Lisa Lucas has recently been named the new Executive Director Of The National Book Foundation.
Lucas, 36, is the first African American woman to hold this position in the literary organization. The National Book Foundation, which was founded in 1986, has only had three executive directors in its history. The organization, which aims “to raise the cultural appreciation of great writing in America,” elected Neil Baldwin to serve as the first executive director up until 2003. His successor, Harold Augenbraum, is set to retire in the coming months, making way for Lucas to serve in mid March.
In an interview with The New York Times, Lucas shared she will continue to support the organization’s initiatives. Her role will include “overseeing the inclusion of more women and authors of color as recipients of the National Book Awards.” The prestigious award has honored literary excellence dating back to 1950. “Readers are everything, readers are everyone. It should be about building one big massive audience that’s reflective of where we live” Lucas shared.
Lisa Lucas has an extensive background in literature. Previously she served as the publisher of Guernica, an arts and political magazine. She also has experience working for non-profit organizations that focus on culture. One of those organizations is the world renowned Tribeca Film Festival and the Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago. In an interview with NPR, Lucas explained why her new role means so much. “It has just been an ecstatic joy to be able to do work in service of readers…it just feels like an extraordinary opportunity to build on the work they’ve done, and to keep figuring out ways to engage readers.”
Reading is fundamental, as the old adage goes. As more eyes are starting to prefer screens over pages, it’s important that dedicated visionaries like Lucas are present. Lucas is proving that excellence is more than what money can buy, but what drives your passion. Lucas is making Black history in literature and proving African American women can make strides in any industry. For more information on the National Book Foundation you can visit their website at NationalBook.org.