New York, NY (November 3, 2022)—The Academy of American Poets is pleased to announce that four new members have joined its Board of Directors: Frederick Luis Aldama, Sidney Clifton, Tracie D. Hall, and Albert Lee.
“We’re jazzed that Frederick, Sidney, Tracie, and Albert have joined the Academy’s Board. They are esteemed in their fields, devoted to poetry and the literary arts, and will bring fresh perspectives as we look to the Academy’s ninetieth anniversary in 2024,” said Tess O’Dwyer, Chair of the Board.
“I’m abundantly grateful to our new Board members for lending their expertise to the Academy of American Poets. From championing Latinx, BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and emerging creators to advocating for the importance of access to stories and poems, with Frederick, Sidney, Tracie, and Albert joining our other devoted Board members, the Academy is well poised to grow its important work in the literary field,” said Jen Benka, Executive Director and President of the Academy of American Poets.
In addition, two Academy Chancellors—Nikky Finney and Carolyn Forché—have been elected as new ex officio members of the Board of Directors. They join Kwame Dawes whose ex officio term has been renewed.
The Academy of American Poets’ Board of Directors is an elected group of individuals who are national advocates for poetry and enthusiastic proponents of the organization’s mission to support poets at all stages of their careers and to foster the appreciation of contemporary poetry. Board members play an integral role in strategic planning, financial oversight, and fundraising activities, and serve a term of three years.
The new Board members are:
Frederick Luis Aldama, the Jacob & Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities at the University of Texas, Austin who also holds an adjunct University Distinguished Professor appointment at The Ohio State University. He is the recipient of the 2019 Rodica C. Botoman Award for Distinguished Teaching and Mentoring, the Susan M. Hartmann Mentoring and Leadership Award, and an Eisner Award for Best Scholarly Work. He has authored or edited more than forty books, including Latinx Superheroes in Mainstream Comics and other works on Latinx formalist poetry, the Latinx vanguard, and Latinx queer literature. He is the author of fictional works such as Long Stories Cut Short: Fictions from the Borderlands, The Adventures of Chupacabra Charlie, and Con Papá / With Papá. He is also the editor of Latinographix, a series at The Ohio State University Press that publishes Latinx graphic fiction and nonfiction. He is the co-creator of the documentary film Latinx Superheroes in Mainstream Comics and the animation short Carlitos Chupacabra. He is founder and director of UT Austin’s Latinx Pop Lab and BIPOC Pop: Symposium & Expo; founded the Obama White House award-winning LASER: Latinx Space for Enrichment & Research; and sits on the board of BreakBread Literacy Project, a program dedicated to cultivating youth poets, artists, and writers. Professor Aldama holds a BA from the University of California, Berkeley, and a PhD from Stanford University.
Sidney Clifton is an Emmy-nominated producer who has served as an executive producer, producer, director, and creative executive in animated and live-action content across multiple platforms. She serves as Jim Henson Company’s Senior Vice President of Animation and Mixed Media, and as Senior Consultant with Black Women Animate Studios. Clifton has worked with esteemed creators including Stan Lee, Dr. Maya Angelou, Ringo Starr, BB King, Tyler Perry, and Harry Connick Jr. Her producing credits include “Harriet the Spy,” “Celebration Table With Maya Angelou,” "Me,” “Eloise,” and BET’s animated series Marvel’s Black Panther. In her role as mentor and recruiter, she has been a featured presenter and guest at colleges and universities across North America, including California Institute of the Arts, Pratt Institute, Maryland Institute of Arts, NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Savannah College Art and Design, and George Mason University. She was honored to give commencement addresses at Idyllwild Arts Academy and Ringling College of Art and Design. She is the founder of The Clifton House, a workshop and retreat space for emerging writers and artists at the Baltimore home she grew up in with her siblings and parents—educator/activist Fred J. Clifton and National Book Award-winning poet and Academy Chancellor Lucille Clifton.
Tracie D. Hall, the Executive Director of the American Library Association (ALA), the oldest and largest library association in the world, with approximately 50,000 members in academia, public service, schools, government, and special libraries. ALA has been a key partner of the Academy of American Poets on National Poetry Month for many decades. Before joining ALA, Hall directed the culture portfolio at the Joyce Foundation and served as Deputy Commissioner of the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Hall was appointed to serve on the City of Chicago’s Cultural Advisory Council at the beginning of 2020. Hall has also served in multiple roles in academia, including as assistant dean of Dominican University’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science in River Forest, IL. She has also worked at the Seattle Public Library, the New Haven Free Library, Queens Public Library and Hartford Free Public Library. Hall holds an MLIS degree from the University of Washington Information School, an MA in International and Area studies with an emphasis on Sub-Saharan Africa from Yale University, and a BA in Law and Society and a BA in Black Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She has also studied at the Universities of Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in East Africa. Hall is the recipient of the 2022 Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community from the National Book Foundation.
Albert Lee, a literary agent at United Talent Agency, one of the world’s leading talent and entertainment companies. Selected author clients include British Vogue editor Edward Enninful, Pulitzer-nominated playwright Heidi Schreck, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai, and Academy Award–nominated screenwriters The Lucas Brothers, among countless others. As an agent, Lee is especially interested in diverse and outsider storytellers, bold and strong personalities on the page, and the curation and creation of original multi-platform intellectual property. A native of Kentucky, Lee began his career as a journalist at the Village Voice and enjoyed a long career as a magazine editor, including serving as the founding Editor in Chief of Mediabistro.com, before becoming an agent in 2015. He holds a BA in Religion from Princeton University.
They join Academy of American Poets Board members: Tess O’Dwyer, Chair; Andrew Schiff, Treasurer; Alexandra Jackson, Secretary; Jen Benka, President (ex officio); Larry Berger; Kwame Dawes (ex officio); Michael Jacobs; James Johnson; Terrance Hayes (ex officio); Anjali Khosla; Camille Lannan; Daniel Nadler; Bruno Navasky; Eric Rayman; Gerald Richards; Elda Rotor; Elizabeth Sobol; Rose Styron; Maurice Tempelsman; and William Zabel.
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 and fellowship programs. 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.