Washington Post President Steve Hills will leave the company at year-end. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

After a very successful 28-year career at The Washington Post, it was announced today that President and General Manager Stephen P. Hills has decided to leave the company at year-end. He will continue his long-tenured relationship with The Post even after his December 31, 2015 departure date, advising The Post on key strategic issues.

‘The decision to leave The Washington Post was a very difficult one,” said Hills. “It has been an honor to help guide this remarkable institution for all these years. But, at this point in my career, I decided that I want to embark on a new mission while I still have the time and energy to do so. So, earlier this year I informed Fred Ryan that I wanted to move on. He and I developed a smooth transition plan that lasts through the end of this year.”

“I want to thank Steve for his extraordinary leadership,” said Frederick J. Ryan Jr., publisher and CEO of The Washington Post. “The Post has enjoyed great success, and we owe Steve a huge debt of gratitude for the substantial role he played in creating that success. We were fortunate to have had so many years of extraordinary leadership from one of the finest executives the newspaper industry has known, and we are very glad that he has agreed to continue advising us going forward. Though my initial response when Steve informed me of his plans was to attempt to convince him to stay at the Post, I have come to accept and respect his decision to leave a company that has meant so much to him over the course of a long and distinguished career. We will miss his daily presence and guidance, and we wish him all the best.”

Hills is looking forward to exploring a range of new opportunities, including helping future business leaders as the founding director, Georgetown University Law Center Business Program, where – starting in January – he will be creating a curriculum and leading the development of courses to teach law students the fundamentals of business.

With Hills’s departure, the executive team will take on additional responsibilities, playing broader roles in the organization. Certain operational duties will be moved under CFO Steve Gibson, whose title will be expanded to include vice president, finance and operations. The role of president and general manager will not be filled.

“Steve and I worked closely to determine the right structure going forward,” Ryan said. “In light of Steve’s unique role, and the deep bench of talent currently in place at The Post, we agreed this was the best path forward.”

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Publisher Frederick J. Ryan sent the following note to employees earlier today:

Dear Washington Post Colleagues,

This morning, Steve Hills officially informed the team at our weekly vice presidents’ meeting of his plans to leave The Post at the end of 2015. As significant as this news is, for some of us it did not come as a surprise. Steve told me earlier this year that he planned to leave The Post at year end. My initial response was to attempt to convince him to remain in the role he performs so well at an institution he has served with such devotion. After many conversations with Steve, however, it became clear that he is at a unique point in his life and his career, with a multitude of new and unique opportunities available to him. I have come to accept and respect his decision to leave a company that has meant so much to him over the course of a long and distinguished career.

Even though I have known for some time that this announcement would come, it does not make it any easier. For nearly twenty-eight years, Steve has been a very important leader and The Post is all the better for his years of devotion and service. No one knows The Post better than Steve. His unique perspective, his keen analytical skills and inspired leadership will be truly missed.

The good news for us is that he will remain actively engaged at his normal 110% level until he wraps things up at year end. Beyond that, I am especially pleased that The Post will continue to benefit from his guidance and solid judgment as he has agreed to continue to serve as an advisor to The Post as he pursues his next ventures.

Whether you are one of the many Post veterans that Steve has recruited over the years, or a recent addition such as myself, Steve has been an unfailing source of solid advice, sound judgment and good character.

Over these past few months, Steve and I have had the opportunity to thoughtfully explore how to plan an orderly transition and how to best structure The Post leadership team following his departure.

The Post is fortunate to have so many incredibly talented executives in leadership positions across the company. Many were hired by Steve over the years and others were great recent additions to the team. In light of the unique role Steve has filled and the deep bench of talent currently in place at The Post, I’ve decided not to fill the position of president and general manager. Instead, our current vice presidents will take on broader roles when Steve departs. While several of the vice presidents currently report to me directly, under the new structure I will enjoy the chance to work more closely with other members of the VP team.

One area where we feel some of Steve’s operational duties would be best assigned is under our CFO, Steve Gibson. Since joining The Post last year, Steve Gibson has skillfully taken on a variety of operational roles and has worked closely with Steve Hills on several successful initiatives. To reflect these additional duties, Steve Gibson’s title will be expanded to include vice president, finance and operations. We are grateful to Steve Gibson for taking on these additional responsibilities and know that The Post will continue to benefit from his leadership.

We will have many opportunities to celebrate Steve Hills’ professional contributions and personal friendships over the months ahead and we will make sure we do so before year end.