The Academy of American Poets announced on September 15, 2022 that after ten years, Jennifer Benka would transition out of the role as President & Executive Director of the Academy of American Poets.
With Benka’s leadership and fundraising, in the past decade the Academy has quadrupled its budget, become a leading publisher of contemporary poetry and funder of poets, developed award-winning educational programs; created and helped encourage new programs supporting poets of color; raised and awarded millions to fund local poetry projects and smaller poetry organizations across the U.S.; launched new prizes for poets; fostered a national Poetry Coalition; and helped lead COVID-19 emergency relief funds during the pandemic supporting many hundreds of poets and literary organizations.
“I’ve been humbled and honored to serve poets and the vibrant and diverse poetry community. I’ve accomplished much more than I ever hoped. I’ve also come to deeply believe in the importance of change and creating space for others to lead—and both at a time of strength, not crisis. The Academy today is stronger than ever with a talented staff, brilliant Chancellors, and devoted Board. I look forward to continuing to advocate for this necessary and transformative art and poets' essential contributions to culture in new and different ways on and off the page,” Benka said.
“We’re grateful to Jen Benka for her extraordinary leadership of the Academy, bold imagination, relentless focus, deep compassion, generosity of spirit, and love for poetry and its devotees near and far. She met the challenge and uncertainty of the pandemic by asking how the Academy could be of service, raising millions of dollars to provide financial assistance to poets and organizations facing crisis. She has also been a leader of our organization’s equity and inclusion efforts. Her dedication and generosity are deeply appreciated by all,” said Tess O’Dwyer, Chair of the Academy Board.
Benka held in her position until December 2022 and then rotated into a special advisory role.
See the full press release here: https://poets.org/academy-american-poets-thanks-jennifer-benka