Head of Open Society Foundations to Retire

Aryeh Neier, who has led George Soros's network of philanthropies for eighteen years, plans to step down as president of the Open Society Foundations in April 2012, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reports.

Neier, 74, became the first president of Soros's network of funders in 1993, when the financier was still directing much of his philanthropic work himself. Neier also is a founding member of Human Rights Watch and a former director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

According to officials at the Soros network, Neier's responsibilities may be divided among several employees, depending on who is selected to succeed him. Although he and Soros profess different approaches to social change — Soros tends toward a top-down approach while Neier favors a bottom-up, grassroots approach — they have collaborated to make OSF one of the leading private supporters of the global human rights movement.

"It will undoubtedly be a new era," Soros told the Chronicle when asked about Neier's decision. "We have a very productive relationship: two different characters, two different types of people, each respecting the other and having a creative tension between us. This will be disrupted by his departure."

Caroline Preston. "Head of George Soros's Philanthropy Network Plans to Retire." Chronicle of Philanthropy 05/09/2011.