By Helene Atwan
With thirteen consecutive years of surpluses behind us, we are feeling stronger than ever in our modern history, and ready to grow. After a national search, we’re bringing in two new Senior Editors not only to expand our list, but to expand our reach. Rakia Clark will work from New York, beginning on May 4th, and Jill Petty will work from Chicago, starting on June 1st. In truth, my goal originally was to hire one new editor, but both Rakia and Jill had so much to offer. Each spent the day with our editorial staff last month and literally knocked our socks off (remember, this was Boston in March—we had layers….). In the end, talking about their strengths, we agreed that we couldn’t live without both. I feel very fortunate that they have both accepted our offer with warmth and enthusiasm.
Both Jill and Rakia will be acquiring in a broad range of nonfiction areas consonant with the press’s nonprofit mission. With Jill working mainly out of Chicago and the Midwest, and Rakia out of New York, they will be able to meet with more authors, advisors, and agents; to attend more meetings and have an even stronger sense of what thoughtful readers and social justice activists are concerned about. Jill has already lined up half a dozen conferences to attend in four different cities; Rakia has started exploring ideas a month before her official start date. The entire editorial team, the entire press, is energized by these new hires.
And we’ve also announced three in-house promotions. Joanna Green moves from Associate Editor to Editor, and Rachael Marks and Will Myers move from Assistant Editors to Associate Editors.
In addition, Alexis Rizzuto will be moving from her full time Senior Editor position to be a Contributing Editor, focusing exclusively on the environmental list. Along with our Executive Editors Gayatri Patnaik and Amy Caldwell, that gives us a lot of great editorial minds looking for important new books.
Here’s a little more information about each of our new editors.
Rakia A. Clark, who began her career in 2002, has worked as an editor, ghostwriter, researcher and writing coach. In editorial posts at HarperCollins, Viking and Kensington Publishing Corp., she worked on books by Bill Cosby, former Bush political advisor Karen Hughes, Native American historian Joseph Campbell, and WNBA legend Lisa Leslie, among many others. Rakia also serves as an adjunct lecturer at The City College of New York and tutors Writing, English, and SAT Prep at Upward Bound, an after-school program for disadvantaged teens. A graduate of Haverford College and the Columbia Publishing Course, she lives in Brooklyn.
Jill Petty has worked in progressive media for more than 15 years. As an editor-publisher for South End Press, she worked with many authors, including bell hooks, Noam Chomsky, Andrea Smith, and Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. She has also directed communications/community engagement efforts for Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit headed by Bryan Stevenson that provides legal representation to poor people; and for Partners In Health, an NGO that provides health care and socioeconomic services in Latin America, Africa, and the US. Jill took a BA from Grinnell College and an MA at Duke. Prior to her work in book publishing, Jill served as an editor for The Nation and Ms. Magazine. She is a member of the Prison + Neighborhood Arts Program teaching collective, and lives in Chicago.
Helene Atwan has been director of Beacon Press since 1995.