Haj, currently producing artistic director of PlayMakers Rep, a resident theater company at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will take over the reins of the Minneapolis nonprofit from retiring a.d. Joe Dowling, who departs after 20 years at the helm of one of the U.S.’ premiere regional theaters.

The three-year appointment was announced Tuesday by Guthrie board chair Lee Skold and search committee Chair Patricia Simmons.

“I am delighted and enthused to welcome Joe Haj to the Guthrie,” said Dowling, a distinguished director who will head up revivals of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible and Sean O’Casey’s Juno And The Paycock in the upcoming months before departing at the end of June. “He is an artist of the highest caliber and an esteemed leader in our field. I look forward to collaborating with him in these next months and am gratified that our board has selected an individual who will both embrace and invigorate our theater and community.”

Haj, one of the few Arab-Americans to run a major nonprofit theater, was the 2014 recipient of the Zelda Fichandler Award, an honor presented by the stage director’s and choreographer’s union. It recognizes an outstanding director or choreographer deemed transformative to the regional theater through innovative, brave work and a commitment to community.

The Guthrie opened in 1963 and is named for British director Sir Tyrone Guthrie, also founder of Canada’s Stratford Festival.