Michelle Meyering named new executive director of PEN Center USA


PEN Center USA, one of Southern California’s leading literary nonprofits, has named Michelle Meyering as its new executive director. Meyering officially moves into her new role Nov. 1 from her current position as director of programs and events, where she has been a particularly energetic and engaged member of the Los Angeles literary community.

After joining PEN in 2008, Meyering undertook an ambitious, creative and ever-evolving schedule of readings and other events -- a total of more than 200. She’s also the founder and editor of the print literary journal the Rattling Wall. In 2013, she was named one of the Los Angeles Times’ Faces to Watch.

“I’ve obviously played a very public role for PEN in terms of programming,” she told The Times by phone Tuesday. “I’ll maintain oversight of that.”


But the primary task of a nonprofit’s executive director is to manage the organization’s fundraising. Meyering has been getting her feet wet by getting involved in PEN’s grantwriting efforts. “The goal for the last five years was to be more visible in L.A.,” Meyering says. “The next five years are about financial stability.”

PEN’s annual literary award night and benefit dinner are coming up on Nov. 11. The Beverly Hills event -- in the past a rather prolonged affair -- has been streamlined in recent years as its star power has increased. This year, Aisha Tyler will host and Amy Poehler will help with presenting -- both are known as entertainers, but are authors as well.

As an organization, PEN’s core mission is the freedom to write, and PEN members often engage in letter-writing campaigns to help writers who have been imperiled or jailed around the world. PEN has several bases around the globe that operate independently; PEN Center USA covers the western U.S.

PEN’s various projects, which include this international outreach, an intensive training program for emerging writers and getting writers into L.A.’s schools, can at times seem far-flung. Meyering has plans for reframing how they’re talked about to create a more unified sense of mission.

Outgoing executive director Adam Somers has been at PEN’s helm since 2004 and is planning to be on hand to help Meyering begin her tenure.

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