Letter from the Executive Director

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Dear Cave Canem Family & Friends,

As we look toward the 25th anniversary, it is remarkable to think that Cave Canem was once just an idea of our forward-thinking founders Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady. It has been an honor and a great joy to be part of this revolutionary experiment as a fan, fellow and, most recently, executive director. As my contract term has come to an end, I am writing to inform my Cave Canem friends and family that I will be stepping down from my position as executive director, effective Friday, June 28, 2019. While June 28th will be my last day at Cave Canem as its executive director, it will not be my last day with Cave Canem as an ardent admirer, proud graduate fellow and lifelong advocate.

During my tenure, much has been accomplished. I am proud to report that, since the start of my directorship, Cave Canem’s liquid assets have increased by more than 500%. Our organizational surplus is a major win, helping to build a cash reserve for future use, with special attention to 2021, Cave Canem’s 25th anniversary year. Other achievements include:

  • In January 2018, Cave Canem was named a recipient of Brooklyn Community Foundation’s Spark Prize, a distinction that comes with a $100,000 grant award.
  • Brooklyn Community Foundation is just one of a number of Cave Canem’s newest funders that include Amazon Literary Partnership, the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, among others.
  • Cave Canem migrated to QuickBooks Online in 2017, introduced constituency management software to better understand donor insights and activity in 2018 and, last month, Cave Canem migrated to the cloud—doing away with its decades-old server system.
  • Since 2017, the organization’s social media presence has grown. Cave Canem’s Twitter following, for example, has increased from approximately 7,000 to more than 12,000 followers.
  • And, the organization’s program offerings have expanded to include one-day and weekend-long symposia, anti-oppression/social justice workshops, including anti-racism training for literary arts professionals and self-care workshops for poets of color, as well as a robust partnership with the Brooklyn Museum.

Of course, I did not achieve these accomplishments alone. These successes require dedicated staff working for a common good. Without exaggeration, Cave Canem employs the hardest working, the most passionate (and compassionate) people in the field. I am grateful for the long hours the committed Cave Canem team, comprised of Elizabeth Bryant, Natalie Desrosiers, Della Green, Zora Howard, and Isissa Komada-John, puts in day after day to ensure this home for the many voices of Black poetry.

Between now and June 28, Cave Canem remains my priority. I will do my utmost to help facilitate a smooth transition. To that end, the search for my replacement by the Cave Canem board of directors is already underway.

It has been a great joy and honor to serve you.

With so much gratitude,

Nicole Sealey
Executive Director