Anthony Appiah Reelected as President of PEN
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New York City, March 17, 2011—PEN American Center, the largest branch of the world’s oldest literary and human rights organization, announced yesterday at its Annual Members Meeting the reelection of Kwame Anthony Appiah, the scholar, author, and critic, to another and final year as its president.
“My main goal in this last year as President, as in the first two,” Appiah said, “will be to support PEN in its pursuit of our central goals: the defense of free expression and the sustenance of literature’s connections within and across nations. We are continuing a strategic review of our programs and priorities. With new support from a variety of sources, we will be developing stronger links with PEN centers in places where free expression is especially at risk. We want to go on doing what we can for Liu Xiaobo, in particular, and China more generally, with the inspired support of Larry Siems, Director of our Freedom to Write Program, and Sarah Hoffman, its coordinator, and our friends at the Independent Chinese PEN Center. And, of course we’ll continue to keep our eye on our own government, pressing, among other things, for necessary reform of the Patriot Act.”
“It’s been a great pleasure working with the Board and the staff on these issues for the last two years,” Appiah added. “And I want to thank all the staff, and especially Steve Isenberg, our Executive Director, for getting us through a period of financial exigency and increasing workloads with professionalism, commitment and good humor. 2010 was the first full year that Steve has led us through and his performance makes me grateful every day for the good sense of the search committee that found him for us.”
The reelected and newly-elected Officer Trustees of the Board also include Executive Vice President John Troubh, founder of Troubh Partners, who replaces Larry J. Kirshbaum, founder of LJK Literary Management, whose terms on the Board were completed; Vice President Ron Chernow, the author, biographer, and former PEN President who replaces author Jessica Hagedorn; Vice President Victoria Redel, novelist and poet; Treasurer Maria B. Campbell, founder and director of Maria B. Campbell Associates, an international literary scouting agency; and Secretary Roxana Robinson, novelist and short story writer.
Reelected to PEN’s Board of trustees along with Appiah and the officers named above are Claudia Menza, Joanne Leedom-Ackerman, Walter Pozen, Hamilton Robinson, Jr., Annette Tapert, and Lynne Tillman. Trustees elected to their first full terms are Morgan Entrekin, Christian Oberbeck, Tess O’Dwyer, and Davis Weinstock, all of whom joined the Board in June of 2010. Anne Burt, Director of Communications and Public Affairs at Columbia University’s School of the Arts, playwright Theresa Rebeck, translator Susan Bernofsky, and poet, journalist, and human rights activist Rose Styron were newly elected to the Board.
The other members of the Board who continue their service, but were not up for election or reelection, are Wendy Gimbel, John Oakes, Hannah Pakula, Susanna Reich, Esmeralda Santiago, Elissa Schappell, Monique Truong, and Danielle Truscott.
The Membership also voted to enable the Board to amend PEN’s By-Laws while allowing Members, for the first time, to propose changes. Appiah said, “I have asked Beth Gutcheon who has been a sterling leader of our Committee on Trustees and who has completed two terms on the Board, to take up the task of leading a committee to help us update our By-laws so that they more accurately reflect our current practices and allow us to proceed more efficiently about our business. It’s not, perhaps, the most exciting task, but it’s absolutely central to moving PEN ahead. So I’m personally very grateful to her for agreeing to do it, as we all are for her years of fine work on the Board.”
Finally, Appiah pointed out that, as to the trustees who have finished two, three-year terms in addition to Beth Gutcheon’s continuing work on the By-laws Committee, Larry Kirshbaum will carry on with his leadership role on the Gala, and Michael Moore will now chair the Translation Fund Advisory Committee. “It’s especially generous of these two, who have worked so hard on the Board for six years, to be willing to go on working with us and for us in these important ways,” Appiah said.
Kwame Anthony Appiah grew up in Ghana and in England. He is the author of Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers, among many other books—including three mystery novels and several works in philosophy and cultural studies—and he co-edited the Dictionary of Global Culture and Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African American Experience. A professor of philosophy at Princeton, Appiah is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He chairs the Board of the American Council of Learned Societies and he chaired PEN’s Freedom to Write Committee from 1996 to 2003. Having recently published a book on honor, he has turned to finishing a short book on the ideas of W. E. B. Dubois.
PEN American Center is the United States branch of International PEN, which was founded in 1921 as a response to the ethnic and national divisions that culminated in the First World War. Since its founding, PEN has worked to promote international understanding through the promotion of literature and the defense of free expression. PEN American Center was founded in 1922 and is the largest of the 144 PEN centers in 102 countries that constitute International PEN. Its distinguished members carry on the contributions and achievements of such past members as W.H. Auden, James Baldwin, Willa Cather, Robert Frost, Allen Ginsberg, Langston Hughes, Thomas Mann, Arthur Miller, Marianne Moore, Eugene O’Neill, Susan Sontag, and John Steinbeck. Recent presidents include Francine Prose, Ron Chernow, and Salman Rushdie.