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Helga Stephenson was responsible for one of the industry’s greatest sea changes: the merger of the Genie Awards for cinema and the Gemini Awards for television to create the Canadian Screen Awards.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

As the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television prepares for its fourth annual Canadian Screen Awards, the organization announced Thursday that Helga Stephenson will be stepping down as CEO.

"Nobody could have done it better than Helga," said chairman Martin Katz in a statement.

Stephenson took charge of the ACCT in 2011 and was responsible for one of the industry's greatest sea changes: the merger of the Genie Awards for cinema and the Gemini Awards for television to create the Canadian Screen Awards (which also celebrate digital media).

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"It's all about creating a better show that commands attention," Stephenson said in 2012 when the move was announced.

"We have this huge industry that needs a bigger platform to showcase our talent."

Stephenson has a deep history with the country's entertainment sector.

She ran the Toronto International Film Festival from 1987 to 1994, co-founded the Toronto Human Rights Watch Film Festival and enjoyed a long career as a publicist for Canadian cinema.

She will remain with the ACCT until a new CEO is hired.

"It has been my honour and privilege to work with you over the past five years," Stephenson said in a statement to ACCT members and employees. "My admiration for your passion, talent and creativity knows no bounds."

This year's Canadian Screen Awards will take place March 13 in Toronto.

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