CHICAGO, IL, — The Poetry Foundation is pleased to announce Michelle T. Boone will join the Poetry Foundation as president beginning May 4. The appointment concludes a robust, diverse national search led by Korn Ferry in partnership with a committee of Poetry Foundation trustees and staff members.
Boone brings more than 20 years of professional community, civic, and cultural experience in dynamic leadership positions, both at Navy Pier and with the Joyce Foundation, as well as during her tenure as commissioner for Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE).
In her most recent role at Navy Pier as chief program and civic engagement officer, Boone served on the Executive Leadership Team; her responsibilities included the development and presentation of arts and cultural public programs, festivals and special events; managing the PR/Communications team; and supporting Navy Pier’s diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies and staff engagement.
“We are excited to welcome Michelle Boone as the next president of the Poetry Foundation,” said Caren Yanis, board chair, “We’re confident in Michelle’s organizational and strategic planning skills to strengthen and sustain audiences for the art of poetry. Our goal is to become an equitable organization that fosters dignity and integrity, builds trust with partners and community members, and sustains and grows resources including Poetry magazine and PoetryFoundation.org. Michelle brings deep experience in organizational management and community engagement. We’re delighted to welcome her to the Poetry Foundation.”
“I am beyond thrilled and deeply honored to be invited to join the team at the Poetry Foundation,” said Michelle Boone, incoming president of the Poetry Foundation. “Poetry magazine and the work of the Foundation play an important role in serving the poetry community and the broader literary scene at large. I am looking forward to deepening relationships, expanding partnerships, and connecting with bold new, diverse voices in the field in dynamic new ways.
Boone served as Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) under Mayor Rahm Emanuel. During her tenure, she led a team of more than 80 full-time employees to produce and present more than 2,000 public programs, large-scale festivals, and special events annually; supervised the management of the historic Chicago Cultural Center; led the process for a new Chicago Cultural Plan (released in 2012); and launched the Chicago Architecture Biennial in 2015, the city’s first international exhibition of contemporary architecture and design.
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Prior to that, Boone was a senior program officer at the Joyce Foundation, managing the culture portfolio and distributing more than $2 million annually in grants supporting artists and nonprofit arts organizations in the Midwest.
Her professional career includes work in television, film, and the recording industries, and she served as a United States Peace Corps volunteer in Chad, Africa. Boone holds a bachelor’s degree in Telecommunications and a master’s degree in Public Affairs (Nonprofit Management) from Indiana University, Bloomington.
The Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs honored her with its Distinguished Alumni Award in 2015.
Boone is the recipient of multiple honors including being named a “Cultural Champion” by the Chicago Cultural Alliance; named “Design Leader of the Moment” by Newcity magazine; and “Chicagoan of the Year” (architecture) by the Chicago Tribune. She currently serves on the boards of Americans for the Arts, Arts Alliance Illinois, The Arts Club of Chicago, Chicago Architecture Biennial, the Graham Foundation, and Timeline Theater, and is on the Board of Governors for the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
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She is also a member of The Chicago Network and serves on the Women’s Board of the University of Chicago. Michelle is a longtime resident of Chicago’s south side and volunteers with South Shore Works, an independent collective of residents working to revitalize the community.
The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in American culture.
It exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience. The Poetry Foundation seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery, and encouraging new kinds of poetry through innovative literary prizes and programs.
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