 174,000 in 2007 to 1.3 million today. (Click here for a fun infographic of the organization's growth.)
"Truly we were surprised," said NAACP board chairwoman Roslyn Brock on hearing the news. "We're disappointed that he's leaving at this time. He's five years in, and we were expecting him to be with us seven years, based on our agreement with him."
But she also added: "We looked back over the five years. He has made a sacrifice. But he's left us in a place with a five-year strategic plan."
And there's a chance that part of that plan may be to have the next chief of the 104-year-old organization be a woman.
"I'm the 17th president of the NAACP and the 17th man," Jealous said. "I do expect that the next president of the NAACP will be different in some way."