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DAVENPORT — Mary Junck, longtime leader of publisher Lee Enterprises Inc., plans to transition from executive chairman after the annual shareholders meeting in February 2019. She will continue on as chairman of the board of directors.

In a news release Monday, the Davenport-based Lee said the change will complete a transition plan that included the advancement of Kevin Mowbray to president and chief executive officer in 2016.

As executive chairman since 2016, Junck has served as an adviser to the CEO and continued to guide Lee’s overall strategy and direction. As chairman, she will provide leadership for the board of directors and lead projects as requested by the board and the CEO.

Junck, 71, joined Lee in 1999 as executive vice president and chief operating officer. She became president in 2000, chief executive in 2001 and chairman in 2002. Under her leadership, Lee has grown from publishing 18 daily newspapers into an industry-leading provider of print and digital local news, information and advertising in 49 markets in 21 states. In July, Lee also began managing Berkshire Hathaway’s BH Media operations in 30 markets.

Lee Enterprises is the parent company of The Courier, and also published The Quad-City Times and the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

“The Board of Directors is deeply grateful for Mary’s strategic guidance during this transition,” Herb Moloney, lead independent director, said in the release. “In the last three years, she has been a very positive resource for Lee managers, and her strategic involvement led to the innovative management agreement with BH Media. With her extraordinary leadership, we expect to keep Lee fully in the forefront of the industry’s transformation.”

Lee will hold its annual shareholder meeting on Feb. 20 in Davenport.

In addition to the Quad-Cities, Lee’s markets include St. Louis, Missouri; Lincoln, Nebraska; Madison, Wisconsin; Billings, Montana; Bloomington, Illinois; and Tucson, Arizona. Lee also operates, a state-of-the-art provider of digital media services for more than 1,700 news organizations in the United States and Canada.

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