AWP Board’s Message to Membership

November 14, 2018

Dear AWP Stakeholders,

The Board of Trustees is writing to update you on the new path that AWP is taking as a fully independent association. Recently, an op-ed piece written by a former employee asserts that the organization is “on the brink” of some sort of ruin, yet nothing could be further from the truth. AWP is institutionally and financially strong, and by all organizational indicators is in far better shape than it was six months ago. Here are some important facts:

  1. AWP no longer answers to larger organizations that slowed our decision-making and exercise of our fiduciary duties to employees and others. With independence, we have the capacity to be more responsive to your needs. 
  2. AWP is financially healthy. Our cash reserves currently stand at over $3 million.
  3. As of today, our renewal rate of existing institutional members is 95%, and we have also gained ten new institutional members. Our individual memberships have grown by 17.6% since February 2018. 
  4. Sponsorships for the upcoming Portland conference have already exceeded those of the 2018 conference. Conference registrations for individuals and bookfair participants have already exceeded set goals, potentially making Portland our largest conference to date. The 2019 conference will feature an incredible group of writers, including Colson Whitehead, Nikky Finney, Maxine Hong Kingston, Tayari Jones, Kaveh Akbar, and Cheryl Strayed.
  5. Because of the healthy revenue streams and freedom that AWP has as an independent organization, the office is now fully staffed with 20 highly qualified, diverse, and professional employees, in contrast to the 14 employees before. 
  6. Because of AWP’s financial health and independent status, the Board of Trustees was able to approve a long-overdue salary increase for employees at its last board meeting, bringing the employees closer to the median market rate set in a highly competitive marketplace. We have simultaneously kept our membership and conference registration rates the same, as we have done for an extended period of time.

AWP accomplished many great things in our first fifty-one years; however, membership needs and expectations change as the membership itself changes. The organization must evolve to better serve its whole membership. We are now finalizing a new five-year strategic plan, which we will share with membership, via the website, as soon as possible. Through this process, we have identified numerous opportunities to achieve even more, opening our programs and services to the future practitioners and communities of contemporary literature—and doing so thoughtfully, with far greater transparency.
We have been fortunate to have Dr. Chloe Schwenke serving since April as our Interim Executive Director. She draws upon her extensive experience in nonprofit management and as a published author, most recently of the memoir SELFish(Red Hen, 2018). She is doing a remarkable job guiding AWP through this transition.
AWP has hired the Arts Consulting Group to lead a search for a permanent Executive Director. The job position announcement will be released shortly and distributed widely. We hope that you will be active in the recruiting process by making nominations and sharing the job posting with your network. The Board appreciates your involvement in this process, and we welcome your input as we build together. We look forward to sharing the position announcement, to naming a permanent leader, and to coming together as a community in Portland in March.  
Yours sincerely,
AWP Board of Trustees


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