Emerson College President Lee Pelton will leave his position in June 2021 to become the chief executive officer and president of The Boston Foundation, a local nonprofit leader, the college announced Tuesday.

Pelton, the 12th president of Emerson College and the college’s first Black president, started in the role in 2011, replacing Jacqueline Liebergott. Before taking the reins of the liberal-arts college downtown, Pelton served as president of Willamette University in Salem, Oregon for 13 years.

Pelton has been a advocate for diversity in higher education and recently spoke with GBH News about his efforts to diversify the college’s contracts with external companies and encourage other colleges and universities to buy from more minority-owned businesses.

“It goes without saying that my decision to leave my position as your president does not come easily,” Pelton wrote in a message to the Emerson College community Tuesday evening detailing his reasons for leaving.

Pelton cited the “triple pandemic of COVID-19, economic devastation, and the public exposure of systemic racial disparities” as his personal call to action.

“We are called to seize the moment, to help write a new chapter for Boston and for future generations that will follow,” Pelton wrote. “It is that calling and this moment that has led me to accept this position leading The Boston Foundation. I believe the Foundation has enormous potential to address these inequities and make a difference for people long overlooked by society, and I intend to do just that. I hope that I will make you proud.”