Poets & Writers Welcomes Four New Board Members

Kofi Appenteng, Rochelle Riley, Kwame Spearman, and Yvonna Stevens join the leadership of organization that empowers writers and the literary community

New York, NY—November 23, 2021—Poets & Writers, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization serving creative writers, today announced the election of Kofi Appenteng, Rochelle Riley, Kwame Spearman, and Yvonna Stevens to its board of directors.

“Poets & Writers is honored to welcome such accomplished, distinguished leaders to the board. They bring expertise in journalism, writing, nonprofit finance and governance, bookselling, business, and law,” said Poets & Writers board chair Amy Berkower. “We are confident that their expertise and deep passion for the role of literature in society will help chart an ambitious future for our organization.”

Kofi Appenteng is president of the Africa-America Institute, which does critical work to increase educational opportunities for young Africans and to improve the global understanding of Africa. He has extensive experience in philanthropy governance, having served as board chair of the Ford Foundation and in his current role on the board of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. Appenteng is an accomplished leader with thirty years of experience as a domestic and international corporate lawyer and investment banker. In recognition of his work in business and philanthropy, the Carnegie Corporation honored him as a “Great American Immigrant.”

Author, activist, and award-winning journalist Rochelle Riley is director of arts and culture for the City of Detroit. She is the co-founder of Letters to Black Girls, a national initiative that provides letters of advice and encouragement from women to girls across the country. A Detroit Free Press columnist for nearly twenty years, Riley used her nationally syndicated platform to advocate for racial justice, literacy, community building, and children. Riley is the author of the books That They Lived: African Americans Who Changed the World and The Burden: African Americans and the Enduring Impact of Slavery. Her many honors include the Ida B. Wells Award from the National Association of Black Journalists and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Professional Journalists.

Kwame Spearman is chief executive officer and co-owner of the Denver-based independent bookstore chain the Tattered Cover. Spearman and his business partner — both of whom frequented the Tattered Cover as young people — recently saved the bookstore from shuttering and have been expanding its footprint. Spearman is committed to the vital role and legacy of independent bookstores as a community resource, is a vocal supporter of small businesses, and has a passion for justice. He is an accomplished management, operations, and strategy professional.

Yvonna Stevens is executive vice president and chief financial officer of the International Youth Foundation, a philanthropic organization dedicated to investing in the world’s youth and providing all young people the opportunity to succeed. A committed advocate, Stevens serves on the boards of the Latin American Youth Center and the Global Health Council and as a mentor for the Obama Foundation Scholars program. As part of her work and dedication to international nonprofit finance and operations, she has provided on-site support to programs in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East — and serves as the United States country representative of International Financial Reporting for Nonprofit Organizations (IFR4NPO).

In addition, Celia Currin and Maureen Egen, both of whom completed their terms as members of the Poets & Writers Board of Directors, have been elected to the Emeritus Board.


Poets & Writers is the primary source of information, support, and guidance for poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers throughout the United States. Our mission is to foster the professional development of poets and writers, to promote communication throughout the literary community, and to help create an environment in which literature can be appreciated by the widest possible public. We publish Poets & Writers Magazine, offer mini-grants to hundreds of creative writers each year, and sponsor the Jackson Poetry Prize and Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award. Our website, pw.org, offers extensive free resources to help writers navigate the literary marketplace and a lively online community. We are guided by our core values of service, inclusivity, integrity, and excellence and are committed to becoming an antiracist organization. Learn more at pw.org.

Rachel Schuder
Director of Development & Marketing