Michelle T. Boone, a former commissioner of cultural affairs for the City of Chicago, has been named president of the Poetry Foundation, nearly a year after the previous president resigned amid an intense outcry over the Chicago-based organization’s perceived lack of commitment to social justice.
Boone, who was chosen in a national search, brings a résumé long on community engagement and service at several major Chicago institutions, including Navy Pier, where she is currently chief program and civic engagement officer. As cultural affairs commissioner under former Mayor Rahm Emanuel, she spearheaded the development of the city’s 2012 cultural master plan, as well as organizing more than 2,000 programs and special events, including the new Chicago Architecture Biennial.
In a telephone interview, Boone said one of her main goals at the Poetry Foundation would be to better connect with Chicago’s diverse residents, including those far from its modernist headquarters on the city’s upscale Near North Side.
“The work ahead is really going to be about change,” she said. “It’s about being better, more inclusive, and doing that in partnership and in tandem with the people we are here to serve.”