September 14, 2020

Northwestern University Press names new director


Late last week Parneshia Jones was named director of Northwestern University Press. She was formerly editorial director for trade and engagement and is succeeding Jane Bunker. Jones is the first Black director in NUP’s 127-year-history (I’ll give you a minute with that) and only the second Black woman to serve as director of a university press, joining Stephanie Williams at Wayne State University Press.

Jones’s entire career has been at NUP starting in the marketing department in 2002 and eventually she was named poetry editor in 2012. In 2015 Jones published a poetry collection, Vessel, with Milkweed Editions that received a Midwest Book Award.

Claire Kirsch quotes Jones in Publisher’s Weekly :

I am so grateful to come full circle at Northwestern University Press. . . . 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 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’s announcement comes on the heels of other Black women being named to prominent publishing positions including Dana Canedy at Simon & Schuster and Lisa Lucas at Pantheon and Schocken Books. In recent months, the publishing industry has started to reckon with its whiteness after several scandals, an industry-wide day of solidarity with Black lives, and an honestly devastating diversity report from Lee & Low; and the appointment of Black women to prominent roles in publishing seem to be concrete steps towards starting to correct the industry’s lack of diversity.



Alyea Canada is an editor at Melville House.