Rich Huddleston is stepping down as executive director of Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, the organization announced in a news release Monday.
Huddleston has spent 27 years with Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, serving as executive director since 2004, according to the release. His last day will be Dec. 31.
"My work at AACF has allowed me to fulfill my passion for advocacy and my passion for improving public policy to ensure all children and families have what they need to thrive and succeed," he said. "More importantly, during that time I have been blessed to work with many brilliant and committed staff, supportive board members, great partners and funders and donors who have supported AACF."
The organization will begin a national search process soon, the release states, and officials expect to have a new executive director in place before the Arkansas General Assembly convenes in January 2023.
Huddleston took over as director of research and policy before becoming executive director in 2004, according to the news release. Among the issues Huddleston helped the organization address were the expansion of quality pre-kindergarten, increases in the state minimum wage, expansion of health care coverage for adults with low income, access to children's health care coverage for Marshallese and other immigrant children and juvenile justice reform.
The Little Rock-based organization also opened a regional office during Huddleston's tenure, expanding its work and reach throughout the state.
"For the past 27 years, Rich has been instrumental in the organization's efforts to improve the lives of children and families across the state of Arkansas," said Ryan Davis, president of organization's Board of Directors. "We cannot thank Rich enough for the dedication, passion and vision he has given AACF. He will be missed by the staff, board and partners alike."
Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families was founded in 1977 by a group of Arkansans who believed children needed an independent force to provide information and education to parents and citizens about the state's policies that affect children and families. It provides leadership, research and advocacy to promote wide-ranging reforms aimed at improving the lives of Arkansas' children.