Hilary Pennington wrote to recipients of education-related grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to announce that she would be leaving the position of director of education, postsecondary success and special initiatives. The foundation has been highly influential in recent years in pushing colleges to pay more attention to college completion issues, and this focus has been most notable at community colleges. "Given the momentum we’ve built for the next phase of the postsecondary success strategy, I have decided this is a good time for me to pass the baton. I am eager to get closer to work on the ground than my role at the foundation allows, and to replenish my energy and spirit. And I want to engage more directly the challenges that face societies (the U.S. and elsewhere in the world) seeking to balance the needs of a rising generation of ethnically and racially diverse young people with those of a more homogeneous aging generation –- especially now, at a time when slower economic growth often seems to pit the interests of the young against those of the old." Pennington did not announce details on her next steps, but said she would remain on for a transition period into 2012.