The Coffee House Press board of directors and staff are pleased to announce that after an extensive national leadership search, Anitra Budd has been selected as the press’s next executive director and publisher.
“I speak for the entire board when I say that Anitra embodies all the skills we were seeking as well as the values we hold most dear,” says Carol Mack, president of Coffee House’s board of directors. “She is exceptionally well-qualified, steeped in the history and mission of the press yet poised to lead the organization into the future with creativity and a passion for independent publishing.”
Budd is an experienced editor, writer, educator, and public speaker whose past clients include Graywolf Press and New Directions Publishing as well as marketing agencies, universities, and magazines. As former managing and acquiring editor at Coffee House Press from 2009 to 2014, Budd championed the work of award-winning and critically acclaimed authors including T. Geronimo Johnson, Julie Iromuanya, Christopher Merkner, and Lincoln Michel, among others. In addition to streamlining the press’s operations, she brought significant, complex works to publication, including Anne Waldman’s The Iovis Trilogy, Karen Tei Yamashita’s Anime Wong, and Ron Padgett’s Collected Poems. Through her time with Coffee House and her freelance business, Budd has worked with more than three hundred authors and shepherded dozens of books from contract to publication; as a trusted editor and consultant for CHP, she has worked on books such as Aisha Sabatini Sloan’s Borealis, Hilary Leichter’s Temporary, and Mark Haber’s Reinhardt’s Garden. Budd’s recent work in academia includes teaching editing to MFA students at Sierra Nevada University as well as teaching undergraduate courses at Macalester College and the University of Minnesota. She has also written several educational books for children, most recently Blacks in Paris: African American Culture in Europe (Abdo Publishing, 2018; coauthored with Duchess Harris, JD, PhD). Budd holds a BA in Latin and an MA in strategic communications from the University of Minnesota.
“Since my first day as an intern more than twenty years ago, Coffee House has changed the way I think about words, about art, and about what books can do in the world,” says Budd. “I’m deeply honored to have a chance to repay those life-changing experiences and to continue to support the press in its next stage.”
Budd will begin her role as executive director and publisher of Coffee House Press on October 1, with Carla Valadez and Erika Stevens continuing their positions as managing director and editorial director, respectively.
As the head of CHP’s leadership team, Budd will develop a mission-driven business strategy and overall artistic vision for Coffee House, leading from the press’s values of inclusivity, generosity, and collaboration. Budd will steer Coffee House through a busy and exciting 2022, including the celebration of the press’s fiftieth anniversary, as well as the publication of forthcoming titles such as Saeed Jones’s sophomore poetry collection, Alive at the End of the World (September), Brad Zellar’s long-awaited novel, Till the Wheels Fall Off (July), and Mónica Ojeda’s U.S. debut, Jawbone (February). “As we approach our fiftieth anniversary year, I’m especially excited to work with staff on showcasing CHP’s amazing backlist and facilitating fruitful relationships between all of our authors, past and present,” Budd says. “I’m also looking forward to building on CHP’s exciting programmatic initiatives, including CHP in the Stacks and the Coffee House Writers Project.”
Budd is eager to engage with the Coffee House list from her new position, noting, “I’m really looking forward to our upcoming titles, in particular the déjà vu by Gabrielle Civil. It’s a book I consider quintessentially CHP in that it doesn’t fit neatly into any box, and thrillingly so! Readers interested in exploring and exploding ideas of blackness, performance, creativity, ritual, and loss will love this book.”
With Budd at the helm, the Coffee House staff and board of directors are energized and eager to continue the work of their mission, inspiring readers and enriching communities by expanding the definition of what literature is, what it can do, and who it belongs to.