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Nonprofit leader takes over as National Spelling Bee chief

FILE - In this May 28, 2019 file photo, the Scripps National Spelling Bee trophy sits in front of competitors in Oxon Hill, Md. Breaking from a tradition of being led by former contestants, the Scripps National Spelling Bee has hired a nonprofit leader with no history in the competition as its executive director, signaling a new era for the nearly century-old showcase for the top spellers in the English language. Cincinnati-based Scripps announced Monday, March 1, 2021, that J. Michael Durnil will take over immediately as bee director. He replaces Paige Kimble, who stepped down last year. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

By BEN NUCKOLS Associated Press
Breaking from a tradition of being led by former contestants, the Scripps National Spelling Bee has hired a nonprofit leader with no history in the competition as its executive director. Cincinnati-based Scripps announced Monday that J. Michael Durnil will take over immediately as bee director. He replaces Paige Kimble, who stepped down last year. Kimble is a former speller, having won the bee in 1981. By contrast, Durnil has spent much of his career leading nonprofit, educational and media organizations. Most recently, he was president and CEO of the Simon Youth Foundation, an Indianapolis-based nonprofit that aims to help at-risk youth graduate from high school and pursue higher education.

 


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