MSNBC will have a new president on Feb. 1, when Rashida Jones, 39, will replace longtime network head Phil Griffin.

Griffin, 64, has been with MSNBC since its launch in 1996 and became president in 2008. Cesar Conde, the chairman of the NBCUniversal News group, said in a memo to staff members on Monday afternoon that Griffin conveyed his desire to leave the network “at a time of his choosing and when he felt confident about the strength of the network he loves.”

Griffin “is as much a part of the NBC News & MSNBC family as anyone in our storied history,” Conde wrote, adding that the network is “in the best shape it has ever been.”

A person close to Griffin said the network executive has been considering the timing of his departure over the past few years.

The network will be turning a generational page when Griffin hands over the reins to Jones, an up-and-coming executive long considered a potential successor, who has overseen breaking news and major events as a chief of both daytime and weekend news programming. She will be the first Black woman to head a major cable news network. (The Wall Street Journal first reported the move.)

Conde said that Jones “has an outstanding track record and she leads with a laser-like focus and grace under pressure,” praising her management of the network’s coverage of the presidential election, the protests that stemmed from the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody and the coronavirus pandemic in the United States.

“Rashida knows and understands MSNBC, in part because it’s where she started when she first joined NBCU seven years ago,” he said in the memo, which was obtained by The Washington Post. “She knows that it is the people who work here that make it great, and she understands its culture. She also appreciates the impact and potential of the brand.”

After working for a local television station in South Carolina, Jones joined MSNBC as an executive producer in 2013, rising to the level of senior vice president before being named to the top job next year.

Under Conde, who has made staff diversity a priority, Joy Reid has been installed as the network’s 7 p.m. weeknight host, Tiffany Cross and Jonathan Capehart have been given weekend morning shows, Nicolle Wallace’s afternoon show has been doubled in length, and Alicia Menendez has been hired as a weekend news anchor.