New York, NY (June 21, 2023)—The Academy of American Poets, a leading publisher of contemporary poetry and funder of poets in the United States, is pleased to announce that it has selected Ricardo Alberto Maldonado to be its next Executive Director and President in a history-making appointment. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Maldonado is the first Latino to lead the Academy since its founding in 1934. He will begin his new role at the organization on July 17, 2023.
“We searched for a leader who was not merely seeking a job in poetry, but who was already fully invested in living out the vocation of poetry. As a poet, translator, and arts administrator, Ricardo Maldonado brings to the Academy of American Poets an intense passion for our mission, stellar nonprofit leadership experience, strong project management skills, a commitment to education and community-building, and a depth of knowledge about American poetry from the nineteenth century poets to the cutting-edge voices of today,” said Board Chair Tess O’Dwyer. “The Board of Directors voted unanimously and enthusiastically to appoint Ricardo based on our belief that he will not only sustain the Academy’s marvelous array of poetry offerings but will also strengthen, expand, and deepen them in the years to come.”
Maldonado currently serves as the co-director of 92NY’s Unterberg Poetry Center in New York City, where he produces one of the nation’s most prestigious reading series, as well as a curriculum of workshops for emerging writers and an annual poetry contest that, throughout the years, has launched the careers of major poets. He founded the Center’s Young Writers Workshop, a three-week program for high school students; a teacher’s workshop focusing on making poetry accessible to young readers through curriculum design; and a residency for Spanish-speaking poets. Since 2020, he has spearheaded 92NY’s online seminar curriculum, drawing thousands of scholars and readers from all over the world for literary discussions, lectures, and panels. He was a founding member of the organization’s DEI committee, overseeing staff training and supporting implementation of organization-wide initiatives, with an emphasis on collaboration between programmatic, support, and service centers. Among his projects of note, he coedited A New Colossus, an online anthology of emerging voices celebrating Emma Lazarus’s work, which was featured in the New York Times, as well as Joy and Hope and All That, a tribute to the iconic American poet Lucille Clifton.
About his appointment, Maldonado said, “I owe a debt of gratitude to the Academy of American Poets. Like the many millions of poets, educators, and readers across the world who have used its resources since 1934, I believe, to quote the Salvadoran poet Roque Dalton, ‘that poetry, like bread, is for everyone.’ As poetry becomes increasingly available and more vital to our national conversation, and as the Academy looks toward its ninetieth anniversary in 2024, I am honored to carry forward the organization’s mission of serving readers and supporting poets at all stages of their careers. I look forward to joining forces with the Academy’s staff, Board of Directors, and Board of Chancellors—many of whom have mentored me—to keep finding the essence of poetry in our world, and to reflect on how art can responsibly shape how we see ourselves in the present and into the future.”
Academy Chancellor Marie Howe said, “Ricardo is a brilliant and gracious human being, and I’m overjoyed to learn that he will lead the Academy of American Poets as the next Executive Director and President.”
“For sixteen years, Ricardo has stirred the lifeblood of 92NY, the Poetry Center, and its community of writers and readers,” said Bernard Schwartz, co-director of the Unterberg Poetry Center. “And never was that more true—more life-giving—than during the pandemic, when he worked day and night to keep the community together, making sure we all had a safe place to be, providing not just ballast, but also beauty. While the 92nd Street Y will miss him terribly, I’m incredibly excited to witness this thrilling new chapter.”
About Ricardo Alberto Maldonado
A graduate of Tufts and Columbia University's School of the Arts, Ricardo Alberto Maldonado is a seasoned translator whose titles include Dinapiera Di Donato’s Colaterales/Collateral (National Poetry Series / Akashic Books). He is also a poet whose collection, The Life Assignment (Four Way Books, 2020), was a finalist for the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award, one of Remezcla’s Best Books by Latine or Latin American Authors, and a Silver Medalist for the Juan Felipe Herrera Best Poetry Book Award. Among his high-profile artistic collaborations is a new choral and orchestral piece by Angélica Negrón titled “You Are the Prelude,” which was performed at the reopening gala of New York Philharmonic’s David Geffen Hall.
Maldonado is the board chair of the Poetry Project and serves on the board of directors of the New York Foundation for the Arts and on the poetry committee of the Brooklyn Book Festival. He is the recipient of fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, CantoMundo, Queer|Art|Mentorship, and the T. S. Eliot and Hawthornden Foundations. He was coeditor of Puerto Rico en mi corazón, a bilingual anthology that raised funds for grassroots recovery efforts in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. He is currently part of El proyecto de la literatura puertorriqueña/The Puerto Rican Literature Project, a forthcoming online database collecting the creative output of Puerto Rican poets in the diaspora and archipelago, developed in partnership with the University of Houston’s Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Program and the Mellon Foundation.
About the Search
Arts Consulting Group, an executive search firm that specializes in creative industries, led a competitive national search process in close concert with the Academy’s Search Committee, which was composed of the following members of the Board of Directors: Alexandra Jackson, James Johnson, Camille Lannan, Tess O’Dwyer, Gerald Richards, and Elizabeth Sobol.
The Board extends appreciation to Len Ejiogu, the Academy’s Senior Vice President of Finance and Administration, for leading the management team as Interim Director of Internal Affairs during the vacancy and search process.
About the Academy of American Poets
Founded in 1934, the Academy of American Poets is the nation’s leading champion of poets and poetry with supporters in all fifty states and beyond. The organization annually awards $1.3+ million to more than two hundred poets at various stages of their careers through its prize program, which includes the Poet Laureate Fellowships. The organization also produces Poets.org, the world’s largest publicly funded website for poets and poetry; established and organizes National Poetry Month each April; publishes the popular Poem-a-Day series and American Poets magazine; provides free resources to K–12 educators, including the award-winning weekly Teach This Poem series; hosts an annual series of poetry readings and special events; and coordinates a national Poetry Coalition that promotes the value poets bring to our culture. To learn more about the Academy of American Poets, including its staff, its Board of Directors, and its Board of Chancellors, visit: https://poets.org.