Longtime MEMIC Group executive Michael Bourque will take the helm of the Portland-based workers’ compensation insurance provider when its current chief executive retires later this year.

Bourque, a former newspaper reporter from Maine who has worked at MEMIC for 22 years, is senior vice president of external affairs. He will replace retiring President and CEO John Leonard, a founding leader of the company.

Bourque said in an interview Thursday that he is excited about taking on the top leadership role at MEMIC, which insures more than 20,000 employers and their estimated 300,000 employees.

“I’ve worked for 22 years at the mission of this company and I’ve always felt excited about going to work every day,” he said. “We help people to reduce injuries and keep their jobs.”

Born in Greenville and raised in Ashland, Bourque holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maine and professional certifications in public relations and as a workers’ compensation professional.

He began his professional career as a newspaper reporter at daily papers in Alaska and Maine. Prior to joining MEMIC, he served as senior editor at the American Association of Community Colleges in Washington, D.C.

In addition to heading the company’s marketing, communications and government relations efforts, Bourque has taken on many community leadership roles. He is a former chair of the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce and also a past chairman of the Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine, the Southern Maine Community College Foundation, the Portland Community Chamber of Commerce, Youth and Family Outreach and the Maine Public Relations Council.

Bourque is a former senior warden at Trinity Episcopal Church in Portland and a current member of the board of directors of the Maine Chamber. In 2016, he led the United Way’s annual campaign in greater Portland, helping to raise more than $8 million for the organization’s community efforts.

“We are truly excited to present Michael as the next leader of MEMIC,” said company Chairman David Labbe in a news release announcing the appointment. “His experience, knowledge and loyalty to this company makes him the perfect candidate to step into the role at this important time in the company’s history. We have been fortunate to have the great leadership of John Leonard over our first 25 years and Michael is ready to carry on that tradition.”

The decision was announced Thursday afternoon to a gathering of the company’s nearly 400 employees.

Leonard, who was hired in 1993 to lead the then-fledgling company, announced in December that he would retire in September of this year. The company’s board of directors undertook a search that included candidates from both inside and outside of the company before selecting Bourque.

Under Leonard, the company grew from a Maine-only operation to an organization with more than $1.2 billion in assets with licenses across the country and eight offices from Maine to Florida. It is credited with leading the turnaround in workers’ compensation in its home state of Maine, where it underwrites 66 percent of the commercial market insurance premiums and where costs have fallen by more than 50 percent. Lost-time work injuries in the state have decreased by nearly 40 percent since the company was established in 1993.

“There are a few things that are so important in thinking about a successor,” Leonard said. “They include integrity and the ability to instill confidence in others. These are traits Michael truly possesses and demonstrates daily.”

MEMIC has a history of returning excess premiums to its members as a result of lower costs and fewer worker injuries.

In October, MEMIC announced that it would issue a record dividend of $20 million to about 18,000 Maine policyholders.

The company has now issued a dividend in each of the past 12 years, and the record $20 million dividend was 54 percent more than was returned to policyholders in 2012, MEMIC said.