Nickelodeon veteran Keith Dawkins is leaving the company where he served as EVP and head of TeenNick and Nicktoons. Dawkins, who will be departing next week, will be taking on the role of CEO of The First Tee, a nonprofit youth development organization founded by the Professional Golf Association (PGA). In the new job, which reflects Dawkins’ passion for sports and pro-social causes, Dawkings will succeed long-time topper Joe Louis Barrow, Jr. who had announced his retirement.

Cyma Zarghami, president of Viacom’s Nickelodeon Group, just announced Dawkins’s departure in a company memo, calling him “an expert advocate, partner and leader for Nickelodeon.” In the interim, Laura Lundgren, SVP of Marketing for NickSplat and Nick Sports, will take over his responsibilities.

Dawkins, a valued Nickelodeon executive, joined the company in 2003 from VH1 as Nick’s first-ever General Manager of Nicktoons. From there, his responsibilities grew to include the TeenNick, Nick Jr. and NickMusic channels, and he launched and oversaw TeenNick’s The Splat and NickToon’s NickSports programming blocks.

Here is Zarghami’s email:

I want to share with you the news that Keith Dawkins is leaving his position at Nickelodeon, literally for greener pastures: he is taking on the role of CEO of The First Tee, a nonprofit youth development organization founded by the Professional Golf Association (PGA). He will officially leave his position here next week, and his new job starts mid-October.

In his time here, Keith has been an expert advocate, partner and leader for Nickelodeon since he joined us in 2003 from VH1 as our first-ever General Manager of Nicktoons. His responsibilities quickly grew to include the TeenNick and NickMusic channels; and he launched the NickSplat and Nick Sports programming initiatives–which have been incredibly exciting extensions of our brand.

Keith has an ability to completely immerse himself in every new project and opportunity. He builds teams that share his same passion, and he makes sure the work is fun and rewarding along the way. And if you’ve worked with him in any capacity, you know it is no secret that his personal passion is the world of sports, and his heart has always been with pro-social causes.

So while we will certainly miss him in the day-to-day, I understand and support his decision. And it’s not really good-bye: We will actually continue to work with him given our ongoing partnership with the PGA and how The First Tee intersects with our own public affairs and sports initiatives.

I will miss Keith personally, very much. He has been a good friend and sounding board over the years and has brought a valuable point of view to the table.
The departure of a friend isn’t ever easy, but this transition comes at an especially strong time for us. Our brand is strong, and our work to grow beyond television is paying off. We are celebrating nine straight quarters at number one with Kids 2-11 and Kids 2-5; four straight quarters on top with Kids 6-11; the number-one hits in every demo; renewed creative energy and momentum across the entire organization; big steps in digital; a global consumer products strategy; more real-world experiences; and virtually a new generation of leadership at Nick guiding us toward even bigger success.

In the interim period following Keith’s departure, Laura Lundgren, SVP of Marketing for our niche nets, NickSplat and Nick Sports, will lead the charge while we solidify plans and structure moving forward.

Please join me in wishing him all the best, and let’s thank him for his many contributions to Nickelodeon.

–Cyma