I’ve got some news. In a few days, I’ll be stepping down as director of the Institute for Policy Studies. Starting May 24, our new executive director will be Tope Folarin.

Tope knows IPS well. He first joined us as a yearlong Newman Fellow in 2010 before joining our board in 2014. Since 2017, he’s been our board chair.

Over these years, Tope has established himself as a gifted leader and communicator. He’s worked at the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board and served as vice president for storytelling at the non-profit Local Initiatives Support Corporation, one of the country’s largest neighborhood reinvestment organizations.

Meanwhile, he’s built a brilliant career as a writer. The son of Nigerian immigrants, a graduate of Morehouse College, and a Rhodes Scholar, Tope’s thoughtful fiction about race, identity, and coming of age has been widely praised. His debut novel, A Particular Kind of Black Man, won the prestigious Whiting Award for fiction.

“At IPS,” Tope promises, “I will work every day to uplift and honor all who are working relentlessly to make the world a more just and equitable place.”

I can think of no one who can better build upon IPS’s proud history of working with dynamic social movements. Our allies agree.

“We have had an important partnership with the Institute for Policy Studies,” said the Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, national co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign and director of the Kairos Center. “We look forward to working with Tope.”

“IPS plays an indispensable leadership role in putting together the research, policies, and coalitions necessary to enact transformative change,” adds Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. “I look forward to having Tope on board in the pivotal months ahead.”

When Tope transitions into his role as executive director, our longtime ally Sarita Gupta, a program director at the Ford Foundation and former director of Jobs With Justice, will take over as the interim board chair of IPS.

As for me, after 21 years as director, I’ll be staying on as a senior adviser at IPS.

My wife Robin Broad and I recently published our book The Water Defenders (Beacon Press) about the brave water protectors of El Salvador. I’m looking forward to rededicating myself to our work with the Progressive Caucus Center, the Poor People’s Campaign, and our partners in Latin America.

We’ll have much more to say about Tope in the coming weeks, and we’ll be excited for him to introduce himself to you soon. In the meantime, you can watch Tope speak at OZY Fest on May 15, where he’ll be talking about historically Black colleges and universities.

Thank you for all your support over these years. We’ve done so much together. And I couldn’t be happier about where we’re going.

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