UPDATED March 9, 2017

NEW YORK—PEN America has named to its Board of Trustees Lauren Embrey (President and CEO, Embrey Family Foundation), Saeed Jones (Culture Editor, BuzzFeed), Zachary Karabell (author, The Leading Indicators: A Short History of the Numbers that Rule Our World), Dinaw Mengestu (author, All Our Names), Hanya Yanagihara (author, A Little Life), and Markus Dohle (CEO, Penguin Random House), who will serve as Executive Vice President.

“As threats to free expression multiply in every corner of the world—public libraries, university campuses, foreign news bureaus, social media algorithms, and beyond—it is crucial to PEN America to engage an ever-widening community from the worlds of publishing, journalism, activism, and philanthropy to protect this freedom for all,” said Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director of PEN America. “We are thrilled to add the visionary leadership of Markus, Lauren, Saeed, Zachary, Dinaw, and Hanya to an already formidable Board of Trustees guiding PEN America’s path forward.”

Markus Dohle, CEO of Penguin Random House, 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. Mr. Dohle has been one of the world’s most vocal proponents of reading and the power of books to connect and change lives, and has ensured that promoting and protecting a diversity of voices lies at the foundation of Penguin Random House. In 2015, Mr. Dohle was recognized as PEN America’s Publisher Honoree for his commitment to defending free expression and access to literature. With his direction, Penguin Random House is a leading supporter of Banned Books Week, running September 25-October 21, 2016.

Lauren Embrey is President and Philanthropic Visionary of the Embrey Family Foundation and CEO of Embrey Interests, Ltd. Ms. Embrey’s passions are theater, dance, film, and human rights work. In 2007, she produced the U.S. premiere of “Truth in Translation,” a stage production exploring South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission through the eyes of its interpreters. She is Executive Producer for the documentary Playground, as well as a documentary on The Apollo Theater. She has been recognized for her philanthropic work by Chiapas International, Women’s eNews, the Ms. Foundation for Women, She Should Run, and the Nomi Network. Currently, Ms. Embrey is aiding in the development of a Global Arts Corps theatrical production and the production of a film on the life of Bert Williams. Her first fiction novel is forthcoming in early 2017.

Saeed Jones is BuzzFeed’s Executive Editor of Culture. His debut poetry collection Prelude To Bruise (Coffee House Press) 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 Lambda Literary and Publishing Triangle. Mr. Jones also won a Pushcart Prize for poetry in 2013. His poetry and essays have appeared in The New York Times, NPR, GuernicaEbony, and Best American Poetry, among others.

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. 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 ItThe 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.

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. Mr. Mengestu was a 2013 MacArthur Foundation Fellow, a recipient of a 5 Under 35 award from the National Book Foundation, and was included on The New Yorker 20 Under 40 list in 2010. He will become director of the Written Arts Program at Bard College this fall, and has previously held the Lannan Chair of Poetics at Georgetown University and taught at Brooklyn College. Mr. Mengestu 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 war-torn regions of Africa. His writing has appeared in such publications as Harper’sGrantaRolling StoneThe New Yorker, and The Wall Street Journal.

Hanya Yanagihara is the author of The People in the Trees (2013) and A Little Life (2015). 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.

PEN officers and trustees represent a “Who’s Who” of the literary, advocacy, and philanthropic sectors, including author Andrew Solomon who will serve another year as President.  In addition to Dohle, author-activist Masha Gessen and law professor Tracy Higgins will join the Executive Committee as Vice Presidents, and private investor Yvonne Marsh as Treasurer.

Five PEN America Trustees’ terms have come to an end, including Grove/Atlantic publisher Morgan Entrekin, historian Annette Gordon Reed, fundraising consultant Tess O’Dwyer, philanthropist John Troubh, and writer/producer Davis Weinstock.


PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.


Sarah Edkins, Deputy Director for Communications: [email protected], +1 (646) 779.4830