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[VIRTUAL] Literary Organizations in the Time of COVID-19

“How Are Literary Organizations Surviving COVID-19?” graphic: participant names and headshots

In collaboration with the Authors Guild, PEN America and the NYC Literary Action Coalition present a roundtable conversation to discuss how literary organizations and groups have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. The conversation will be hosted live on PEN America’s Facebook page on Wednesday, September 2 at 5pm ET

The roundtable conversation will focus on the question: “How are literary organizations and groups surviving COVID-19?” How has the pandemic changed the literary landscape throughout the country? What can literary organizations and groups learn from each other at this pivotal moment? We will discuss the barriers that COVID-19 have created for literary organizations, and the opportunities for growth and evolution that have come out of this challenging time. Roundtable participants include Ron Kavanaugh (Literary Freedom Project) and Kristin Henley (The Center for Fiction) from New York, DeLanna Studi (Native Voices) from Los Angeles, Will Evans (Deep Vellum) from Dallas, and Nandi Comer (Allied Media Projects) from Detroit. The panel discussion will be moderated by Cheryl L. Davis at Authors Guild

Register in advance for the event. Please reach out to Alejandro Heredia, Community Outreach Manager, at [email protected] if you have any questions. 


Cheryl L. Davis headshot

Cheryl L. Davis is General Counsel of the Authors Guild, where she oversees the organization’s legal affairs, including its in-house corporate affairs, government relations and policy initiatives, and legal services program. In addition to developing a wide variety of the organization’s written positions, policies, statements, submissions to government agencies, and legal briefs, she participates in domestic and international public speaking engagements and conferences. She is a graduate of Princeton and Columbia Universities and holds leadership positions in the following legal organizations: ABA Section of Intellectual Property Law (Literary Works Committee Chair), ABA Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Forum (Arts and Museums Vice Chair), New York State Bar Association, Entertainment Arts and Sports Law Section (Diversity Committee Co-Chair), Dramatists Guild Legal Defense Fund (Board member).  

Ron Kavanaugh headshotRon Kavanaugh is a literary activist and executive director of the Literary Freedom Project (LFP), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit arts organization. LFP is committed to creating spaces that help leverage the power of books, culture, and education. Kavanaugh is a Bronx resident and launched Literary Freedom Project in 1998.

Kristin Henley spent several years working at nonprofits and in the publishing industry before joining the staff of The Center for Fiction in 2006. She has worked on events, programs, and the website for the Center, and is now managing director. She received her MFA in poetry from Columbia University.

Will Evans headshot

Will Evans is a publisher, bookstore owner, writer, translator, and literary arts advocate. He is the executive director of Deep Vellum Publishing, which he founded in 2013. He owns Deep Vellum Books, a bookstore in Dallas’s historic Deep Ellum neighborhood, which he opened in 2016. Evans graduated from Emory University with degrees in history and Russian literature, and received a master’s degree in Russian culture from Duke University. In 2016, he co-founded the multimedia entertainment studio Cinestate, where he produced several films and audio projects. His translation of Russian writer Oleg Kashin’s novel, Fardwor, Russia! A Fantastical Tale of Life Under Putin, was published by Restless Books.

Nandi Comer headshotNandi Comer is a poet, writer, and teacher who serves as the director of Allied Media Projects Speakers Bureau and a founding member of Detroit Lit, a collective dedicated to providing reading and professional development opportunities to narrative makers of color in Detroit. She dedicates her time serving as a community leader, an educator, an activist, and a very passionate writer committed to supporting contemporary voices. Her new poetry collection is called Tapping Out.

DeLanna Studi headshotDeLanna Studi DeLanna Studi is a proud citizen of the Cherokee Nation. She is an actor/playwright whose TVcredits include “Dreamkeeper”, “Edge of America”, “Shameless”, “General Hospital”, “ZNation”, and the recent season of “Goliath”. Her theater credits include the First National Broadway Tour of “August: Osage County”, Off-Broadway’s “Gloria: A Life”. She retraced her family’s footsteps along the Trail of Tears with her father and created her play “And So We Walked” which has been touring for the last three years. She is the Chair of SAG-AFTRA’s National Native Americans Committee and the Artistic Director of Native Voices at the Autry, the country’s only Equity theatre company devoted exclusively to developing and producing new works for the stage by Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and First Nations playwrights.