IV. Biographies of Candidates
Slate of PEN America Officers and Term Trustees
to be elected to the Board of Trustees of PEN America
President: Andrew Solomon
Writer and Activist
Andrew Solomon is a writer and lecturer on politics, culture, and psychology, a professor of clinical psychology at Columbia University Medical Center, and the president of PEN America. He is the author of, most recently, Far and Away: Reporting from the Brink of Change, an anthology of his international reporting, and Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity, which received the National Book Critics Circle Award for nonfiction as well as more than 25 other national awards. His previous book, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, won the National Book Award and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist, and has been published in 24 languages. He is also the author of The Irony Tower: Soviet Artists in a Time of Glasnost, and of a novel, A Stone Boat. His writing appears frequently in The New Yorker and in The New York Times, and he is often on NPR. His TED talks have been viewed over 10 million times. Solomon is an activist in LGBT rights, mental health, education, and the arts. He is founder of the Solomon Research Fellowships in LGBT Studies at Yale University, and a member of the board of the National LGBTQ Force and Trans Youth Family Allies. Additionally, Solomon serves on the boards of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the World Monuments Fund, Yaddo, and The Alex Fund.
Executive Vice President: Markus Dohle
CEO of Penguin Random House
As CEO of Penguin Random House since July 1, 2013, Markus Dohle leads the world’s largest trade book publisher, with operations in 20 countries and sales into over 100. He oversees Penguin Random House’s worldwide publishing divisions, whose 250 editorially independent imprints publish 15,000 new adult and children’s fiction and nonfiction titles annually in English, German, Portuguese, and Spanish. Each year, Penguin Random House sells more than 700 million print, audio and e-books across the globe. Under Dohle, Penguin Random House’s mission is to foster a universal passion for reading by partnering with authors to help create stories and communicate ideas that inform, entertain, and inspire, and to connect them with readers across the globe. Penguin Random House’s worldwide roster of fiction and non-fiction writers includes many of the world’s most widely read and beloved authors, more than 70 Nobel Prize laureates, and over 100 Pulitzer Prize winners. As a member of the Bertelsmann Executive Board, Dohle and his Board colleagues are responsible for setting the strategic direction for one of the world’s foremost media companies. Additionally, he is Vice Chairman of the Association of American Publishers, and also serves on the Board of Directors of the National Book Foundation, and on the International Advisory Committee of the Atlantic Council.
Vice President: Masha Gessen
Writer and Activist
Masha Gessen is the author of, most recently, The Brothers: The Road to an American Tragedy, as well as seven other books including Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot and the international bestseller The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin. She is also the co-editor, with Joseph Huff-Hannon, of the anthology Gay Propaganda: Russian Love Stories. Born in Moscow, she emigrated to the United States in her teens, then returned to Russia a decade later. After 20 years in Moscow, she relocated to New York City in 2014. Writing in both Russian and English, she has covered every major development in Russian politics and culture of the past two decades, receiving numerous awards and fellowships in the process. She blogs for The New York Times and has written for The New York Review of Books, International Herald Tribune, The Guardian, U.S. News & World Report (where she served as Moscow Bureau Chief), Vanity Fair, The New Republic, Granta, and Slate. Gessen has also edited several Russian magazines and written for many more.
Vice President: Tracy Higgins
Tracy Higgins is a Professor of Law at Fordham Law School and the founder and co-director of the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice, the human rights center at Fordham. Higgins received her B.A. in Economics at Princeton and her J.D. at Harvard Law School. She was previously the Visiting Professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Law and the Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellow at Georgetown University Law Center. Higgins’ work has been published in numerous journals, including Fordham International Law Journal, Yale Journal of Law and Feminism, Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, and Harvard Law Review, among others. In 2011, Higgins co-edited The Future of African Customary Law with fellow PEN America Trustee Jeanmarie Fenrich and Paolo Galizzi. Since 1994 she has conducted human rights fieldwork in Afghanistan, Turkey, Hong Kong, Burma, Mexico, Ghana, Bolivia, Kenya, Romania, South Africa, and Malawi. Higgins is on the Board of Advisors at Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a former member of the Lawyer’s Committee for Human Rights, Trial Observation Delegation to Turkey, and a Women’s Studies Delegation to South Africa. Higgins is currently working on Regulatory Feminism: A Critique of State Power in Feminist Legal Theory and African Customary Law and Women’s Access to Property: A Case Study of Tanzania.
Treasurer: Yvonne Marsh
Yvonne Marsh has spent her career in private equity, corporate finance, restructuring and mergers, and acquisitions. She has completed over 60 transactions and served on over 20 for profit and not-for-profit boards. She has been a partner at Liberty Partners and Joseph, Littlejohn and Levy, a Managing Director at Chase Manhattan and an investment banker at Drexel Burnham Lambert and Merrill Lynch. Marsh graduated with Honors from Williams College and Harvard Business School. Marsh has been a PEN President’s Circle Member since 2014 and a PEN Authors’ Evening supporter beginning in 2007. She currently serves on the Board of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the Fay School, Stratton Mountain Watch Homeowners Association, and National School Climate Center.
