Nancy Gibbs to Lead TIME

One of the magazine’s most prominent voices and a champion of the publication’s digital future becomes its top editor

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Jonathan D. Woods / TIME

TIME managing editor Nancy Gibbs, left, and Time Inc. editor-in-chief Martha Nelson in New York City on Sept. 17, 2013

Nancy Gibbs, who has served as the main voice of TIME during presidential elections and moments of national crisis, will become the magazine’s top editor, TIME Inc. announced on Tuesday.

Gibbs, 53, will be TIME’s 17th managing editor since its 1923 founding. She is the first woman to hold the position.

In remarks to reporters and editors in TIME’s newsroom Tuesday afternoon, Gibbs called herself “the first managing editor to wear pumps — so far as we know.”

Gibbs, who has co-authored two best-selling books about the modern presidency, has written 174 cover stories — more than any other writer in TIME’s history — across a range of subjects from politics to parenting.

She succeeds Richard Stengel as managing editor, TIME’s top editorial position. On Tuesday, Stengel was named President Barack Obama’s nominee to serve as under secretary for public diplomacy and public affairs at the Department of State.

Since 2011, Gibbs has served as deputy managing editor, TIME’s No. 2, where she has helped reshape TIME. It now reaches more than 50 million people across its digital and print platforms.

In recent months, Gibbs has overseen the hiring of more than two dozen new reporters and editors as part of the magazine’s effort to expand its digital footprint, including a redesigned and recharged website to debut later this year. TIME also recently launched a new documentary film division, Red Border Films, which will produce original video journalism every month.

(WATCH: Nancy Gibbs Talks About Her Plans for the Future)

Gibbs’ appointment was announced by Time Inc. editor-in-chief Martha Nelson.

“In my role, making these decisions about who will be the next managing editor is never an easy thing,” Nelson said on Tuesday. “In this case, I didn’t have a moment’s hesitation or any doubt whatsoever. I knew that Nancy was the perfect person to lead this brand, and I know she has the right staff behind her.”

A graduate of Yale University, onetime Marshall Scholar at Oxford University and two-time Ferris Professor at Princeton University, Gibbs has reported on almost every major news event in the past 20 years. Her most recent cover story came in a special iPad edition of the magazine, detailing the events surrounding the Boston Marathon bombing in April. She is a co-author, with Michael Duffy, a TIME executive editor, of The Presidents Club: Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity, which spent more than 30 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list last year. The two editors also collaborated in 2007 on a best-selling book about evangelist Billy Graham.

(MORE: Nancy Gibbs’ Letter to Readers)

Gibbs started her career at TIME as a part-time fact-checker in 1985. In February 1988, she published her first cover story about the lives of senior citizens in the U.S. She later moved to the Nation section and became an editor-at-large, writing cover stories on presidential elections, politics, impeachment, terrorism and war. Gibbs wrote TIME’s 9,500-word cover story after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, produced by the magazine’s staff in 28 hours. That issue won a National Magazine Award, the industry’s highest honor.

A native of New York City, Gibbs lives in Bronxville, N.Y., with her two daughters and her husband, whom she met while working at TIME. Gibbs is a former deacon and senior elder at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City.

“For years and years, she has done the toughest stories under the tightest deadlines with the most seriousness,” Stengel told staff. “Those records will never be beaten.”