Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature names interim executive director

by on April 25th, 2012

The board of directors of the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature has named John Kenyon as interim executive director of the organization. Kenyon is currently editor and director of media operations with the Corridor Business Journal and is a member of the City of Literature board’s executive committee. He will transition from those roles to begin the new position on May 14.

Susan Craig, director of the Iowa City Public Library and president of the City of Literature board, said the organization will continue to build on its success with Kenyon at the helm.

“John’s experience with the City of Literature programs and operations assures a smooth transition. I am excited to work with John on the many programs the City of Literature supports,” she said.

The board has appointed Kenyon to a six-month term as interim executive director and will launch a search for a permanent director during that time. He replaces Jeanette Pilak, the organization’s first director, who resigned earlier this month.

Kenyon, a Des Moines native and University of Iowa graduate, has been in journalism in the Corridor for nearly 20 years. The former Daily Iowan editor was with the Cedar Rapids Gazette for a decade as a reporter and editor. He helped to launch the Corridor Business Journal in 2004, and has been the paper’s editor and director of media operations since that time.

In addition to his service with the City of Literature board, Kenyon is a member of the Iowa City Public Library Board of Trustees and the board of the Iowa City Summer of the Arts, and is chair of the Hawkeye Division of the March of Dimes. He was a 2008 recipient of the Corridor Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 award and is a graduate of the Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce’s Community Leadership program.

“In a few short years the City of Literature has become a vibrant catalyst that has enhanced the already robust literary culture in Iowa City,” Kenyon said. “The chance to build on that firm foundation locally through our signature events, while helping to grow the city’s reputation and reach throughout the world as a part of UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network, is a dream come true. I look forward to taking a more hands-on role in this organization’s ongoing success.”

As executive director, Kenyon will oversee operations of the nonprofit organization, reporting to the 18-member board. His duties will include programming, outreach and fundraising. The organization holds four signature events annually – the One Book Two Book Children’s Literature Festival, World Book & Copyright Day, the Day in the City of Literature component of the Iowa City Book Festival, and Paul Engle Day – as well as others throughout the year.

Iowa City joined the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization’s Creative Cities Network in November 2008 when it was designated the first City of Literature in the United States and the third in the world. It joins Edinburgh, Scotland; Melbourne, Australia; Dublin, Ireland; and Reykjavik, Iceland, as a City of Literature, and 29 other cities worldwide to form the Creative Cities Network, which honors and connects cultural centers for cinema, music, crafts and folk arts, design, media arts and gastronomy.

To learn more about the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature or the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, visit

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