Dickey has served since 2013 as the Executive Director of Seattle Arts & Lectures, and in 2019 was a judge for the National Book Award in fiction. She’s also a poet; she published her first full-length book of poems, Mud Blooms, in 2019. “Ruth Dickey’s extraordinary skill set—developed over many years as an exceptional, thoughtful, and dynamic leader in the nonprofit literary space—is precisely what the National Book Foundation needs to charge forward,” said Lisa Lucas in a press release. “Her experiences working across the country help to remind us all that this work is for everyone, everywhere. Ruth is uniquely experienced, an effective and inclusive leader, and a great lover and champion of the written word.”
“As a queer kid growing up in a small town, books brought me the world,” Dickey told The New York Times. “My whole career has been working at the intersection of two questions: how do we build just, vibrant communities, and how to increase access to arts experiences . . . Stories, and the ability to read stories different from our own, help all of us understand the world.”
Dickey will officially step into her now role on May 17, 2021.