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Parneshia Jones named director of Northwestern University Press

Jones becomes one of only two Black women currently leading a university press
Parneshia Jones
Parneshia Jones is the new director of NU Press

Evanston, Ill. --- Parneshia Jones, who has advanced Northwestern University Press (NUP) as editor for the last two decades, will take the helm as its new director, Dean of the Libraries Sarah M. Pritchard announced last week.

“Since joining NUP in 2003, Parneshia has developed a unique record as a leader on campus, in the Chicago area and in the broader world of books and letters,” Pritchard said. “She is the ideal leader both to build on NUP’s traditional strengths and to continue the advances that the Press has made in Black studies, critical ethnic studies, performance studies and other subjects that enhance the University’s academic mission and commitment to social justice and inclusion.”

An Evanston native and a published poet, Jones joined NUP in 2003 as marketing assistant and served in several progressively more responsible positions. She revitalized the Press’s storied TriQuarterly imprint, developing its award-winning poetry list with acquisitions including “Head Off & Split” by Nikky Finney, winner of the 2011 National Book Award; “Incendiary Art” by Patricia Smith, winner of a 2018 Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the 2017 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award; “Forest Primeval” by Vievee Francis, winner of the 2016 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award; and “Anagnorisis” by Kyle Dargan, winner of the 2019 Academy of American Poets Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize.

In addition to her publishing work, Jones is on faculty in the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Writing Program. She is also a past president and board member of the Cave Canem Foundation. Her contributions to the Chicago literary community were cited by NewCity in their 2019 list “Lit 50: Who Really Books In Chicago 2019.” She also serves on the advisory board of ShoreFront Legacy Center, a nonprofit organization and foundation that documents African American history on the North Shore of Chicago. Jones becomes one of only two Black women currently leading a university press.

“I am so grateful to come full circle at Northwestern University Press,” Jones said. “My love for the literary world started within the mahogany walls of Third World Press, and my continued apprenticeship in publishing has been guided and supported by Northwestern, my brilliant NUP colleagues and the unwavering  publishing community. In the words of the great poet, Gwendolyn Brooks, ‘We are each other’s magnitude and bond.’ I step into this role deeply humbled by the magnitude of these special bonds.”

Jones, who is currently editorial director for trade and engagement, will assume this new role Sept. 21.

Northwestern University Press is the scholarly and trade publishing arm of the University. The Press publishes important works in philosophy, the performing arts, fiction, poetry, Black studies, critical ethnic studies, Slavic studies, literary criticism, literature in translation and Chicago regional books. The Press’s award-winning imprint, TriQuarterly Books, is devoted primarily to contemporary American fiction and poetry.