New York, NY (January 6, 2022)— The Academy of American Poets, the largest funder of poets and poetry programs in the U.S., is pleased to announce that Tess O’Dwyer has been named the new Chair of the Board of Directors. O’Dwyer, a nonprofit management consultant and award-winning translator, is the first person of color to lead the national organization’s board in its 87-year history. 

“It is the heyday of American poetry. As an Asian American I’m especially proud to help lead the Academy in this time in which the art form is reflecting such a wide-range of voices, especially those who have been historically marginalized. Not only is this a time of cultural change, it’s also a moment in which we are reminded of poetry’s significance. During the past 22 months, we’ve seen how poems have served as PPE for the soul and as a centering source of solace for a growing number of millions of readers as we’ve faced a global health crisis. I look forward to working with the Board, staff, and Chancellors to ensure the Academy continues to be a leader in the art form,” O’Dwyer said. 

“Tess is attuned to the possibilities of poetry in our culture and a devoted champion of poets. She has deep organizational expertise and has already made immeasurable contributions to our efforts to meet the vastly increased demands for our programs, publications, and financial support during the pandemic. The Academy is fortunate to have her leadership as we continue to foster an organization and programs that promote, support, and reflect poetry and poets today,” said Jennifer Benka, President & Executive Director.  

“Tess O’Dwyer assumes the leadership of the Academy Board at a time of tremendous growth, dynamism, and future promise for the organization as it continues to work toward increasing its relevance and influence in our evolving culture. This is fitting as she comes armed with a great deal of energy, curiosity, and conviction about the power of poetry in the world. Tess’s success will be defined by a capacity to listen, a commitment to swift action, and irrepressible delight in the poetic arts. I welcome her leadership,” said Kwame Dawes, Academy of American Poets Chancellor and Ex Officio Board Member.  

O’Dwyer succeeds Michael Jacobs, CEO of Abrams Books, who served as Chair for eight years. 

In addition to O’Dwyer, Andrew Schiff was elected Treasurer of the Board and Alexandra Jackson, Secretary of the Board. 

About Tess O’Dwyer

Tess O’Dwyer provides strategic planning and fundraising counsel to leaders of the nonprofit sector. Her client roster includes cultural museums, performing arts companies, social justice agencies, schools, and universities. Prior to her consultancy, Ms. O'Dwyer served as Vice President for Cultural Affairs at the Americas Society, Director of Development at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and Associate Director of Individual Giving at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc. She earned her MA in English from Rutgers University and is also an award-winning translator of Latin American and Puerto Rican poetry and fiction. Her books in translation include the social realist novel Martin Rivas (Oxford, 2000) by Chilean author Alberto Blest Gana and the postmodern classics Empire of Dreams (Yale, 1994) and Yo-Yo Boing! (AmazonCrossing, 2011) by Puerto Rican poet Giannina Braschi. O’Dwyer co-edited Review: Literature and Arts of the Americas (Taylor & Francis) and Poets, Philosophers, Lovers: On the Writings of Giannina Braschi (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2020). Winner of the Columbia University Translation Center Award, she has served as a Board member of Harvard University’s Cultural Agents Initiative, The Evergreen Review, and PEN America.

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. The organization annually awards more funds to individual poets than any other organization through its prize program, giving a total of $1.25 million to more than 200 poets at various stages of their careers. The organization also produces, the world’s largest publicly funded website for poets and poetry; organizes National Poetry Month; publishes the popular Poem-a-Day series and American Poets magazine; provides award-winning resources to K–12 educators, including the Teach This Poem series; hosts an annual series of poetry readings and special events; and coordinates a national Poetry Coalition working together to promote the value poets bring to our culture.