New York, NY, August 3, 2009—PEN American Center, the largest branch of International PEN—the world’s oldest literary and human rights organization—today announced the appointment of Steven L. Isenberg as Executive Director, effective immediately. For the past six years, Mr. Isenberg was a Visiting Professor of Humanities at the University of Texas (Austin). During his distinguished career, Mr. Isenberg has served in a variety of leadership roles in journalism, government, academia, and law, including prior positions as interim President and Chairman of the Board of Adelphi University, Publisher of New York Newsday, Executive Vice President of the Los Angeles Times, and as Chief of Staff to New York City Mayor John V. Lindsay.

“In a richly varied career, Steven Isenberg has demonstrated over and over again that he is imbued—as PEN is—with a love of literature and an unyielding commitment to free expression around the world,” said the President of PEN American Center’s Board of Trustees, Kwame Anthony Appiah. “He has taught British and American literature and written elegantly about the poets who have always inspired him. As a former newsman, he knows from first hand experience why freedom of expression matters, and as a member of the board of The Committee to Protect Journalists, Steve understands the critical importance of organizations dedicated to protecting it. He combines this vision with long experience as an effective and inspiring leader. I couldn’t be more delighted to welcome him to the executive directorship of our organization.”

In response to his selection, Mr. Isenberg said: “PEN’s membership and activities have long been wed in the service of free expression and the promotion of literature. PEN’s history and spirit reflect a strong dedication to the arena of human rights and the celebration of free voices and views. I am honored to have a part in both sustaining that tradition, and in helping to widen the national and international awareness of PEN and engagement in its exemplary work.”

PEN American Center’s 3,300 distinguished members carry on the human rights and public service achievements of such past presidents as Robert Frost, Jerzy Kosinski, Norman Mailer, and Susan Sontag, and such activist members as James Baldwin, Willa Cather, Allen Ginsberg, Langston Hughes, Arthur Miller, Marianne Moore, Eugene O’Neill, Grace Paley, and John Steinbeck.

Mr. Isenberg succeeds Michael Roberts, who resigned in June after 11 years to pursue a new career interest.

In addition to his previously stated roles, Mr. Isenberg served as publisher of The Stamford Advocate & Greenwich Time, and was a litigator at Breed, Abbott & Morgan. He has taught at numerous academic institutions, including Berkeley, Yale, Davidson, The New School, and Polytechnic University in Brooklyn, and was a Reuters Fellow at Green College in Oxford (England). In 2007 he won the University of Texas’ Teaching Excellence Award for the College of Liberal Arts. 

Mr. Isenberg is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, serves on the Advisory Council of the University of Texas’ Harry Ransom Center, one of the world’s great literary archives, and is Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Trustees at Adelphi University. He holds a bachelor’s in English from the University of California (Berkeley), a master’s in English from Worcester College, Oxford University, and a J.D. from Yale Law School. Mr. Isenberg was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters by Adelphi University and is an Honorary Fellow of Worcester College, Oxford. He lives in New York City with his wife, Barbara, founder and president of the North American Bear Company.