The Ford Foundation Appoints Elizabeth Alexander as Director of Creativity and Free Expression

October 8, 2015

Elizabeth AlexanderElizabeth Alexander, poet, essayist, playwright, and scholar, has been named director of the Ford Foundation’s Creativity and Free Expression program. In her new role, Alexander will shape and direct the foundation’s grant programs on arts, media, and culture, a cornerstone of the organization’s work in the US and around the world.

The Foundation, an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization, reports that it will shift its overall focus to addressing inequality and that Alexander will guide the foundation’s efforts to examine how cultural narratives impact and shape social movements, and how media and the arts, including film and visual storytelling, can contribute to a fairer and more just society.

Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, said this about Alexander’s nomination: “As a poet, teacher, and scholar of African-American history and culture, Elizabeth’s work demonstrates the power of language to connect individual experience with universal meaning, to build understanding among people, and to shape our world for the better. Elizabeth’s powerful voice and vision will bring new vibrancy to our work on arts, media, and cultural expression, and we are deeply honored to welcome her to the foundation.”

Alexander is the author of six books of poetry, including American Sublime, a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize, two collections of essays, and The Light of the World, a critically-acclaimed memoir. In 2009, she wrote and delivered her poem “Praise Song for the Day” for President Barack Obama’s first inauguration. Among her many honors, Alexander is the inaugural recipient of the Jackson Prize for Poetry, a lifetime achievement award in Poetry from the Anisfield-Wolf Foundation, and the recipient of grants from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.


Photo Credit: Rachel Eliza Griffiths

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