ALBANY, Ga. -- Albany Civil Rights Institute Executive Director Lee Formwalt confirmed on Monday he has submitted a letter of resignation effective on December 28.
"This was never meant to be a long-term project," Formwalt said. "I took the position wanting to give the museum a kick-start. And I think we did that."
Formwalt, an Indiana native and accomplished historian, took the helm of the nascent ACRI in 2009 after signing a three-year contract.
"I've been away from from my family for too long, and I want to get back to Indiana," Formwalt said. "Plus I'm trying to write two books and they aren't getting written down here."
ACRI Board of Directors President Charlie Crapps said Formwalt will be missed.
"We are devastated," Crapps said Monday. "We expected Lee to remain through his contract date of 2012. I understand he has some things he wants to do back home in Indiana. We will start looking for a replacement who will work with Lee as he works out his notice."
"I wanted to give them plenty of time to find someone to replace me," Formwalt said. "That's the reason for the December effective date."
Over the past two years Formwalt has helped the institute triple its membership and increase visitors.
The first quarter of 2011 saw nearly 3,000 visitors to the museum - more than the 500 who visited in the entire year of 2009.
"Lee was one of the founding members of the ACRI," Crapps said. "There are no bad feelings, we hate to see him go. He's been a tremendous asset to the organization."
When asked what was his biggest accomplishment during his tenure at ARCI, Formwalt didn't hesitate.
"I think that would be making the institute a more integral part of the culture of the community," he said. "When people look at the history of Albany, the most important event is the Albany Movement. For a long time there was a reluctance on both sides to talk about that period.
"Now a new generation with fresh eyes is talking a closer look."