Sarah Davis steps down as chair after five-year tenure

Thursday 12 November 2020

Poet in the City is delighted to announce the appointment of Lennie Goodings as Chair of its Board of Trustees. Lennie is a hugely-experienced and highly-respected figure in the publishing industry; she is Chair of the UK publishing house, Virago Press where she was formerly publisher and editor for many years and where she continues to commission and edit her authors. Lennie takes over from Sarah Davis, who steps down after eight years as a Trustee, five of which in the role of Chair. Sarah is Director of Group Legal Affairs at ITV, following many years at the Guardian Media Group and is also Vice Chair of UNICEF UK.

During her tenure, Sarah oversaw Poet in the City’s rapid growth as it became a nationally-operating organisation and expanded its Producers programme, providing job training and employment opportunities for 16-25 year olds. Sarah also oversaw the organisation’s move towards working with communities to tell their stories. Poet in the City would like to thank Sarah Davis for her tenure.

Lennie Goodings takes on the role after being a trustee for two years, in what is an exciting time for the organisation. Her knowledge and expertise have supported Poet in the City during the challenges of the pandemic, and have enabled the organisation to be on a journey to recovery, including its receipt of emergency and recovery funding from Arts Council England and Government. The charity is harnessing its expertise in animating the stories of under-represented communities, rolling out its young producers programmes nationally and continuing to create game changing live poetry shows.

Lennie Goodings, Chair of the Board of Trustees, says: “Poet in the City has always been an exciting and important champion for poets and poetry and one that I, and others in the publishing industry, have long admired for its originality and ambitious outreach. After two years as a Trustee, I am proud to be taking up the role of Chair, particularly when so many are looking to poetry to see us through these challenging times. I look forward to working with Isobel Colchester and her brilliant team at Poet in the City because I know they are equal to the challenge of working out new ways to bring us the fun, the nourishment and the inspiration of new and established poetic voices to enhance and explain our world.”

Sarah Davis, former Chair of the Board of Trustees says: “Poet in the City has been such a large and happy part of my life. It has been a great privilege to chair this wonderful organisation and I am grateful for having worked alongside such an experienced and committed group of trustees throughout my time. Poet in the City is committed to fostering creativity, commissioning new works providing opportunity to new poets and collaborating with local communities to bring poetry into peoples lives. With Lennie as Chair, Isobel and all the team will create even more exceptional experiences of poetry for all.”

Isobel Colchester, Chief Executive of Poet in the City says: "The last five years have seen huge change at Poet in the City, as we've continued to push the boundaries of how people experience poetry. There have been some truly special breakthrough moments, and none of this would have been possible without the support and constant championing of our fantastic Chair Sarah. I am so grateful to her and sad to see her go, and equally excited to be working with Lennie, who is a real life legend in feminism and books, and who is already bringing her own style of kind commercial expertise to the table, motoring us on to new heights.”

The Board of Trustees of Poet in the City is: Lennie Goodings (Chair), Steve Abbott, Jason Butwick, Katrina Larkin, Alison Rae, Mary-Alice Stack (Deputy Chair) and Craig Westwood. A recruitment process will be taking place to grow the board following the departure of Sarah Davis, and other long-standing trustees Sanaz Amidi and Robert Aitken.

Poet in the City connects people and places through poetry. We help people and places tell their stories, create access to challenging ideas, attract radically new audiences, bring about social and behavioural change, and creates awe-inspiring large-scale entertainment. From poetry in libraries to arts centres, car parks to community venues and festivals to music halls, we present poets who can enlarge our worlds.