New York, February 18, 2009—Executive Director Michael Roberts announced today in a letter to the PEN membership that he would conclude his service as Executive Director at the end of the current program year on June 30 after an eleven-year career in the post.

Roberts commented, “There is never an ideal time to leave a wonderful position like this one, but I believe I must heed the wisdom embodied in PEN’s limits on officer and trustee service and make room for new energy and a fresh outlook in our professional leadership. . . I look forward to at least one more major assignment in my professional life, and the time to prepare that move is now.”

Before coming to PEN, Roberts was Secretary to the Governing Boards and Assistant to the President of Harvard University for seven years. Prior to that he served nine years as an attorney in Harvard’s Office of General Counsel.

Outgoing PEN President Francine Prose saluted Roberts’ decade of PEN leadership and hailed the development of an expanded and highly effective professional staff and an impressive growth in major programs. “Mike has done an exemplary job as Director. With his superb attention to detail, his sustained focus, and his unfailing readiness to attend to the largest and smallest needs, he has played a critical part in building PEN into an organization we’re all very proud of.”

Executive Vice President Laurence J. Kirshbaum pointed to Roberts’ guiding role in the launch of PEN World Voices Festival, major new initiatives in Freedom to Write, and a significant broadening of PEN’s national and international reputation. “Mike Roberts has worked with the Board to develop a long-range vision of where PEN needs to go and presided over a major expansion of both the budget and staff. His leadership has established a foundation on which his successor and future Trustees will continue to build. Everyone who cares about this organization owes him a profound debt.”

Kirshbaum added that the Board’s Executive Committee had established a search committee which would be seeking Roberts’ successor with the assistance of an executive search firm, James & Co. of New York. He invited PEN Members wishing to suggest candidates, or having other advice, to write to the Committee at penexecdir[email protected]

>> Read Mike Roberts’s letter to PEN Members

>> More about Executive Director position

Alena Graedon (212) 334-1660, ext. 103, [email protected]