Rich Stearns, president of Federal Way-based international nonprofit World Vision, has announced his intention to retire, initiating a leadership transition process which will take place over the course of the year.

Stearns, the organization’s longest serving president, joined World Vision U.S. as its fifth president in 1998. He took over leadership of the nonprofit after a successful 23-year corporate career that included previous CEO roles at tabletop game company Parker Brothers Games and china and crystal manufacturer Lenox.

During his presidency, the organization’s annual revenues grew to over $1 billion.

“For the past twenty years, it has been both a privilege and an honor to serve alongside tens of thousands of dedicated World Vision staff in 100 countries around the world,” Stearns said. “Their passionate commitment to stand in the gap for the world’s poorest children has inspired me every single day.”

“Rich is an exceptional leader and replacing him will be the most important undertaking of this board,” said Dr. Joan Singleton, chair of the World Vision US board. “We are committed to diligently seeking God’s will in selecting the individual whom God has prepared to lead World Vision U.S. in this next season. We are confident that just as God called Rich 20 years ago, he has also prepared a new leader for such a time as this. We are grateful for Rich’s commitment to continue to lead World Vision U.S. until the new president has settled.”

The board of directors has begun a national search to select a new leader, retaining the services of Carter-Baldwin, an executive search firm that specializes in Christian ministries. A statement from World Vision indicated that Stearns has committed to continue until the new leader is appointed and up to speed.