New York, NY (June 20, 2016) —The Academy of American Poets is pleased to announce two new members have joined its Board of Directors: Gerald Richards and Elizabeth Sobol. Both will join the other 15 current Directors of the organization, which has championed poets and poetry for more than three generations.

“We are thrilled to have Elizabeth and Gerald joining the leadership of the Academy of American Poets. In addition to both being innovators in their respective fields, they have a passion for poetry that will enrich our organization and its efforts,” said Michael Jacobs, Chairman of the Academy of American Poets.

Gerald Richards is the Chief Executive Officer of 826 National, where he oversees the strategic direction of affiliate organizations in seven cities nationwide, as well as the establishment of affiliates in additional cities.

With more than twenty years of management and development experience at national nonprofit organizations, Richards is a respected trainer and sought after speaker on topics of youth writing and creativity, and education access. He is interviewed regularly on these topics in articles featured in such publications as the Huffington Post and Inc. Magazine, as well as on television, appearing on NBC’s Nightly News, CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, and The Michael Eric Dyson Show. He has also served as an education expert for national marketing campaigns promoting creativity in and outside the classroom.

Richards has conducted trainings and presented at conferences including SXSWedu, TEDX: Constitution Drive, Opportunity Collaboration, American Education Research Association and Feria Internacional del Libro Infantil y Juvenile in Mexico City. He has represented 826 National at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) America, the PSFK Conference, the Big Ideas Fest, the Rhode Island School of Design and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

His nonprofit career includes positions with the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE); the United Negro College Fund (UNCF); University of California, San Francisco; the J. David Gladstone Institutes; Chicago Panel on Social Policy; and The Cradle Foundation. He has managed flourishing relationships and partnerships with corporate, foundation, education and governmental entities including Time Warner Cable, Citi, Merrill Lynch/Bank of America, the Lyles Center for Entrepreneurship at Fresno State, and the San Francisco Mayor’s Office.

Past accomplishments include: graduate of the Executive Education programs of Harvard Business School and Babson College; member of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and Ed Steps Curiosity and Creativity workgroup. He currently serves on the boards of Newbury College, the International Development Exchange (IDEX), and My Path SF, and previously served on the boards of the Woodland School, Juma Ventures and KIPP SF Bay Academy.

Richards has a BA in Film Studies from Wesleyan University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Born and raised in New York City, he lives in San Francisco.

Elizabeth Sobol, a music executive, was most recently the President and CEO of Universal Music Classics (UMC), where she was known for her passion for music, innovation and creativity. Sobol spearheaded the division’s revitalized commitment to the best that “classics” stands for—music rooted in the classical tradition, while also encompassing a variety of genres including contemporary, jazz, and world music. Under her leadership, UMC focused on U.S. based artists and repertoire signings, while remaining the American home of the prestigious Decca, Deutsche Grammophon, Mercury Classics, and ECM label. UMC was named Billboard’s #1 Classical Traditional Label in 2014, only one year after her appointment.  

Prior to her position at UMC, Sobol was Managing Director of IMG Artists North and South America. Having started with the company at its inception in 1984, she was instrumental in its growth into the premier global talent agency in the performing arts space—all the while putting together a personal management roster of artists which has included some of the biggest names in classical and world music—among them Itzhak Perlman, Renee Fleming, Joshua Bell, Hilary Hahn, Emerson String Quartet, James Galway, Evgeny Kissin, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and KODO.  In 1992, responding to a diversifying market, Sobol created the IMG Artists Dance Division, which quickly grew into a roster of dance clients which included The Bolshoi Ballet, Bill T Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, Pilobolus, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, Lyon Opera Ballet and Miami City Ballet, to name just a few.  Sobol also created and has overseen IMGA’s initiatives and growth in the areas of world music, jazz, contemporary music and music/dance theatricals. 

She is also a classically trained pianist herself.  While much of her working life has been in New York, she lives in Miami and originally hails from North Carolina.

About the Academy of American Poets

The Academy of American Poets is the largest membership-based nonprofit organization fostering an appreciation for contemporary poetry and supporting American poets. The organization produces, one of the world’s most popular websites for poets and poetry; National Poetry Month; the popular Poem-a-Day series; American Poets magazine; resources for K-12 educators; an annual series of poetry readings and special events; and awards the American Poets Prizes.