The Board of Directors of the National Book Foundation announced that Lisa Lucas will be stepping down from her role as Executive Director at the end of the year to become Senior Vice President & Publisher of Pantheon and Schocken Books, imprints of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, Inc.
“Lisa has significantly increased the visibility and impact of the National Book Awards, and substantially expanded all of the Foundation’s programs,” said David Steinberger, Chair of the Board of Directors. “She has been the energetic heartbeat of the Foundation, and we are deeply appreciative of her years of leadership. We congratulate Lisa on this exciting new career opportunity, and look forward to her continuing to make a difference in the years ahead. The Board will soon begin a national search for her replacement.”
Lucas became the Executive Director of the National Book Foundation (NBF) in 2016. During her time as Executive Director, Lucas launched the National Book Award for Translated Literature, the first new Award in more than two decades, and revamped the long-standing citizenship requirements of the National Book Awards to include non-United States citizens and those with particularly complex immigration status. She also oversaw jury panels that awarded National Book Awards and lifetime achievement awards to John Lewis, Ibram X. Kendi, Colson Whitehead, Robert A. Caro, Masha Gessen, Elizabeth Acevedo, and László Krasznahorkai, among many others.
Lucas also used her position to advance NBF’s mission of celebrating the best literature in America by producing numerous educational programs and public programs that connect readers in every community to books. Lucas was instrumental in securing a $900,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for national public programming at colleges, libraries, and performing houses. She expanded existing public programs and pioneered new efforts including Literature for Justice, which distributed thousands of books into prisons this year. Under Lucas’s leadership, and in partnership with the United States Departments of Education and Housing and Urban Development, the Urban Libraries Council, and the National Center for Families Learning, the National Book Foundation launched the Book Rich Environments program, which over the past four years has provided 1.4 million books to young people and families in public housing across the country.
“It has been an amazing privilege to lead the National Book Foundation these past few years and to work alongside, and champion, some of the greatest writers of our generation. I am so, so proud of what the NBF has accomplished through its public programs and education initiatives, and I am thankful for the extraordinary staff and Board of Directors who empowered the work,” said Lisa Lucas. “It will be a pleasure to cheer them on as the Foundation continues to elevate and promote great literature throughout the country for years to come.”
“I’ve loved watching Lisa and the National Book Foundation revitalize and reshape the American conversation about books for the past five years, and I’ve been so grateful for everything they’ve done on behalf of writers and readers,” said Reagan Arthur, Executive Vice President and Publisher at Knopf, Pantheon, and Schocken who hired Lucas. “Lisa has brought such incredible energy and excitement into the book world, and I’m thrilled to see her continue that work at Pantheon.”