After four years at the helm of the National Book Foundation, Lisa Lucas is moving to Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, where she will become senior vice president and publisher at the two major imprints Pantheon and Schocken Books.
Lucas will step down from her role as executive director of the Foundation — a post she’s held since 2016 — at the end of the year. A national search will be conducted for her replacement, the nonprofit organization stated in an announcement Wednesday.
“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,” Lucas said in a statement. “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.”
The list of Lucas’ achievements during her tenure at the Foundation towers. In addition to securing major gifts to fund national programming and book distribution efforts, she oversaw the growth of the National Book Awards, creating the prize for translated literature and establishing more inclusive citizenship requirements, as the announcement elaborates. Juries under her watch awarded prizes to Elizabeth Acevedo, Jesmyn Ward, John Lewis, Ibram X. Kendi, Colson Whitehead, László Krasznahorkai and more.
“Lisa has significantly increased the visibility and impact of the National Book Awards, and substantially expanded all of the Foundation’s programs,” David Steinberger, chair of the Board of Directors, said in a statement. “She has been the energetic heartbeat of the Foundation, and we are deeply appreciative of her years of leadership.”
Lucas was hired by Reagan Arthur, executive vice president and publisher at Knopf. Arthur, who took her position at the house this year after the death of publisher Sonny Mehta, began conversations with Lucas in June, according to the Los Angeles Times. The move comes on the heels of the recent hiring of Dana Canedy as senior vice president and publisher at Simon and Schuster, making her the first Black person to hold the position.
“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,” Arthur said in the announcement. “Lisa has brought such incredible energy and excitement into the book world, and I’m thrilled to see her continue that work at Pantheon.”
Top Image: Lisa Lucas. Photo courtesy the National Book Foundation.