The Children's Theatre Company, the nation's largest theater for youth and families, has announced its longtime leader Peter Brosius is stepping down.

Brosius, 71, brought the company to new heights since becoming artistic director in 1997, including winning a Tony Award for outstanding regional theater — the first multi-generational company to nab the honor. He was also behind taking "A Year With Frog and Toad" to Broadway, where it was nominated for three Tonys.

"This job has been the honor of my lifetime working as an advocate for young people — their intelligence, wit, their dignity, optimism and agency," Brosius said Thursday.

He will retire in June 2024 after 27 years.

Brosius has been a passionate supporter of creating new programming for young audiences, commissioning and premiering more than 70 plays and musicals while also bringing in top-flight artistic talent to serve an audience that's sometimes neglected.

The company has produced 187 shows during his tenure, including "Seedfolks," which toured to South Africa, and "The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins," which the company took to Japan.

Other memorable productions Brosius oversaw include "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas," and splashy revivals of "Annie" and "Matilda."

"Peter's leadership at CTC has been a game-changer for the entire theater field," said Teresa Eyring, executive director of the nonprofit Theatre Communications Group. She also was former CTC managing director.

Eyring lauded Brosius' commitment to creating work for young audiences that's "daring, joyful and impactful."

Under Brosius' watch, the company undertook a $30 million physical expansion in 2005 that added the Cargill Stage, which is used to serve preschool and teen audiences, as well as the McGuire Education Center, production shops and other upgrades.

CTC also doubled its annual budget from $6 million to $13 million and grew its endowment from $2 million to $12 million.

The company is likely to build on Brosius' accomplishments when it picks a replacement leader, said managing director Kimberly Motes.

"We'll probably be looking even internationally, as wide as we can, for the next artistic director," she said. "Peter is leaving really big shoes to fill."