The Academy of American Poets has selected Ricardo Alberto Maldonado as Executive Director and President, following an executive search process led by Arts Consulting Group (ACG). He began his tenure on July 17, 2023.
Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Maldonado is the first Latino to lead the Academy. A talented poet and translator, Maldonado most recently served as the co-director of 92NY’s Unterberg Poetry Center in New York City, expanding access to literature programs and elevating diverse voices and perspectives. Maldonado pioneered numerous lauded initiatives, including the Center’s Young Writers Workshop, a three-week program for high school students; Teachers Workshop, a three-day conference in curriculum design and writing for educators; and a Poet Residency for Spanish-speaking and writing poets. Amongst his achievements, Maldonado launched the Center’s online education/literary seminars and co-founded the DEI committee, establishing strong and equitable teams. Among his projects of note, he co-edited The New Colossus, an online anthology which was featured in The New York Times and WYNC, and advised John Corigliano on “One Sweet Morning,” a commission for the New York Philharmonic.
In 2022, Maldonado was honored as a silver medalist for the Juan Felipe Herrera Best Poetry Book Award for the premiere of “You Are the Prelude,” a commission of new choral and orchestral piece by Angélica Negrón, based on a new poem, at the reopening gala of New York Philharmonic’s David Geffen Hall. Maldonado is currently serving as board member on the New York Foundation for the Arts, Brooklyn Book Festival, and the Poetry Hub. Maldonado has a bachelor of arts from Tufts University and a master of fine arts from Columbia University.
In making the announcement, Academy of American Poets Board Chair, Tess O’Dwyer, said, “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. 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.”
“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.’,” said Maldonado. “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. 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.”
“We are pleased to have guided the international search process leading to this historic placement of Ricardo as the Academy’s next Executive Director and President,” said ACG Vice President Mario Garcia Durham. “Ricardo’s deep appreciation for the artform of poetry and commitment to sharing it with the world, complemented by his leadership experience, will continue to enhance the Academy’s offerings.”