PORTLAND — The Center for Preventing Hate announced today it is “winding down” its activities over the next several months following the decision by its executive director to retire.

Steve Wessler, who founded the organization 12 years ago and has led it since, told the board recently that he plans to step down so he can write and teach. The board decided that it would have difficulty finding someone with the same experience, fundraising ability and passion.

The center’s board said the center has made an important difference in Maine communities under Wessler’s guidance.

“For 12 years, the Center for Preventing Hate has helped to keep schools and communities safe, giving students and citizens the tools to understand and combat the bias that so often leads to harassment and violence,” said Board President Diane Kenty. “The students and community members who have received training from the Center will continue to make a difference in Maine and beyond through their strong, informed advocacy for tolerance and civility.”

The group plans to shift some of its activities to other organizations. The Center for Preventing Hate also will be conducting “training-the-trainers” conferences to prepare others to lead bias prevention workshops.