Natalie Morales is leaving NBC News after 22 years

Natalie Morales is leaving NBC.

The television journalist announced her departure in an internal memo to NBC News colleagues on Friday, explaining that she was excited to be pursuing "a new adventure," but didn't disclose details of what is next for her.

Morales will continue to appear as a "Dateline" correspondent through the rest of 2021, and will be saluted with an on-air farewell tribute on TODAY in the coming weeks.

"I struggle to find the right words and there are way too many people I need to thank for a wonderful career at NBC News," Morales, 49, told colleagues in her memo. "I think back to my early days cutting my teeth at (NBC affiliate) WVIT in Hartford, CT then taking the huge and — at the time — petrifying leap to MSNBC and alas — scoring the golden tickets to the TODAY show and 'Dateline.'"

"This first half of my life has been one full of adventure, challenges, travel, way too many early wake up calls, and yes opportunities to witness history unfold and to tell inspiring and impactful stories that will always be in my mind’s highlight reel," she continued.

"Speaking of that reel: I watched my family grow up along with so many of your own children, and as my oldest son gets ready to spread his wings and head to college soon, so too do I feel the time is right, (before the second half of my life) to spread my own wings and to pursue a new adventure," she added.

She concluded her message, "It’s very hard to say goodbye… and we all know in this business it’s never goodbye but see you later. I’m eternally grateful for the support and deep friendships that will remain no matter where our paths lead. I have so much to be thankful for and for every one of you who helped me get here… muchísimas gracias mis amigos."

Morales joined TODAY in 2006 as a national correspondent, and went on to report across all of NBCUniversal News’ platforms, including "NBC Nightly News," "Dateline" and MSNBC.

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During her decade and a half at TODAY, Morales served as news anchor and co-host of TODAY’s third hour before being named the show's West Coast anchor in 2016.

In 2020, while still anchoring TODAY, Morales became an official correspondent for "Dateline."

She previously served as host of NBCU’s “Access” and co-host of “Access Live."

During her time at NBC, Morales contributed to many major breaking news stories, including the sexual harassment scandals, the 2017 Las Vegas massacre, the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, as well as coverage of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's royal wedding in 2011 and the birth of the couple's first child, Prince George, in 2013.

In October 2010, Morales, who speaks Spanish and Portuguese, live-translated and reported on the Chilean miner rescue. Thanks in part to her efforts, NBC's coverage of the rescue was recognized with a 2010 National Headliner Award.

Morales earned three Daytime Emmy Awards as part of the TODAY team. She also won a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for her reporting on Honduran lobster divers for “Rock Center with Brian Williams” in 2013, and three Gracie Awards for her outstanding reporting.

In 2018, Morales, who shares two sons, Josh and Luke, with husband Joe Rhodes, published her first book, “At Home with Natalie: Simple Recipes for Healthy Living from My Family’s Kitchen to Yours."

On Friday, TODAY executive producer Tom Mazzarelli sent a note to NBC News staffers praising Morales for her career at NBC over the last two decades.

"She’s been offered an opportunity she’s passionate about and has decided to step away from NBC News after an incredible two-decade career here," he wrote, adding, "So please join me in wishing her nothing but the best from her family here at TODAY."

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