The World Cocoa Foundation Board of Directors has announced the resignation of Bill Guyton, who has served as WCF's president since the foundation was founded in 2000.

Guyton will remain in his position until the end of 2015. The WCF Board of Directors indicated that it will create a search committee to identify a successor.

WCF's announcement comes after celebrating 15 years of efforts led by Guyton, focusing on improving livelihood of cocoa farmers and their communities in West Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America.

“I have been honored to serve as WCF’s president and to witness the growth of the organization and its staff.  My proudest achievement at WCF was in mobilizing technical and financial resources to help hundreds of thousands of cocoa family farmers to improve their productivity, incomes and livelihoods," says Guyton. "I will continue to support WCF in any way that I can, and will always applaud the chocolate and cocoa industry’s efforts to accelerate sustainability in the sector.”

Under Guyton's leadership, WCF has seen tremendous growth.

At its launch, WCF's staff was no more than Guyton and one other full-time employee. The number has since grown to more than 40. Originally comprised of only a handful of chocolate and cocoa companies, the foundation's membership now boasts more 100 companies worldwide.

WCF has also expanded from its Washington-based headquarters, opening up offices in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, two leading global producers of cocoa. Guyton has also fostered close working relationships between WCF and governments of cocoa-producing countries and guided cocoa research exchange programs.

His fundraising efforts are also notable. As an advocate of public-private partnerships, he has successfully matched member company contributions with funding from major donors, including the United States Agency for International Development, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, United States Department of Agriculture, Walmart Foundation, Jacobs Foundation, and others.

“We are grateful for Bill’s tireless service and support for sustainability in the global cocoa sector. His vision over the past 15 years has led to an unprecedented focus by industry and others on improving the lives of cocoa farmers and their families," says Barry Parkin, chairman, WCF. "Bill’s ability to identify non-competitive areas for collaboration between chocolate and cocoa companies is evidenced by last year’s launch of CocoaAction, a new sustainability strategy that he shepherded from the beginning. We thank him and wish him well.”