After a nationwide search for a new Executive Director and Publisher, the Coffee House Press Board of Directors announced this morning that it had found the person it was looking for close to home by hiring Anitra Budd. Budd’s affiliation with the Minneapolis nonprofit literary press began more than 20 years ago, when she interned there while still a student at the University of Minnesota.
After serving on the board of directors from 2003 to 2007 while working at General Mills, Budd worked as editor and acquirer of CHP from 2009 to 2014. She then joined the board of directors in 2020 and resigned last month, although she stopped attending board meetings and activities in March once she decided to apply for the position. She will assume her new role on October 1.
Budd, 42, succeeds Chris Fischbach, who unexpectedly parted ways with the press in November after almost 10 years at the helm. Budd will be the first woman and the first BIPOC to lead the CHP, which was founded in 1984 by Allan Kornblum, who retired in 2011 and died in 2014. Managing Director Carla Valadez and Editorial Director Erika Stevens, who have run the press since Fischbach’s departure, will continue in their positions, reporting to Budd. The press employs 10 people in its offices in northeast Minneapolis.
In a statement, Carol Mack, Chair of the CHP Board, said: “I speak for the entire Board when I say that Anitra embodies all the skills we were looking for as well as the values who are dearest to us. She is exceptionally qualified, steeped in the history and mission of the press, but ready to lead the organization into the future with creativity and a passion for independent publishing.
During Budd’s five years as editor-in-chief and acquirer of CHP, she streamlined press operations while guiding the publishing process of critically acclaimed works like Anne Waldman’s The Iovis Trilogyby Karen Tei Yamashita Anime Wongand Ron Padgett collected poems. Since leaving CHP in 2014, Budd has worked as a freelance communications consultant, educator, writer and editor. His clients have included CHP, Graywolf Press and New Directions Press, as well as many clients beyond the publishing industry.
In addition to serving on the board of directors of CHP, Budd has served on the board of trustees of Quatrefoil Library, an LGBTQ community center in Minneapolis, as well as the advisory boards of Revolver literary magazine and the Normal School Nonfiction series. She has also taught publishing for the past five years at the University of Sierra Nevada’s low-residency MFA program and has taught undergraduate publishing courses at the University of Minnesota and Macalester College at St. Paul.
Budd envisions community and collaboration
In an interview with TP, Budd said that any concerns she had about applying for the job were overcome by many people who urged her to apply for the job. “I have the right skill set and the right experiences,” Budd said. “This is when the press needs someone with communication skills – I have that. Experience in different areas of publishing and book sales – I have that. Experience in marketing, relationship building skills – all of those pieces – everything I’m glad I was convinced to apply.
Expressing his commitment to building on both Kornblum’s and Fischbach’s legacies while moving forward with his own vision for the press, Budd’s priority is “to bring in more readers who are so into our list to know and equally excited about our “backlist” of around 500 titles. . She hopes that developing a bigger revenue stream from her backlist will allow the press “to take more risks with the programs, with new merchandising initiatives, and also on the first list. I see it all hopefully working together and seeding each other.
Community development, Budd pointed out, will be another of his main goals. In addition to maintaining the CHP in the Stacks program and the Coffee House Writers Project, Budd wants to create “a sense of community and camaraderie among writers” that would be similar to the alumnae association of a college or a university. “After your book comes out, you’re still part of something,” she said. something together and that they can count on each other.”
Budd is also committed to building an internal community among staff by highlighting their contributions externally. “One of the big changes I’d like to see for us is to open our staff up more to the world – to let our readers, our donors and our stakeholders know that it’s not just one person who posting is a team effort,” she said. “It’s a big tent we have here. So much bigger than a person.
CHP is gearing up for what the press describes as a “busy and exciting” 2022. In addition to preparing to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Kornblum’s entry into book publishing in 1972 with the launch of CHP’s antecedent, Toothpaste Press, CHP will publish the second Saeed Jones poetry collection, Living at the end of the world; old TP Midwest correspondent Brad Zellar’s novel Until the wheels fall; The American debut of the Ecuadorian writer Mónica Ojeda, Maxillary; and what is perhaps Budd’s personal favorite, the performance memoirs of Gabrielle Civil, deja vu: dark dreams & dark times.
“It’s a book that I consider the epitome of Coffee House in that it doesn’t fit neatly into any box,” Budd said. “Readers interested in exploring and exploding ideas about darkness, performance, creativity, ritual, and loss will love this book.”