Elaine Whitney plans to step down as Board of Education chairwoman, a position she's held since November 2012. She made the announcement during Monday night's board meeting in Staples High School.

"I am stepping down as chair because I am relaunching my professional career in health-care strategy," Whitney said Tuesday in an email. "I have decided to refocus my time on my career and my state-level work in education."

Whitney is also the vice president for professional development with the Connecticut Association Boards of Education.

The Democrat, who was re-elected to the board in November 2013, said that she will "continue on" as a member of the board.

There was no discussion by board members, who will elect the new chairman from the current membership, following the announcement. The only person to comment Monday was Kerry Liles, PTA Council co-president, who thanked Whitney for her hard work as board chairwoman.

"I have spent many rewarding years serving our town's schools, and I plan to continue to serve on the board as well as an executive officer of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education," Whitney said in an email statement. "However, going forward, I will need to contribute to the local board in a less time-intensive manner than is required by the role of chair. I have done my best to lay the groundwork for a smooth transition in leadership.

"I am confident that the district is in a very sound position thanks to the ongoing hard work, dedication and professionalism of the members of the Board and of our superb administrative team, teachers and staff members," she added.

Whitney became board chairwoman in November 2012 when she succeeded Jim Marpe, who resigned to run for first selectman. Marpe was elected first selectman last November.

Whitney was re-elected chairwoman unanimously following that November 2013 election.

Whitney, who holds a bachelor's degree from Yale and an MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern, was co-president of the Long Lots Elementary School PTA until appointed to the board in January 2009.