Kevin Watkins, chief executive of Save the Children UK, will step down in the summer after five years in the role.
Since joining in 2016 Watkins has led the charity through what it acknowledged had been a “turbulent time”, including a Charity Commission inquiry into Save the Children’s handling of sexual harassment allegations against former senior staff, including his predecessor Justin Forsyth.
The inquiry, which was concluded last year, found “serious failings” in how the charity had handled the allegations.
Watkins, who is 66, is expected to continue working on issues that Save the Children is tackling, such as child survival and education, as well as spending more time researching and writing.
The charity said Watkins told Tsitsi Chawatama, who became chair of Save the Children in January, of his decision earlier this year and announced the move to staff today.
“We have navigated some strong financial headwinds and delivered impact for children thanks to the loyalty of our supporters, our brilliant fundraisers, our partners, and our success in diversifying income,” Watkins said.
He said in a message to staff: “Our culture is grounded in unrelenting ambition for children. But that ambition has to be underpinned by a culture of kindness towards each other, support for staff, and a willingness to challenge systemic disadvantage and discrimination.”
He told staff that it had been “a privilege to work with some of the most brilliant, committed and creative people in our sector on the defining moral challenge of our time – the defence of child rights.
“I’ve seen the impact we’ve made together – and I know Save the Children has transformed many, many lives in some of the world’s toughest environments.
“I’ll leave with many memories – some happy, many heartrending, but all of them wrapped in deep gratitude for the opportunity I have had to work with you,” he said.