TERM TRUSTEES (third 3-year terms)
Wendy Gimbel, a PhD in English Literature, has written about books for The New York Times, the Washington Post, The Nation, Parnassus, Vogue and Mirabella, among other publications. Gimbel is the author of two books. Edith Wharton: Orphancy and Survival is a volume in the Praeger series Landmark Dissertations in Women’s Lives. Havana Dreams: A Story of Cuba examines twentieth-century Cuba through the eyes of four generations of women in the same Havana family; it was chosen as one of the New York Times Notable Books of 1998. For many years, Gimbel served on the New York Public Library’s Council of Conservators. Currently, she is on the Boards of Parnassus: Poetry in Review and the Cuban Artists Fund.
Annette Tapert is the author and co-author of 11 books, including The Power of Style; The Power of Glamour: The Women Who Defined the Magic of Stardom; Slim: Memories of a Rich and Imperfect Life and Swifty: My Life and Good Times (with Irving Lazar). She is also the editor of Brothers’ War: Civil War Letters to Their Loved Ones from the Blue and Gray. She is a long-time style, fashion, and beauty writer; her articles have appeared in Architectural Digest, Town & Country, Harper’s Bazaar and House Beautiful and numerous other journals.
Chairman and CEO of Saratoga Partners
Chris Oberbeck is Chairman, CEO, and founder of Saratoga Partners, a New York-based private equity investment firm. His investment and Board of Director responsibilities include Advanced Lighting Technologies, Inc., Emeritus Corporation, Koppers Inc., CEMA Lighting Products India Pvt. Ltd., and Memen Pharmaceuticals, LLC. Oberbeck has been a Trustee since 1990 of a private foundation that donates primarily to education-oriented charities and scholarships. He started the Renaissance Scholars Fund at Exeter in 1997. He has been a member of the International Chapter of the Young Presidents’ Organization for many years.
TERM TRUSTEES (second 3-year terms)
President of Great Ink Communications, Ltd.
Roxanne Donovan is President of Great Ink, one of the country’s leading real estate-focused public relations firms, a business she founded in 1992. Her firm represents the full spectrum of the industry—commercial, residential, finance, legal, construction, design, advisory, information services, and trade organizations in New York and nationally. In addition to securing media coverage for her clients, she’s an expert in crisis communications, and is a branding advisor for companies and marketing consultant for their assets. She ran the real estate and economic development beat for the New York Daily News Business Section and served as National Senior Editor for Commercial Property News. She spent three years as Editor of Real Estate Weekly and reported for consumer magazines and daily newspapers, including the Syracuse Herald-Journal, SPIN, and Hamptons Magazine. Donovan served as Director of Corporate Communications for the Edward S. Gordon Company, Inc., the predecessor to Insignia/ESG and CBRE, the country’s largest commercial real estate concerns. Roxanne is a member of many professional, civic, and philanthropic organizations, including ULI, WX, the National Association of Real Estate Editors, the New York Advisory Council for the News Literacy Project, and the International Governing Board of Delta Phi Epsilon sorority. She is also a founding Board member of Uniting Against Lung Cancer, the country’s largest private source of funding for innovative lung cancer research.
Human Rights Lawyer
Jeanmarie Fenrich is the Director of Special Projects, Africa, at the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice at Fordham Law School. Fenrich previously acted as the Center’s Executive Director. From 2003 to 2006 she was the secretary of the International Human Rights Committee for the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, and she was previously an Adjunct Professor and Visiting Assistant Professor at Fordham Law School, where her principal subjects were Civil Procedure, UN Security Council & Enforcement of the UN Charter, and International Human Rights Drafting. Fenrich’s writing has been published in numerous publications including Fordham Law Review, Fordham International Law Journal, and Fordham Environmental Law Review. She co-edited The Future of African Customary Law with Tracy Higgins and Paolo Galizzi.
See under “Officer Trustees”
Managing Director of CCS Fundraising
Sevil Miyhandar joined CCS Fundraising in 1999 and currently serves as Corporate Vice President & Managing Director of the firm. She has experience working with international organizations, science research institutions, hospitals, social service and national advocacy organizations. She has assisted clients with fundraising, organizational development, leadership, and major donor programs and training. Miyhandar has raised millions of dollars on behalf of diverse social welfare causes from foundations, individuals, and corporations. She recently completed an assignment at Women for Women International, where she served as the on-site counsel charged with building both the U.S. and U.K. major donor programs to support the organization. Miyhandar has a degree in Political Studies from Bard College and also did undergraduate studies at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa. In her spare time, she participates in the NY Coed Soccer league, an adult recreational soccer league that she co-founded in 2004.
