Jayne Adair, executive director of Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures since June 2007, will retire in May of next year.
"This job has been so satisfying on so many levels," Ms. Adair said, adding that the management experience she gained working at three local television stations prepared her well.
She thanked members of the nonprofit's board for their consistent support.
"They have allowed me to take some risks to develop our audiences," Ms. Adair said.
Alice Mitinger, president of the nonprofit board, praised Ms. Adair for being innovative.
"With the programming she has developed, we have reached many new audiences and with her leadership, the organization has achieved a position of sustainability. We applaud Jayne for all her accomplishments as we begin our search for her successor," Ms. Mitinger said.
The board's goal is to identify Ms. Adair's successor by the spring of next year.
Since 2007, subscription tickets to the Literary Evenings Series have increased by 70 percent. Ms. Adair created a series of free book talks called Writers LIVE at Carnegie Library in Oakland, which began in spring 2011. The Moth Mainstage, an evening of storytelling, premiered here in 2009.
Ms. Adair is the organization's fourth executive director. The literary series, which began in 1991 at the Byham Theater in Downtown's Cultural District, was initially led by its founder, Dennis Ciccone. Susan Corbett succeeded him. Sylvia Keller had a one-year tenure before leaving for a job in Arizona.
One of Ms. Adair's fondest moments is the night during last year's series when "All the book club members stood up and they were 85 percent of the audience. We have no marketing budget. We have had to grow the audience through grass-roots efforts," she said.
Her father, Morton T. Edwards Sr., died last July at age 92 in Greenville, S.C. A civic leader and dentist, he taught his daughter to love baseball, poetry, boiled peanuts and fig preserves.
"When you lose a parent, you start thinking about the things you want to do before it's too late," Ms. Adair said, adding that she's eager to attend OSHER classes at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh Pirates day games, brush up on her Italian and read books of her own choice.
Traveling to the West Coast to visit a new family member will be a joy.
"My daughter, Nell, is expecting our first grandchild on my birthday. She lives in Topanga Canyon outside of L.A. She teaches art at a private school," Ms. Adair said.
In the fall of 2007, Ms. Adair met and befriended Ann Patchett, author of the new collection of essays "This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage" as well as several successful novels, including "State of Wonder" and "Bel Canto."
"I met her the first year I was doing the lecture series," she recalled, adding that when her daughter, Nell, moved to Nashville, she stayed with Ms. Patchett for six weeks.
"Ann didn't want her to leave," Ms. Adair recalled.
That's why Ms. Patchett will be the last author to appear next year.
Marylynne Pitz: email@example.com or 412-263-1648.