Producer Kathleen Kennedy is to become co-chair of Lucasfilm, allowing company founder George Lucas to move forward with his previously announced retirement plans.

For the time being Lucas will become co-chairman of the company’s board and continue as CEO. Micheline Chau will remain as president and COO, continuing to focus on the day-to-day operations of the business, which includes film and TV production divisions as well as Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound.

“I’ve spent my life building Lucasfilm and as I shift my focus into other directions I wanted to make sure it was in the hands of someone equipped to carry my vision into the future,” said George Lucas in a statement.

“It was important that my successor not only be someone with great creative passion and proven leadership abilities, but also someone who loves movies,” he continued. “…So for me Kathy was the obvious choice, she is a trusted friend and one of the most respected producers and executives in the industry.”

Added Kennedy: “George is a true visionary. I’ve seen him build Lucasfilm from a small rebel unit in Northern California to an international fully integrated entertainment company. I’m excited to have the chance to work with such an extraordinary group of talented people.”

Kennedy will step down from her role at The Kennedy/Marshall Company, shifting her responsibilities to partner Frank Marshall. The company, whose credits include The Sixth Sense and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, is currently in post production on Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln.