Coffee House Press seeks an
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AND PUBLISHER
The Coffee House Press (CHP) board of directors seeks an “Executive Director and Publisher” to lead a world-class nonprofit literary book publisher and arts organization serving a diverse community of writers, readers, artists, and staff. The Executive Director and Publisher is the guiding member of a leadership team charged with communicating a mission-driven vision for both the literary program and internal operations; developing and executing a strategic plan; fostering a healthy, equitable, and inclusive work environment centered in author and staff care; advocating for and inspiring teamwork and community; and being an ambassador for CHP’s mission, vision, and values. The ideal candidate is an adventurous reader, an arts enthusiast, a community builder, an innovator, and an integrity-forward business leader.
ABOUT COFFEE HOUSE PRESS
HISTORY OF COFFEE HOUSE PRESS
Established in 1972, Coffee House Press is an internationally renowned publisher of literary fiction, essay, poetry, and other work that doesn’t fit neatly into established genre categories. CHP is both a publisher and an arts organization. Through numerous publications and programs, we are interdisciplinary collaborators and incubators for new work and audience experiences.
Founded by Allan Kornblum, CHP began as Toothpaste Press in Iowa City in 1972 and published limited-edition letterpress chapbooks of poetry. The small letterpress operation became CHP in 1984 and was always intended to be a press for authors whose work fell outside of the interests of the larger publishing world. Kornblum asserted, “A publisher is providing a service to writers and to a community. . . . I want our books to reach readers today, and readers in some future I can’t imagine.”
In the last decade, Kornblum’s successor, Chris Fischbach, continued to foster CHP’s early commitment to publishing work that falls outside the mainstream. In all genres, our list focuses on urgent, experimental, and timely work. Recent initiatives have included establishing ourselves as a publisher of literature by Spanish and Latinx authors in English and in translation. From 2016 to 2020, Brooklyn-based imprint Emily Books curated bold feminist books. The Spatial Species Series, curated by Ken Chen and Youmna Chala, investigates the ways in which we activate space through language. CHP publishes fifteen to eighteen books a year and has nearly 500 backlist titles.
We’ve long recognized that there are many possibilities for reader/writer exchange beyond the page. Our CHP in the Stacks program places authors in artistic residencies in a wide range of distinguished libraries and collections. It aims to create a body of work that will inspire the broader public to engage with their local libraries in creative and meaningful ways. Past partnering libraries and archives include the Walker Art Center, American Swedish Institute, Poets House (NY), Hennepin County Library, the OPUS Archives at Pacifica Graduate Institute, Givens Collection of African American Literature, East Side Freedom Library, Reanimation Library (NY), Dickinson House (Belgium), and many others. In 2011, CHP began a partnership with the Little Free Library organization. To date, CHP has donated over 12,000 books to Little Free Libraries.
CHP has a staff size of ten, three outside editors, and an operational budget of $1.2 million. We are catalysts and connectors—between authors and readers, ideas and resources, creativity and community, inspiration and action.
MISSION, VISION, AND VALUES
Coffee House Press creates new spaces for audiences and artists to interact, inspiring readers and enriching communities by expanding the definition of what literature is, what it can do, and who it belongs to. We want our bookshelves and yours to better reflect the wide range of voices that exist in the global literature of today.
We seek to be the nation’s leading independent literary publisher, and to demonstrate our vision for the future of literature through innovative off-the-page programming that broadens and deepens literature’s relevance to the world. We are guided by our values of collaboration, discovery, excellence, and generosity.
AUTHORS, AWARDS, AND ACCOLADES
Since CHP’s founding, our authors have received and been finalists for numerous nominations and prizes, including the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, the Kingsley Tufts Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Award, and the Pulitzer Prize. We’ve had the honor of publishing books by Allison Adelle Hedge Coke, Hernan Diaz, Brian Evenson, Saeed Jones, Ben Lerner, Valeria Luiselli, Dawn Lundy Martin, Eimear McBride, Ron Padgett, Justin Phillip Reed, Patricia Smith, Anne Waldman, Karen Tei Yamashita, and Kao Kalia Yang, among many other writers whom we are proud to publish.
As a nonprofit literary press, CHP has received recognition and funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Lannan Foundation, the Lila Wallace Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board, the McKnight Foundation, the Bush Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, and the Fringe Foundation. In addition to generous grants, CHP is sustained through book sales, individual donations, and memberships, creating new opportunities for authors, readers, and program audiences.
TWIN CITIES LITERARY AND PUBLISHING COMMUNITY
The Twin Cities are home to one of the most vibrant literary communities in the country. Coffee House Press is joined in Minneapolis by two other leading independent literary publishers, Graywolf Press and Milkweed Editions, as well as the academic University of Minnesota Press and publishing agency Wise Ink. The Cities are teeming with independent bookstores and libraries that host countless author events and book clubs throughout the year. Black Table Arts is a community-driven arts cooperative in Minneapolis that houses a bookstore, shared workspace, and a performance space.
Minneapolis is also home to The Loft, one of the largest centers for literary classes and events of its kind in the country, and the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, the largest and most comprehensive center for book arts knowledge and equipment. The Loft’s Wordplay Festival and the literary magazine Rain Taxi’s Twin Cities Book Festival are annual gatherings of readers, writers, booksellers, and publishers that celebrate the breadth and collaborative spirit of the community.
LARGER TWIN CITIES ARTS CONTEXT
The Twin Cities possess an equally thriving and diverse broader arts community. Minnesota boasts the most stages outside of New York City and has the highest per capita legislative appropriations to state arts agencies of any state in the nation. Generous corporate and foundation giving allow for a multitude of museums, theaters, dance companies, and other arts organizations to coexist and invest in cutting-edge work. The world-renowned Guthrie Theater, Penumbra Theatre, Mixed Blood Theater, the Jungle Theater, Theater Mu, the Children’s Theater Company, and many other companies and spaces share hundreds of varied performances a year with enthusiastic audiences. The Cowles Center, the Walker Art Center, Northrop Auditorium, the Southern Theater, and other venues host a range of local, national, and international dance companies throughout the year. Museums such as the Walker Art Center, and the Minneapolis Institute of Art share an array of exhibitions from renowned artists in addition to housing substantial permanent collections. Minneapolis is also home to many lively music venues and annual events, including First Avenue, the Cedar Cultural Center, and Rock the Garden, hosted by the Walker Art Center and Minnesota Public Radio. The internationally acclaimed Minnesota Orchestra, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the Minnesota Opera are all highly regarded for their artistic excellence and engaging performances. As with the literary community, there is wide encouragement of collaboration across artistic disciplines and deep-rooted support from the general public.
ABOUT THE POSITION
The Executive Director and Publisher is the guiding member of a leadership team charged with developing a mission-driven artistic and business strategy for Coffee House Press. At the helm of CHP’s executive team, the Executive Director and Publisher identifies, crafts, and implements priorities for the financial health, artistic engagement, and operational stability of the press, in keeping with CHP’s mission and values of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
This position promotes a collaborative working atmosphere, fosters a culture of staff training, and reviews processes to ensure care and equity for CHP authors, audiences, and community partners. The Executive Director and Publisher also serves as CHP’s brand ambassador in intimate settings and industry-wide conventions, and in this role, works closely with marketing to sharpen the press’s national and international competitive edge.
Accountable and reporting to CHP’s board of directors, the Executive Director and Publisher energizes the board around the press’s needs and growth and reports to the board on the press’s activities.
It is critical that the Executive Director and Publisher has a demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and a track record of pushing for transformation in order to serve all constituents. This position will be a strong advocate for writers, readers, artists, board members, staff, and partnered communities with diverse lived experiences, identities, and backgrounds. This role requires a leader whose actions demonstrate integrity, transparency, and deep care for everyone the organization serves.
- Maintain the overarching artistic vision and direction for the organization consistent with our mission, vision, and values.
- Oversee all activities of the publishing program, working with editorial and marketing leaders to execute an editorial strategy with accompanying public messaging.
Fundraising and Development
- Oversee all fundraising activities, working with development leaders to identify and execute campaigns and actively engaging in fundraising efforts as an ambassador of CHP’s mission, vision, and values.
- Cultivate and nurture relationships with major institutional and individual donors.
Public Relations and Community Building
- Represent CHP’s mission, vision, and values, developing and maintaining relationships with a diverse community of constituents, including authors, readers, donors, and community partners.
- Represent CHP at public and private events, including industry, literary, and fundraising events.
Staff Care and Professional Development
- Recruit, retain, and motivate staff.
- Cultivate a culture of mentorship and training, supporting the professional growth of teams and individual staff members.
- Actively engage in human resources matters with department leaders.
- Establish and maintain a healthy, collaborative, and inclusive workplace environment.
Board Reporting and Engagement
- Report to the board on all CHP activities.
- Energize and inspire board engagement as an advocate and ambassador for CHP’s mission, vision, and values.
- Meet with and cultivate positive professional relationships with former, current, and potential board members.
DESIRED EXPERIENCE, QUALITIES, AND SKILLS
The ideal candidate has:
- a bachelor’s degree and at least five years in literary publishing;
- a record of demonstrated leadership in a nonprofit arts setting or adjacent field;
- a knowledge of genre-defying contemporary literature and evidence of familiarity with CHP’s catalog;
- experience in shaping an organization’s future direction and strategies with a focus on marketing and competitive positioning, and fostering community partnerships;
- a demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion;
- a history of fostering emerging, underrepresented voices while nurturing and cultivating established talent;
- a leadership style that emphasizes a collaborative working culture and atmosphere;
- an energizing public presence and the ability to serve as organizational ambassador and spokesperson in a range of settings including social media;
- proven results in nonprofit development;
- excellent written and verbal communication skills.
COMPENSATION AND BENEFITS
The benefits package for this position includes health and dental insurance and generous paid time off. The salary range is $100,000-120,000, commensurate with experience and qualifications. When COVID restrictions are lifted, working from Minneapolis is required. Transition assistance will be provided.
EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER
Coffee House Press embraces diversity, inclusion, and equal opportunity for all. We welcome applicants of diverse races, ethnicities, geographic origins, gender identities, ages, socioeconomic backgrounds, sexual orientations, religions, abilities, and financial means. We are committed to building a team that represents a variety of backgrounds, perspectives, and skills. A successful candidate will possess a commitment to the ideals and values of Coffee House Press.
In your application, you may optionally note which pronouns you use (for example--she/her, he/him, they/them).
Open until filled with review of applications to begin on June 1, 2021.
Please visit https://coffee-house-press.breezy.hr to submit a cover letter, résumé, and one-page document highlighting your relevant professional accomplishments. In your cover letter, please describe your leadership philosophy and how your experiences and skills will advance Coffee House Press as an exceptional literary publisher and community-based arts nonprofit.