Dan Gerlach, a longtime budget advisor to North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley, will become president of on Oct. 1.

Gerlach had been offered the position early this month. He formally accepted the offer on Wednesday.

Gerlach will replace Valeria Lee, who is retiring.

Golden LEAF funds economic development projects with money from the national tobacco litigation settlement.

"It is an honor and privilege to join Golden LEAF," Gerlach said in a statement.

"I look forward to this great opportunity to help create, build on and sustain the progress toward improving the economy and quality of life in rural and distressed communities. Golden LEAF has an excellent and committed board and staff, and I am eager to get to work,” he added.

Before joining Easley’s administration, Gerlach headed the North Carolina Budget and Tax Center, a nonprofit that advocated for a progressive state tax system.

Lee has been president of Golden LEAF since 2000. During that time, the foundation awarded 682 grants totaling more than $351 million to support projects in agriculture, economic development, work force preparedness and education.

"We are pleased that Dan Gerlach has accepted our offer to be Golden LEAF’s next president,” said Tommy Bunn, chairman of Golden LEAF’s board. “We know that under his leadership, he will continue our good work in North Carolina’s rural and distressed communities.”