Penny Richards, executive director at the Institute of Masters of Wine, has resigned after leading the IMW for more than five years.

Adrian Garforth MW, chairman of the IMW, said: “Penny has been the driving force behind the Executive Team who have delivered unprecedented success within the IMW over the last few years. We wish her the best of luck as she leaves to become the managing director of the Aspen Institute in the UK, a nonpartisan forum for value-based leadership and the exchange of ideas.

“On behalf of the IMW, I would like to thank Penny for her commitment, dedication and tireless efforts. The IMW’s reputation and global interest in the study programme has never been higher. The foundations are now in place for the next exciting stage of its development. I personally wish her every success in her new role.”

Richards joined the IMW in May 2013, after a long career as a journalist working in foreign news at the BBC. She was also head of communications and advocacy for the Bill & Miranda Gates Foundation in India and the COO for The Elders, a group of former world leaders working together for peace and human rights.  

Over the next few months the IMW will be conducting a search to find the new executive director, led by IMW chairman Adrian Garforth MW, in conjunction with recruiters Ellwood Atfield. In the meantime, Olivier Chapman, head of study programme and development, will be the acting executive director until a successor is appointed.