Executive director and CEO Geoff Beckwith has led the MMA for 31 years.

Geoff Beckwith, the MMA’s executive director and CEO for the past 31 years, announced today that he will be retiring in September, when he turns 65.

“Working for MMA has been the highlight of my career, and I will always be deeply grateful for this remarkable opportunity to support and advance the needs of cities and towns across the state,” Beckwith said. “Yet, as I noted in my column in The Beacon just a few days ago, the pages on the calendar are always turning. The one constant is change, and for me that time is coming this September.”

Beckwith issued the following message, sharing the news with the MMA Board of Directors, staff and MMA members:

“After much reflection and consideration, I have decided to retire as the MMA’s executive director and CEO in September, when I celebrate my 65th birthday.

“This has not been an easy decision, as I still feel great energy and passion for this amazing job, which I love very much. I am inspired every day by our extraordinary members and staff, and I know that the MMA has exciting and important work to do in the months and years ahead.

MMA Executive director and CEO Geoff Beckwith (far right) gathers with his MMA & MIIA directors at the company holiday party. Pictured are (front l-r) MIIA Director of Administration & Financial Controller Anne Carlson, Deputy Executive Director Katie McCue, Senior Executive and Director of Communications & Membership Candace Pierce and Geoff Beckwith, (back l-r) MIIA Health Benefits Trust Director Chris Bailey and Senior Executive and Legislative Director Dave Koffman.

“Yet, after 31 years in this role, this feels like the right time for me to transition to a new phase in my life, so I can dedicate more time for my family, and make more space for other pursuits such as writing, researching, teaching and mentoring.

“I’ve spent 75% of my career and nearly half my life at the MMA. During this time, my colleagues on the staff have improved every part of our operation. They have expanded our services, modernized our systems, and built a truly impactful organization. The credit for all our gains belongs with these dedicated and gifted professionals. My only real accomplishment has been to hire and support them as best I could along the way.

“The MMA has grown and evolved in so many ways since 1992. Our transformation and progress has been made possible by our members — thousands of local officials who have stepped forward to volunteer countless hours to guide, advise and support the MMA. Their service to us has been on top of their service to their neighbors and neighborhoods, which makes me doubly grateful. Local officials are public servants in the highest and best sense of the expression, giving their time and talents to our shared mission and vision of building strong and vibrant communities across Massachusetts.

“I’ve made this announcement early, giving the association eight months to plan for this transition. I will support the Board of Directors, staff and members as the board moves forward with a search process to select my successor, and I will devote my full energy to leading the organization until my retirement.

“Working at MMA has been an honor that I will cherish always, and I head into my next chapter confident that this change will present new and exciting opportunities for the MMA, and certain that our best days are ahead of us!”

MMA President Ruthanne Fuller, the mayor of Newton, said wisdom, judgment, integrity and experience are the words that come to mind when she thinks of Beckwith.

“It’s a mission and a calling, much more than a job,” she said, praising Beckwith’s focus on building consensus among leaders of 351 individual cities and towns, as well as building relationships and networks with legislative and state leaders.

“He lifted up and professionalized the work of cities and towns,” she said. “He will leave with great respect and affection across the Commonwealth, and has set up the MMA to be in a position of strength and stability going forward.”

MMA Vice President Jill Hai, the Lexington Select Board chair who will assume the presidency of the MMA during its Annual Meeting on Jan. 21, added, “I think it’s obviously going to be a huge challenge to fill Geoff’s shoes. … He’s been an amazing leader.”

She added that Beckwith will continue to lead the organization for the next eight months — “We are a steady ship” — while the MMA Board of Directors conducts a nationwide search for the next leader.