The Poetry Foundation seeks a President to lead this thriving and vital independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. Publisher of Poetry magazine, the oldest monthly publication devoted to verse in the English-speaking world, the Poetry Foundation has its roots in the heart of poetic verse, and has grown to encompass programming and media dedicated to fulfilling the mission of the organization to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience. Established in 2003 upon receipt of a major gift from philanthropist Ruth Lilly, the Poetry Foundation evolved from the Modern Poetry Association, which was founded in 1941 to support the publication of Poetry magazine. The gift from Ruth Lilly has allowed the Poetry Foundation to expand and enhance the presence of poetry in America and has established an endowment that will fund the magazine and the organization’s programs in perpetuity. The Foundation employs 22 full time staff, and has a 2015 operating budget of $9.3M and an endowment of $200M. Last year programming and publication activities reached almost 400,000 constituents in Chicago, the United States, and beyond, while digital and other media resources reached over 44 million readers, listeners, and viewers.
The President, reporting to the 15 member Board of Trustees, will take charge of a relatively young operating foundation that has tremendous opportunity to grow into the fulfillment of its mission. Keenly aware of the profound responsibility of shepherding an organization with a significant endowment, the Board has crafted a sound organizational and financial framework for the Foundation in the twelve years since the Lilly gift. Now, with a solid footing and with the magazine and public programs thriving and evolving, the collective challenge for the organization is to identify, define, and evaluate its desired, mission-driven outcomes. The next President is expected to provide strategic, forward-looking leadership toward that end, and to work effectively with board, staff and external partners to lead the Poetry Foundation into its next ten years, and Poetry magazine into its next one hundred years. The President must have a love of poetry as an art form and be able to inspire and bring people together around poetry and the written and spoken word. This position calls for someone with demonstrated experience in successfully managing a private sector or nonprofit entity, capacity to effectively manage a sophisticated staff of creative people, and demonstrated experience working effectively with boards. The candidate must possess artistic and intellectual curiosity and breadth, strategic leadership skills and successful managerial experience, top-notch communication skills, strong financial acumen, and an enterprising spirit.
The Poetry Foundation has retained Isaacson, Miller to assist in this search. All inquiries, nominations, and applications should be directed in strict confidence to: www.imsearch.com/5558.
The Poetry Foundation is an equal opportunity employer and values the perspectives and talents of a diverse staff.