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Ricardo Alberto Maldonado will join the organization in July. Photo credit: Nancy Crampton
Ricardo Alberto Maldonado will join the organization in July. Photo credit: Nancy Crampton

The Academy of American Poets names first Latino Executive Director and President

Ricardo Alberto Maldonado, an award-winning poet from Puerto Rico, will begin his new role in July.

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The Academy Poets recently announced that it has selected Ricardo Alberto Maldonado as its new Executive Director and President. Maldonado, who was born and raised in Puerto Rico, will be the first Latino appointed to these roles in the organization’s 89-year history. He will officially start on Monday, July 17. 

The Academy was founded in 1934 “to support American poets at all stages of their careers and to foster the appreciation of contemporary poetry.” 

“We searched for a leader who was not merely seeking a job in poetry, but who was already fully invested in living out the vocation of poetry. As a poet, translator, and arts administrator, Ricardo Maldonado brings to the Academy of American Poets an intense passion for our mission, stellar nonprofit leadership experience, strong project management skills, a commitment to education and community-building, and a depth of knowledge about American poetry from the nineteenth century poets to the cutting-edge voices of today,” said Tess O’Dwyer, Academy Board Chair.

“The Board of Directors voted unanimously and enthusiastically to appoint Ricardo based on our belief that he will not only sustain the Academy’s marvelous array of poetry offerings but will also strengthen, expand, and deepen them in the years to come,” she continued. 

Maldonado is currently the co-director of 92NY’s Unterberg Poetry Center. While there, he founded several workshops including its Young Writers Workshop, a teacher’s workshop, and a residency for Spanish-speaking poets.

He started 92NY’s online seminar curriculum in 2020, which drew thousands of people from all over the world to engage in literacy discussions, lectures, and panels. He also helped found the organization’s DEI committee, the committee oversaw staff training and supported the implementation of organization-wide initiatives. 

He has coedited A New Colossus, an online anthology that used emerging voices to celebrate Emma Lazarus’s work, and Hope and All That, a tribute to Lucille Clifton. 

Maldonado is also a poet and his collection, The Life Assignment, was the Silver Medalist for the Juan Felipe Herrera Best Poetry Book Award, a finalist for the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award, and was named one of Remezcla’s Best Book by Latine or Latin American Authors. 

Maldonado graduated from Tufts and Columbia University's School of the Arts. 

“I owe a debt of gratitude to the Academy of American Poets. Like the many millions of poets, educators, and readers across the world who have used its resources since 1934, I believe, to quote the Salvadoran poet Roque Dalton, ‘that poetry, like bread, is for everyone.’ As poetry becomes increasingly available and more vital to our national conversation, and as the Academy looks toward its ninetieth anniversary in 2024, I am honored to carry forward the organization’s mission of serving readers and supporting poets at all stages of their careers,” Maldonado said of his appointment.  

“I look forward to joining forces with the Academy’s staff, Board of Directors, and Board of Chancellors—many of whom have mentored me—to keep finding the essence of poetry in our world, and to reflect on how art can responsibly shape how we see ourselves in the present and into the future,” he added. 

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