News & Politics

Fred Ryan Will Leave the Washington Post

The Post's publisher will lead a center dedicated to civility in public life.

Photograph by Mark J. Terrill/AP Photo.

Washington Post publisher and CEO Fred Ryan will leave the publication in August, the paper announced Monday. Ryan will lead an organization at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation dedicated to civility in public life. The center will be nonpartisan, the publication says.

Ryan has been publisher for nine years. Patty Stonesifer, who ran Martha’s Table in DC, has been named interim CEO and will lead the search for Ryan’s replacement. Stonesifer was the founding CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and directed the board of Amazon, which Post owner Jeff Bezos founded. “You’ll soon see for yourself why I admire her,” Bezos wrote in a memo to the newsroom, which you can read in full below.

The Washington Post‘s newsroom reports that Bezos “provided the initial funding for planning and design of the center.” Ryan, who served as Reagan’s chief of staff, said in a memo to the company that he has “a deep and growing concern about the decline in civility and respectful dialogue in our political process, on social media platforms and more broadly across our society.” His memo follows Bezos’s below.

Bezos’s memo:

Dear Washington Post Team,

I want to express my deepest gratitude and appreciation to Fred for his dedicated service to The Washington Post as our Publisher and CEO.

Fred has led The Post through a period of innovation, journalistic excellence, and growth. His focus on the intersection of journalism and technology has been of great benefit to readers and has laid the foundation for future growth.

Fred is widely respected for championing press freedom and the protection of journalists. In addition to launching the Press Freedom Partnership, he’s been a relentless force in his devotion to secure the release of journalists who have been wrongly detained and an unwavering voice for accountability from those who do them harm.

I’m deeply grateful to Fred for his leadership and for the friendship that we’ve developed over the years. I look forward to continuing to enjoy both as he works to advance civility in our nation’s discourse.

To ensure we don’t skip a beat, Fred has agreed to remain as Publisher for the next two months, and my longtime friend and colleague Patty Stonesifer will join The Post today as interim CEO. She’ll head up our leadership team, steer us through this important transition, and help me identify the Publisher/CEO who will take the Post forward into the next decade. Patty has built and led great organizations. You’ll soon see for yourself why I admire her. Her skills, judgement, and character all stand out. She also understands the importance of our mission and has a deep respect for the work we do here.

Please join me in thanking Fred as he prepares for his new venture and in welcoming Patty as she assumes the interim CEO role.

Many thanks,


Ryan’s memo:

Dear Washington Post Colleagues,

Nine years ago, I was honored to be selected by Jeff Bezos to be Publisher and CEO of The Washington Post. Working with Jeff and the exceptional team at The Post has been an incredible experience and enormously gratifying.

Together, we have accomplished one of the most extraordinary transformations in modern media history. We have evolved from a primarily local print newspaper to become a global digital publication. We’ve added significantly to the tremendous team of journalists, engineers and business experts and have taken The Post through multiple years of profitability. We’ve launched an innovative new technology platform that is powering hundreds of other news sites around the world.

During this time, we have won multiple awards for exceptional journalism, including 13 Pulitzer Prizes, and we’ve twice been named “The World’s Most Innovative Media Company“ by Fast Company.

As I have shared in conversations with many of you, I have a deep and growing concern about the decline in civility and respectful dialogue in our political process, on social media platforms and more broadly across our society. Many of us can recall an era when people could disagree without being disagreeable. Political leaders on opposite sides of the aisle could find common ground for the good of the country. Today, the decline in civility has become a toxic and corrosive force that threatens our social interactions and weakens the underpinnings of our democracy. I feel a strong sense of urgency about this issue.

As a result, I have decided to leave my position at The Post to lead the nonpartisan Center on Public Civility that is being launched by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute. Jeff is personally providing support for the planning and design phase of this new initiative and supports my decision to make this move.

In order to provide advice and counsel during this transition, I have agreed to remain as Publisher of The Washington Post until August 1. Jeff will announce a new interim CEO later today. It is an exceptional individual that I hold in the highest regard.

In the weeks and months ahead, I look forward to spending time with all of my friends and colleagues across The Post to convey my deep appreciation for your many impressive contributions to our success. I am committed to providing my full support as the interim CEO charts the course of this transition and the bright future ahead for The Post.

With my deepest appreciation to each of you,


Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute,, and Washington City Paper. He lives in Del Ray.