Theresa Rebeck is a widely produced playwright throughout the United States and abroad. New York productions of her work include Dead Accounts, Seminar, Mauritius, which won the 2007 IRNE Award for Best New Play and the Eliot Norton Award, The Scene, The Water’s Edge, Loose Knit, The Family of Mann, which won the National Theatre Conference Award, The Bells, which was awarded the William Inge New Voices Playwriting Award, and Spike Heels, Bad Dates, among others. A play she co-wrote, Omnium Gatherum, was the finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2003 and was featured at the Humana Festival. Rebeck has written three novels, Three Girls and Their Brother, Twelve Rooms with a View, and most recently, I’m Glad About You, and a book of comedic essays about writing and show business, Free Fire Zone. Rebeck has also written for television shows, produced feature films, and is the creator of the NBC drama Smash. Her awards include the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award, the Writer’s Guild of America award for Episodic Drama, the Hispanic Images Imagen Award, the Peabody, the PEN/Laura Pels Foundation Award, the Athena Film Festival Award, an Alex Award, and a Lilly Award. In 2011 she was named one of the 150 Fearless Women in the World by Newsweek. Rebeck is a Board member of the Dramatists Guild, a Contributing Editor to the Harvard Review, an Associate Artist of the Roundabout Theatre Company, and a Playwright Adviser and Board Member of the LARK. She has taught at Brandeis University and Columbia University and currently at the University of Houston.
TERM TRUSTEES (initial 3-year terms)
See under “Officer Trustees”
Philanthropist/Activist and Writer
Lauren Embrey is President and Philanthropic Visionary of The Embrey Family Foundation and CEO of Embrey Interests, Ltd. She serves on boards in Dallas, Washington DC, and New York City including The AT&T Performing Arts Center, The MS Foundation for Women and The Women’s Media Center. Embrey’s passion is theater, dance, film and human rights work. She produced the U.S. Premiere of Truth in Translation in 2007. She is Executive Producer for the documentary Playground, and a documentary on The Apollo Theater. She is involved in Chicken n Egg Pictures, Impact Partners and The Sundance Institute. Embrey is currently aiding in the development of The Global Arts Corps’ current theatrical production and is involved and in the development and production of a film on the life of Bert Williams. She has received many awards for her Philanthropic work, both at the community and national level, including The Women Who Give Hope Award from Chiapas International in 2010, Women’s e-news 21 Leaders for the 21st Century for Strategic Philanthropy in 2011, the MS Foundation’s Women of Vision Award for Philanthropy in 2013, She Should Run’s Wendy Award in 2014, and Nomi Network’s Abolitionist Award in 2016. Embrey is a member of The Clinton Global Initiative, The Women Donor’s Network, Women Moving Millions, The Threshold Foundation and Synergos Institute. She is currently working on her first fiction novel scheduled to be completed in early 2017.
Writer and Editor
Saeed Jones is BuzzFeed’s Executive Editor of Culture. His debut poetry collection Prelude To Bruise was the winner of the 2015 PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award For Poetry and the 2015 Stonewall Book Award/Barbara Gittings Literature Award, and a finalist for the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award. The collection was also a finalist for 2015 awards from the Lambda Literary and the Publishing Triangle. Jones also won a Pushcart Prize for poetry in 2013. His poetry and essays have appeared in publications including the New York Times, NPR, Guernica, Ebony, and Best American Poetry, among others.
Author and Head of Global Strategy of Envestnet
Zachary Karabell is Head of Global Strategy at Envestnet, a financial services firm, and author of The Leading Indicators: A Short History of the Numbers that Rule Our World. At River Twice Research, Karabell analyzes economic and political trends. He is also a senior advisor for Business for Social Responsibility. Previously, he was executive vice president, head of marketing, and chief economist at Fred Alger Management, a New York-based investment firm, and president of Fred Alger and Company, as well as portfolio manager of the China-U.S. Growth Fund. He was also executive vice president of Alger’s Spectra Funds, which launched the $30 million Spectra Green Fund based on the idea that profit and sustainability are linked. Educated at Columbia, Oxford, and Harvard, where he received his Ph.D., he is the author of several books, including Superfusion: How China and America Became One Economy and Why the World’s Prosperity Depends on It, The Last Campaign: How Harry Truman Won the 1948 Election, which won the Chicago Tribune Heartland Award, and Peace Be Upon You: The Story of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish Coexistence, which examined the forgotten legacy of peace among the three faiths. He sits on the Board of the World Policy Institute and the New America Foundation and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Dinaw Mengestu is an Ethiopian-American author of three novels, most recently All Our Names. His debut novel, The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears, won the Guardian First Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and was a New York Times Notable Book of 2007. He was a 2013 MacArthur Foundation Fellow and recipient of a 5 Under 35 award from the National Book Foundation. He was included on The New Yorker 20 Under 40 list in 2010. Mengestu is director of the Written Arts Program at Bard College. He has held the Lannan Chair of Poetics at Georgetown University and taught at Brooklyn College. He serves on the advisory Board of Warscapes, an independent online magazine, and was a judge for the 2012 National Book Awards. He is also a journalist whose work includes reporting from conflict-affected regions of Africa and has appeared in such publications as Harper’s, Granta, Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, and the Wall Street Journal.
Hanya Yanagihara is the author of The People in the Trees and A Little Life. She is a former editor-at-large for Conde Nast Traveler and deputy editor at The New York Times T Magazine. Her novel A Little Life won the 2015 Kirkus Prize, was a finalist for the National Book Award and the 2016 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. The People in the Trees was shortlisted for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize in 2014.