IV. Biographies of Candidates
Slate of PEN America Officers and Term Trustees
to be elected to the Board of Trustees of PEN America
President: Jennifer Egan
Jennifer Egan is the author of A Visit From the Goon Squad, which won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, and the LA Times Book Prize. Her most recent work, Manhattan Beach, was longlisted for the 2017 National Book Award in Fiction and won the Carnegie Medal for literary excellence in fiction. Other works include: The Invisible Circus, a novel that became a feature film starring Cameron Diaz in 2001; Look at Me, a finalist for the National Book Award in fiction in 2001; The Keep; and Snowball: Watch Out! Light and Dark Stories for the Season. Her short stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, Granta, McSweeney’s, The Best American Short Stories, and other magazines and books. She is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Fiction, and a Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Fellowship at the New York Public Library. Her nonfiction articles appear frequently in The New York Times Magazine, and her 2002 cover story on homeless children received the Carroll Kowal Journalism Award. Her article, “The Bipolar Kid,” received a 2009 NAMI Outstanding Media Award for Science and Health Reporting from the National Alliance on Mental Illness. She was born in Chicago and raised in San Francisco. She joined the PEN America Board in 2012.
Secretary: Ayad Akhtar
Ayad Akhtar is a playwright, screenwriter, and author, whose play Disgraced won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play. His work American Dervish was named a 2012 Best Book of the Year by Kirkus Reviews, Toronto Globe and Mail, Shelf Awareness, and O (Oprah) Magazine and has been published in more than 20 languages worldwide. His latest play is Junk: The Golden Age of Debt, which premiered at La Jolla Playhouse in August 2016 and opened on Broadway at the Vivian Beaumont Theater of The Lincoln Center in late 2017. As a screenwriter, he was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay for The War Within. He has been the recipient of fellowships from MacDowell and Yaddo, as well as commissions from Lincoln Center Theater and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. He was the featured author for a PEN President’s Circle Author’s Evening in Fall 2014. He was born in New York City and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He joined the PEN America Board in 2015.
TERM TRUSTEES (third 3-year terms)
Chairman, Slate Group
Jacob Weisberg is chairman of the Slate Group and was the editor of Slate from 2002 until 2008, covering the 1996 and 2000 presidential campaigns. Before joining Slate in 1996, he worked as a writer and editor at The New Republic and reported on politics for New York Magazine. He has also been a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, a contributing editor of Vanity Fair, a reporter for Newsweek in London and Washington, and an editorial page columnist for the Financial Times. Since 2010, he has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Philadelphia Media Network, which publishes The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News. Weisberg is also a former member of the Boards of the American Society of Magazine Editors and the Hudson Highlands Land Trust. He is the author of several books, including Ronald Reagan: The American Presidents Series: The 40th President and The Bush Tragedy, which was a New York Times best seller in 2008. With former Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin, he cowrote In an Uncertain World, published in 2003. His first book, In Defense of Government, was published in 1996. He joined the PEN America Board in 2011.
TERM TRUSTEES (second 3-year terms)
Writer and Activist
Masha Gessen is the author, most recently, of The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia, which won the National Book Award in nonfiction in 2017. Her other books include The Brothers: The Road to an American Tragedy, Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot, and the international best seller 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 immigrated to the United States in her teens and then returned to Russia a decade later. After 20 years in Moscow, she relocated to New York City in 2014. Writing in both English and Russian, she has covered every major development in Russian politics and culture of the past two decades. She contributes regularly to The New Yorker, The New York Times, and The New York Review of Books, and her work has appeared in The Guardian, U.S. News & World Report (for which she served as Moscow Bureau Chief), Vanity Fair, The New Republic, Granta, and Slate, among others. Gessen also provides translation for the FX drama The Americans. She is a visiting professor at Amherst College and the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Andrew Carnegie Fellowship, and a Nieman Fellowship. She joined the PEN America Board in 2014.
Tom Healy is an award-winning poet, essayist, and educator. He served as chairman of the international Fulbright scholars program under President Barack Obama, traveling to 40 countries to promote the exchange of artists, scientists, and scholars, and remains on the Executive Committee. He is the author of Animal Spirits and What the Right Hand Knows, which was a finalist for the 2009 LA Times Book Prize and the Lambda Literary Award. Two books of his essays are forthcoming: Not Untrue, Not Unkind, reflections on friendship, and The Rest of the World, an examination of U.S. public diplomacy efforts to engage the American people with citizens of other countries. Healy served on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS under President Bill Clinton. He has also had a distinguished career in the arts, including a pioneering gallery in Manhattan’s Chelsea arts district and a leadership role in rebuilding New York’s downtown arts community after 9/11, for which he received the 2005 New York City Mayor’s Award for Arts and Culture from Michael Bloomberg. Healy has taught on the faculties of NYU, The Pratt Institute, and The New School. He joined the PEN America Board in 2014.
