With a year and half to go before she formally steps down it is far too early to write a tribute to United Way of Dane County President and CEO Leslie Ann Howard.

We have little doubt Howard will simply add to her legacy between now and then and we wouldn’t want to leave anything out. But we think the 18 month notice Howard gave the board is an appropriate and necessary length of time to find a successor for one of the most important leaders in Madison for more than a quarter of a century.

We are in the middle of one of the most significant periods of leadership change in Madison in a long time. From Madison schools to the Chamber of Commerce to the community’s most important non-profits, new, young and we think forward thinking leaders are taking over. That’s good. It’s what smart cities need, along with old veterans with experience and wisdom to share.

We hope Howard eventually joins that latter group. For now we look forward to the important search for her successor and look forward to writing the tributes yet to come.