The National Book Foundation Elects Three New Board Members

Jonathan Karp, President and Chief Executive Officer, Simon & Schuster; Peggy Koenig, Chair Emeritus, Abry Partners, LLC; and Jahm Najafi, Founder and CEO, The Najafi Companies, will begin their first terms on the Foundation’s Board of Directors

The National Book Foundation today announced that it has elected three new members to its Board of Directors: Jonathan Karp, President and Chief Executive Officer, Simon & Schuster; Peggy Koenig, Chair Emeritus, Abry Partners, LLC; and Jahm Najafi, Founder and CEO, The Najafi Companies. The addition of these new members brings the Foundation’s Board to 23 governing members.

“We are pleased to welcome three new members to the Foundation’s Board of Directors. Jonathan Karp, Peggy Koenig, and Jahm Najafi each bring with them remarkable leadership experience, a strong appreciation of literature, and a commitment to expanding access to books and writers for readers throughout the country,” said David Steinberger, Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Book Foundation. “We look forward to celebrating, alongside these accomplished new board members, our landmark 75th National Book Awards this November, and to amplifying the Foundation’s important work for years to come.”

“For 75 years the National Book Awards have celebrated literary excellence, and since its founding in 1989, the Foundation has worked tirelessly to reach readers of all ages in communities all around the country,” said Ruth Dickey, Executive Director of the National Book Foundation. “We are honored to count on a newly expanded Board of Directors that is deeply committed to the written word, and eager to share the joys of extraordinary literature with this nation of storytellers and readers.”

More information on each of the new members of the National Book Foundation’s Board of Directors can be found below.

Jonathan Karp was named Chief Executive Officer of Simon & Schuster in May 2020. In this role, he leads Simon & Schuster’s numerous publishing groups as well as its international companies in Australia, Canada, India, and the United Kingdom. Karp first joined Simon & Schuster in June 2010 as publisher of the company’s flagship imprint. During his tenure, he oversaw the publication of bestselling authors such as Hillary Rodham Clinton, Doris Kearns Goodwin, John Irving, Walter Isaacson, David McCullough, Susan Orlean, and Bob Woodward, while launching acclaimed books by Jonah Berger, Bill Browder, Rinker Buck, Lisa Halliday, Chip and Dan Heath, Adam Higginbotham, Siri Hustvedt, Saeed Jones, Naomi Klein, Jessica Knoll, Samin Nosrat, Vaddey Ratner, Matthew Thomas, and Rebecca Traister. Other notable authors and cultural figures brought to the imprint’s list during Mr. Karp’s tenure include Tom Brady, Stephen Colbert, Ray Dalio, Clive Davis, Nelson DeMille, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Brian Grazer, Sam Lipsyte, Bill Maher, Gucci Mane, Chris Matthews, John McCain, Michele Norris, Martha Nussbaum, Jerry Seinfeld, Bruce Springsteen, Howard Stern, and Herman Wouk. He is the former Publisher and Editor in Chief of Twelve, an imprint of the Hachette Book Group. Prior to founding Twelve in 2005, he was Editor in Chief of Random House. Karp earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Brown University and his Master of Arts degree from New York University. He wrote the book and lyrics to a musical, How to Save the World and Find True Love in 90 Minutes, which premiered at the New York International Fringe Festival and had a brief Off-Broadway run. Karp has written for the New York Times MagazineThe American Scholar, and The Washington Post, and contributed a chapter to What Editors Do: The Art Craft & Business of Book Editing.

Peggy Koenig is Chair Emeritus of Abry Partners, LLC, which is a top ranked North American private equity investment firm. Previously she was the co-CEO and Managing Partner of the Firm. Koenig is the Producing Director of Black Cap Productions, and is a co-Lead Producer of the new musical Bhangra Nation and a co-Producer of the new musical Real Women Have Curves. Prior to her tenure at Abry, Koenig was a vice president, partner, and member of the Board of Directors of Sillerman Communications Management Corporation, a merchant bank making investments principally in the radio industry. She participated in the formation and success of SFX Broadcasting, publicly traded radio industry consolidator. Earlier in her career, she was involved in motion picture financing (Columbia and TriStar Pictures), investment banking (Thomson McKinnon Securities), and the magazine publishing industry (Savvy and American Photographer magazines). Koenig is a Vice Chair of Cornell University and Chair of the Executive Committee, and a co-Chair of Cornell’s capital campaign. She is the Chair of the Advisory Board to Cornell’s Brooks School for Public Policy. She is a member of the Cornell Tech Council for Cornell’s NY Tech Campus and a member of the Board of Advisors at the Millstein Program in Technology and Humanity. She is a member of the Massachusetts Women’s Forum, Special Advisor to Datapoint Capital, and a member of Citi Private Bank’s North American Advisory Board. Koenig is a graduate of Cornell University and holds an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and a Fellowship from Harvard’s Advanced Leadership Initiative.

Jahm Najafi is the founder and CEO of The Najafi Companies, and he is also Chairman and Partner at MSP Sports Capital. Headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona with offices in Los Angeles and New York, The Najafi Companies is an entrepreneurially driven private investment firm with significant holdings in consumer, retail, ecommerce, sports, media, and technology. By funding its investments with internally generated capital and utilizing a strategy of concentration, not diversification, the team is able to remain highly flexible, operate in true alignment with management and focus on maximizing long-term results over short-term gains. Najafi is responsible for overseeing the organization and spearheading all investment activities and execution. MSP Sports Capital invests in sports teams, leagues, and businesses in the sports ecosystem. MSP Sports uses its extensive network in the sports industry and employs a hands-on approach to uncover unique and valuable opportunities. Najafi is a significant shareholder and Vice Chairman of both the Phoenix Suns and McLaren F1 Racing. Najafi is a Governor on the Board of the National Basketball Association, a Director on the Smithsonian Institution National Board, and has served on numerous other philanthropic boards. Najafi is active with the Young Presidents’ Organization, was a Board member of the Phoenix Symphony, and the founder of Social Venture Partners Arizona which is focused on mission driven non-profit enterprises. Najafi earned his Master of Business Economics degree from Harvard University after earning his Bachelor of Economics and Development Studies degrees from the University of California, Berkeley.


Photo credits: Jonathan Karp (Courtesy of Jonathan Karp), Peggy Koeing (Courtesy of Abry Partners), Jahm Najafi (Courtesy of The Najafi Companies)