Paul Muldoon is the author of 12 books of poems, including One Thousand Things Worth Knowing, Moy Sand, and Gravel, for which he won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize. A native of Northern Ireland, he was recently named the winner of the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2017. He was Poetry Editor of The New Yorker from 2007 until 2017, and is Howard G.B. Clark ’21 University Professor in the Humanities at Princeton University. He was a Professor of Poetry at Oxford University from 1999 to 2004. His work has been translated into 20 languages, and also includes criticism, opera libretti, books for children, song lyrics, and radio and television dramas. In addition to readings and lectures, he occasionally appears with a spoken word music group, Rogue Oliphant. Muldoon is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has also received an American Academy of Arts and Letters award in literature, the 1994 T. S. Eliot Prize, the 1997 Irish Times Poetry Prize, the 2003 Griffin International Prize for Excellence in Poetry, the 2004 American Ireland Fund Literary Award, the 2004 Shakespeare Prize, the 2005 Aspen Prize for Poetry, and the 2006 European Prize for Poetry. He joined the PEN America Board in 2014.
CEO of Hachette
Michael Pietsch has been Chief Executive Officer of Hachette Book Group since 2013. He entered publishing with David R. Godine, Publisher, in Boston, and in 1979 came to New York to work as an editor for Charles Scribner’s Sons. In 1985, Pietsch moved to Harmony Books, an imprint of Crown Publishing. He joined Little, Brown in 1991, was appointed Editor-in-Chief in 1998, and became Publisher in 2001. Pietsch has brought out best sellers by James Bradley, Tina Fey, Malcolm Gladwell, Elin Hilderbrand, Stephenie Meyer, Ian Rankin, Keith Richards, J.K. Rowling, Alice Sebold, David Sedaris, Dr. Andrew Weil, and many others. He worked with David Foster Wallace on his novel Infinite Jest and edited his posthumous novel The Pale King, a Pulitzer Prize finalist. He has acquired and edited thrillers by James Patterson, Michael Connelly, George Pelecanos, Walter Mosley, and Michael Koryta, and in 2012 he oversaw the launch of Mulholland Books, a suspense fiction imprint. At Hachette, he has overseen the acquisitions of Perseus Books, Black Dog & Leventhal, and Hyperion Books. Pietsch serves on the boards of Poets and Writers, Bookish, the Association of American Publishers, and is Board Chairman of World Book Night. He joined the PEN America Board in 2014.
Laura Baudo Sillerman
Foundation President, Writer
Laura Baudo Sillerman is a writer active in many cultural and educational organizations. She is Chairman of the Education Committee of The American Museum of Natural History, where she also serves on the Board and the task force for the Twenty-First Century Campaign. She is a member of the Board of Trustees of Harlem Academy and a member of the advisory boards of Stony Brook University’s Southampton Campus, The Southampton Writers Conference, and The Southampton Review, as well as the Poetry Society of America. Along with her husband, Robert F.X. Sillerman, she is a founder of The Sillerman Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy at Brandeis University, where she serves as consultant to the Center. She is a co-founder of The African Poetry Fund and Series with Kwame Dawes and the underwriter of the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets. She is also a founding Board member and the poetry editor of Women’s Voices for Change. She has served as a trustee of Marietta College and on numerous advisory boards and ad hoc committees of that institution. She was a member of the advisory committee for the Unterberg Poetry Center of the 92nd Street Y for a decade and a judge of the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Her poems and essays have appeared in numerous publications in print and online. She joined the PEN America Board in 2014.
TERM TRUSTEES (initial 3-year terms)
Jennifer Finney Boylan
Writer and Professor
Jennifer Finney Boylan is the author of 15 books and the inaugural Anna Quindlen Writer-in-Residence at Barnard College of Columbia University. Her column appears on the op-ed page of The New York Times on alternate Wednesdays. She served on the Board of Directors of GLAAD 2011–18, and as cochair 2013–17. She also served on the Board of Trustees of the Kinsey Institute for Research on Sex, Gender, and Reproduction from 2012–16. She was a cast member on I Am Cait, the reality series on E!, and served as an advisor to the Amazon series Transparent. Her latest novel is this year’s Long Black Veil. Her 2003 memoir, She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders, was the first best-selling work by a transgender American. Boylan has made numerous television appearances and also been the subject of documentaries on CBS News’s 48 Hours and The History Channel. She served on the 2017 PEN World Voices Festival curatorial committee.
Margaret Munzer Loeb
Filmmaker, Philanthropist, and Activist
Margaret Munzer Loeb is a filmmaker and philanthropist engaged on issues of reproductive freedom, education, criminal justice reform, and LGBT rights. She serves on the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of the Ethical Culture Fieldston School and is a member of the Board of Prep for Prep and the President’s Advisory Council on the Arts at Brown University, her undergraduate alma mater. She previously served on the Boards of the National Institute for Reproductive Health and the Center for Reproductive Rights. Together with her husband, Daniel Loeb, she has supported numerous organizations to improve access for all children to high-quality education and to promote the performing and visual arts, among other causes. Margaret began her career in commercial film production and recently found her way back to film, founding and managing MML Productions, for which she is currently executive producing and directing a documentary feature film. She also earned a master’s degree from the New York University Silver School of Social Work.