Abbe Raven, chairman of A+E Networks, announced plans to retire Feb. 2 from the company she's been with for 33 years.
Raven passed her CEO title to Nancy Dubuc last year.
Running A+E Networks, a joint venture of the Walt Disney Co. and Hearst that owns cable channels including A&E, History and Lifetime, made Raven one of the most respected women in the TV business.
"I will miss the daily excitement and energy that runs through our halls. It's hard to say goodbye to the people and the company I love, the place I have been thinking about every day for most of my adult life. But it's time. Time for me to explore new ideas, new interests, new callings-new chapters in my life," Raven said in a memo to staff. "And as chairman emeritus of the company in the future, I look forward to serving the company when called upon as an ambassador and advisor."
A former teacher, Raven got into the nascent cable business by reading an item in the newspaper about an event promoting a new channel called Daytime. She went to the event, in the lingerie department of Macy's, met the network's programming executives and got hired.
"I would never have imagined I would become a manager, director, and senior executive—not to mention the president and CEO and then chairman of a major media company. That was never my goal. My goal was to find something I would love to do, something I could contribute to in my own way—something to be part of," she said in the memo.
Raven is expected to serve on the corporate board after leaving A+E.