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Personnel & Hiring Updates from the Poetry…


The Poetry Foundation and its board of trustees are pleased to announce new hires and staffing updates, and highlight current opportunities.

Welcoming New Hires 

Ashley M. Jones, Poetry magazine guest editor, and Erin Watson, product manager, will join the organization, effective in January.  

In her role as guest editor, Ashley M. Jones, based in Birmingham, Alabama, will work remotely to edit issues of Poetry, beginning with the May 2021 issue. Jones will partner with the magazine team in reading and editing three issues of the magazine. Read Jones’s post on the Magazine Editors Blog to learn more about her editing approach and goals; submissions to Poetry will open on February 1. Jones is founding director of the Magic City Poetry Festival, board member of the Alabama Writers Cooperative and the Alabama Writers Forum, co-director of PEN Birmingham, and a faculty member in the Creative Writing Department of the Alabama School of Fine Arts. Additionally, she is highly recognized for her work, receiving many honors and awards, including being named a 2020 Finalist in the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship.

As the new product manager Erin Watson, based in Chicago, will report to the chief technical officer and director of digital programs, responsible for ensuring the success, efficiency, and continued improvement of PoetryFoundation.org and its digital projects. She will bring her strengths in project management, content strategy, editing, process improvement, research data analysis, and customer service to this role. Watson was most recently serving as the senior manager of marketing for the Greater Chicago Food Depository and the digital media manager for the organization before that; she also previously worked for Deborah’s Place and YMCA of the USA.

Inclusive Hiring Approach

As part of its Open Letter of Commitment to Our Community, the Foundation committed to conducting job searches that are rooted in diversity, equity, and inclusion. Because of this new process, the Foundation received an overwhelming response from candidates of varied racial and ethnic backgrounds for these positions; of those who self-reported personal information, 48% of applicants were BIPOC and 12% have or have had a disability. This process has also uncovered the need to immediately invest in onboarding processes, and on-the-job training opportunities to ensure every role and individual is set up for success. The Foundation collaborated with its partner Ethos on all aspects of this process to: 

  • Develop an extensive hiring plan that laid out the hiring and interviewing processes from beginning to end, including making sure that the Foundation kept open and transparent communication both internally and externally with candidates. 
  • Develop an interviewing process that minimized bias, including a new scorecarding system and set of measures that all interviewers had to learn and use.
  • Measure representation across the funnel of candidates from the beginning of the process to the end, including extending the deadline for filling the role for a longer period of time to reach more people as necessary.
  • Reimagine and rethink how to reach candidates and expand outreach to new communities, especially those within marginalized or underrepresented groups.

The stages of the interview process included:

  • Video screens, where candidates answered questions on their technical skills as well as their career aspirations.  
  • Past project interviews, where candidates presented a project they had previously completed and of which they were most proud. 
  • Culture interviews, where candidates interviewed 1:1 with members of the hiring team they would work with most closely.
  • Final project Interviews, where candidates presented a project directly related to the role to which they were applying; candidates were compensated for producing these projects. At every point in the interview process the candidates were provided with opportunities to ask questions of the interview teams.
  • Reference checks, connecting with candidate references to learn more about their opportunities for growth.


Additional Personnel Updates 

Kate Coughlin, CFO and VP of Operations, has accepted a role at a Chicagoland family foundation as CFO, and her final day at the Foundation will be January 31. Effective February 1, Ydalmi Noriega will become interim administrative lead overseeing all staff and operations until a new president is named. In addition, as of January 13, an interim CFO is in place to support immediate and ongoing financial, and auditing oversight for the Foundation until the new president can hire a permanent CFO following the Foundation’s new hiring process. 

The president search committee, led by the Board of Trustees, partner Korn Ferry, and staff representatives, is continuing at pace with interviews still underway following robust interest in the position from a richly diverse group of candidates. The Board anticipates announcing the new president by spring 2021. 

Additional hiring processes still in progress include Poetry editorial assistant, guest editors, and independent contractors for reader positions.

New Opportunities with the Poetry Foundation 

As the Foundation continues to expand opportunities to our communities, several recently announced paid independent contractor positions and projects are still open, including: 

  • Virtual Teachers Institute is seeking presentation proposals for the summer 2021 Institute “Poetry in an Antiracist Classroom”; $750 honorarium; deadline to submit: February 28, 2021. Learn more & submit.  
  • Harriet Books, a reimagining of PoetryFoundation.org’s Harriet blog, is seeking four freelance writers to review new poetry collections, focusing in particular on books forthcoming from small and independent presses, chapbooks and poetry in translation; $175 per review (150-300 words) + $35/hour for meetings; deadline: February 4, 2021. Learn more
  • Harriet Books is also seeking a freelance writer to serve as news curator, drawing upon a deep knowledge of the poetry world to compile weekly news roundups reflecting a wide range of perspectives; $300 per news roundup (8-10 curated articles) + $35/hour for meetings; deadline: February 4, 2021. Learn more. 
  • Longstanding Library program Forms & Features is seeking early-career teaching artists to design and lead an original poetry workshop. Teaching artists will receive an honorarium of $750. All are encouraged to submit a proposed workshop on a topic of their choice; deadline: March 31. Learn more and submit.

 



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