Minutes of the Annual General Meeting 
PEN American Center
588 Broadway, Suite 303
March 10, 2016


I. Welcome remarks from PEN President Andrew Solomon
II. Election of the 2016 Board of Trustees
III. Finance Report from Director of Finance
IV. Membership Update, 2015 Highlights & Festival Update from Membership Manager
V. Closing remarks from Executive Director

I. Welcome remarks from PEN President Andrew Solomon

• Paul Morris, Director of Literary Programs, introduced Jamie Burns, Membership Engagement Manager. Jamie Burns welcomed all meeting attendees, and introduced PEN President Andrew Solomon.
• Andrew Solomon reported on highlights in the organization during his first year as president:
o Six reports on free expression challenges such as global mass surveillance, LGBT rights in Nigeria, and the state of expression and creativity in Russia.
o PEN also put on more than 100 public programs, including our most recent event, Muslim in America, which was co-presented with WNYC at The Greene Space and hosted a frank conversation on contemporary Muslim identity. 
o PEN’s Prison Writing Program reached more than 20,000 incarcerated men and women and continues to expand.
o We have launched the “PEN Equity Project,” an equity in publishing initiative that encourages writers and publishers to explore the theme of diversity in their work.
o PEN held a protest on the steps of the New York Public Library during Book Expo America to call attention to censorship in China.
o Throughout all of this work, PEN continues to build a more fair and balanced world. The growth of PEN’s membership means that the organization commands more attention when advocating on behalf of writers worldwide, and we have heard from these writers that the knowledge that we’re paying attention abroad means that they are treated more fairly.
o We are eager to hear from our expanding membership regarding what PEN can do for members.

II. Election of the 2016 Board of Trustees

• Jamie Burns introduced Martha Cooley and Renee Zuckerbrot of PEN’s Membership Committee, who read the results of the 2016 election:
• The following officer was elected to the board: Theresa Rebeck, Secretary.
• The following trustees were elected to the board for an initial three-year term: Ayad Akhtar, Gabrielle De Ferrari, Elizabeth Hemmerdinger, Sean Kelly, Yvonne Marsh, Alexandra Munroe.
• The following trustees were elected for their second three-year terms: Jennifer Egan, Nathan Englander, Errol McDonald, Andrew Solomon.

III. Finance Report from Director of Finance 

• Jamie Burns introduced Jessica Paz, Director of Finance.
• PEN experienced tremendous growth in 2013 of 47%, and has experienced a steady 10% every year thereafter.
• 2014 revenue was $4.6M, and 2015 revenue was $4.85M.
• The 2016 budget is $5.3M. This is a strong and conservative budget, not including grants approved in Q1 in 2016, or submitted proposals.
• Expenses are also under control, resulting in a surplus for the last two years.
• Cash reserves and cash balances are also healthy, thanks in part to proceeds from the First Editions/Second Thoughts auction of annotated first edition books, which grossed $1M. Cash reserves from the auction will help fund capital improvements and capital expenditures in 2016.
• In addition, Jessica Paz is constantly reviewing processes and implementing improvements wherever possible: for example, eliminating manual transactions and providing consistent reporting to Department Directors.

IV. Membership Update, 2015 Highlights & Festival Update from Membership Manager

• Jamie Burns provided a membership update, and review of 2015.
• Last fall, PEN re-launched Lit Crawl NYC with the help of more than 20 curating partners from New York’s literary community. We produced an event at Housing Works Bookstore attended by more than 350 people, and look forward to carrying on this tradition.
• PEN’s Literary Awards program will provide $200,000 in grants and awards this year, to an array of both emerging and established writers, and has been widely praised for its diversity.
• PEN has been offering professional development workshops for our members, and will continue to offer these programs and opportunities in 2016.
• In 2015, for the first time, the World Voices Festival was presented with a regional focus on Africa. The 2016 Festival, which will take place from April 25-May 1, will focus on Mexico, bringing together 150 writers from over 30 countries. Some featured writers at this festival include Boris Akunin, Elizabeth Alexander, Carmen Boullosa, Lydia Cacho, Francisco Goldman, Marlon James, Jamaica Kincaid, Valeria Luiselli, Walter Mosley, Paul Muldoon, Richard Price, Salman Rushdie, and Colm Tóibín.
• Last year, nearly 8,500 people attended the festival. Discounted tickets are available for members, and you can volunteer with the festival to get involved with behind-the-scenes festival production. The most updated schedule of festival events is available at penworldvoices.org.
• At the 2016 World Voices Festival, we are partnering with performance artist Sheryl Oring to present a piece in Bryant Park titled “I Wish to Say.” As part of this project, 100 writers and PEN advocates will type up letters dictated by members of the public to presidential candidates. Selected letters will be read aloud on stage in Bryant Park. More information on how to volunteer for this event will be sent next week.
• Original content is being constantly published on PEN.org including the PEN Poetry Series, PEN Ten Interviews, the PEN/Guernica Flash Series, and a new graphic narrative series titled the “Illustrated PEN.” You can also find audio and video from many previous events on PEN.org.
• In February, we celebrated our annual New Members/New Books Party at powerHouse Arena in Brooklyn, which brought together 300 PEN Members, and 250 books published by members in 2015.
• PEN’s current total members is higher than it’s ever been at 4,400. Since our last Annual General Meeting, we’ve welcomed 900 new Professional Members. In 2015, we welcomed 550 new Professional Members, which was a record at the time. We are currently at 130 new members, and looking forward to another great year as we continue to increase and diversify our membership.

V. Closing Remarks from Executive Director

• Jamie Burns welcomed PEN Executive Director Suzanne Nossel to make closing remarks.
• Membership is the foundation of PEN: people pay attention when PEN speaks out or issues a report because people know that we stand for an extraordinary and increasingly diverse community of writers.
• The membership engagement and expansion that we have done in the last year was the result of a membership survey that will be repeated this year. • Suzanne Nossel asked meeting attendees to save the date for the May 16th Gala, the largest source of general financial support for PEN, where we will be honoring JK Rowling, and two women who helped to expose the Flint water crisis – LeeAnne Walters, and Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha.