Cave Canem Welcomes Development Manager Lisa Willis

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The Board of Directors of Cave Canem Foundation, Inc., North America’s premier home for Black poetry, is pleased to welcome Lisa Willis as the organization’s first full time Development Manager. She will build upon Cave Canem’s existing revenue streams that include individual donors, a diverse portfolio of foundation and government grants, as well as corporate sponsors and institutional partnerships. As Cave Canem nears its 25th anniversary, Willis will aid in growing the overall budget and moving the organization towards one that is as financially strong as its reputation and impact on the literary and poetry fields.

About working with the organization, Willis says, “It is a privilege and delight to join the Cave Canem team and I look forward to making a significant contribution towards securing long standing financial security and greater resources in support of Black poets.”

Willis joins Natalie Desrosiers, who was recently promoted to Development Coordinator. Desrosiers joined the organization in 2017 as a Programs and Communications Working Fellow and was most recently a Programs and Communications Assistant.

Lisa Willis is a passionate artistic administrator who has managed and supported the development of a variety of multidisciplinary projects in the classical and commercial performing arts sectors. She comes to Cave Canem from New York Live Arts, home of the Bill T.  Jones/Arnie Zane Company, where she served as Institutional Giving Manager, securing support for general operations, programs, and special projects from government agencies, private foundations, and corporate sponsors. As a freelance development consultant, Willis has provided long term support to small nonprofit performing arts groups in the areas of grant writing, individual donor cultivation, and special events. Prior to her shift into fundraising Willis was the founding Operations Manager for CAMI Music, establishing and managing the daily protocols for the company in addition to overseeing the touring and managerial logistics for Lang Lang, Tan Dun, Savion Glover, American Ballet Theatre, Cirque Eloize and the Ballet Folklórico de México de Amalia Hernández. Her work as an administrator includes multiple programmatic and artistic management roles at the Kimmel Center, Mann Center, Brian Sanders’ JUNK, and Jazz Reach. Willis earned a B.A. in Music Composition and Theory from New York University and has trained extensively in both ballet and modern dance.

Founded by Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady in 1996 to remedy the under-representation and isolation of African American poets in the literary landscape, Cave Canem is a home for the many voices of Black poetry and is committed to cultivating the artistic and professional growth of Black poets. It has grown from a gathering of 26 writers to an influential movement with a renowned faculty and an international fellowship of over 500. Cave Canem’s programs and publications enlarge the American literary canon; democratize archives; and expand for students, poets, and readers the notion of what’s possible and valuable in poetry. Its programs include an annual retreat, community workshops, lectures, and reading and panel series. Its three book prizes, delivered in collaboration with five prestigious presses, have launched the careers of several poets, including former U.S. Poet Laureates Natasha Trethewey and Tracey K. Smith.

Cave Canem is part of the Poetry Coalition, a national collective of poetry organizations working together to promote the value poets bring to our culture and the important contribution poetry makes in the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds. Learn more about the Poetry Coalition.