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Mellon Foundation Names Elizabeth Alexander President

NEW YORK—Poet and writer Elizabeth Alexander has been appointed president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the United States’ largest humanities philanthropic organization, Robin Pogrebin reports for the New York Times. Alexander succeeds Earl Lewis, who has held the position since 2013.

Alexander has written six books of poetry and two essay collections, including the memoir The Light of the World, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. In 2009, she read an original poem at Barack Obama’s inauguration. Prior to being named president of the Mellon Foundation, Alexander has served as a professor of humanities at Columbia University and at the department of African-American studies at Yale University and the Poetry Center at Smith College. At the Ford Foundation, Alexander developed the $100 million Art for Justice Fund with philanthropist and art collector Agnes Gund.

“She has deep experience in cultivating partnerships that extend and amplify creative vision, Danielle Allen, the foundation’s chairwoman said in a statement, and “brings an artist’s forward-looking energy to institutional purpose.” Of her appointment, Alexander said, “All of the things that I’ve cared about my whole life and worked toward my whole life Mellon does.”

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February 8, 2018