Ruth Dickey Named National Book Foundation Executive Director
(photo: Libby Lewis)
Ruth Dickey, who since 2013 has been executive director of Seattle Arts & Letters, has been named executive director of the National Book Foundation. She succeeds Lisa Lucas, who became senior v-p and publisher of Pantheon and Schocken Books at the beginning of the year and who is a board member of the Foundation.
Dickey will begin in her new position on May 17 to allow for a smooth transition from Seattle Arts & Lectures, whose annual gala is in April. National Book Foundation deputy director Jordan Smith will continue as interim executive director until then.
Before heading Seattle Arts & Lectures, Dickey was executive director of the Clifton Cultural Arts Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, and before that was executive director of New Futures in Burien, Wash., and executive director of Miriam's Kitchen in Washington, D.C. In 2019, Dickey served as a judge for the National Book Award for Fiction. Her first book, Mud Blooms (Harbor Mountain Press), won the MURA Award and a 2019 Silver Nautilus for books that make a better world and was a finalist for the National Poetry Series.
Foundation board chair David Steinberger said that Dickey "brings the ideal combination of expertise and experience to lead the Foundation and advance our unique mission. We were looking for a proven literary leader with a track record of engaging with a broad range of communities from all across our nation, and Ruth brings that and more to this role."
Steinberger also thanked Jordan Smith, "who continues to provide outstanding leadership for the Foundation during this transition, and to the entire staff at the National Book Foundation for all their incredible work."
Dickey commented: "I have greatly admired the National Book Foundation's expanded leadership role as a champion for reading and books, through innovative programs like Book Rich Environments and Literature for Justice. I am honored and thrilled to follow in Lisa Lucas's footsteps, and join the board and staff to lead the Foundation's next chapter of work in support of books and reading, and their critical role in our cultural landscape."
Lucas said, "Ruth Dickey's extraordinary skill set--developed over many years as an exceptional, thoughtful, and dynamic leader in the nonprofit literary space--is precisely what the National Book Foundation needs to charge forward. Her experiences working across the country help to remind us all that this work is for everyone, everywhere. Ruth is uniquely experienced, an effective and inclusive leader, and a great lover and champion of the written word."