Jeff Speck
National Endowment for the Arts Jeff Speck

After nearly four years on the job, National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) director of design Jeff Speck announced in late March he would leave his post to return to private practice as a city planner. Speck, 43, who previously had been director of town planning at Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company, in Miami, says he leaves “with a great fondness” for the endowment and is confident its work will continue to thrive. “The last four years have been strong ones for the agency,” Speck says.

The design director oversees the NEA's collaborations with the Mayors' Institute on City Design and Your Town: The Citizens' Institute on Rural Design, as well as with the new Governors' Institute on Community Design, which Speck founded to help inform growth issues at the state level. So far, Governors' Institutes have taken place—quite successfully, Speck notes—in Arizona, Rhode Island, and Virginia. “Never underestimate what you can accomplish by bringing knowledge to power,” he says.

Speck leaves the NEA in mid-May. The search for his replacement will begin with a job announcement to be posted on the agency's website,