University of Virginia Names Publisher, Deputy Editor and Advisory Board for Virginia Quarterly Review

December 12, 2011 — The University of Virginia has announced the appointment of Jon Parrish Peede as publisher and Donovan Webster as deputy editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review, the University's award-winning magazine of current affairs, literature, history, criticism and long-form journalism.

Peede will oversee the journal's business and administrative operations, including print circulation, online and digital readership, business development and external partnerships. Webster will provide editorial and production management for the print publication and online content, and contribute to thematic content and creative direction.

"Jon Peede established a national reputation as a creative thinker and thought leader in his recent role as head of the U.S. government's arts grants for literary magazines and creative writers," said Thomas C. Skalak, vice president for research. "We are also very pleased to welcome the internationally acclaimed journalist and author Donovan Webster to the editorial team."

Dana Gioia, former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts and America Book Award winner, said it's a "major coup" for VQR to hire Peede.

"Over the past decade the Virginia Quarterly Review has been America's most innovative literary magazine," he said. "Jon combines the experience of a writer, editor, publisher and arts administrator – a unique mix of skills that will help the journal reach an even higher level of excellence."

Peede commented, "I am delighted to serve the University of Virginia and the literary community in this role. It is a privilege to work on a publication of such distinction and with so much promise. At a time when so many magazines and newspapers have reduced their reporting, VQR stands out for its editorial ambition, thoroughness and cultural importance."

From 2007 to 2011, Peede served as director of literature grants for the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, D.C. He directed more than $5 million in annual funding to the nation's leading poets, fiction writers, translators, nonprofit presses and journals, and literary organizations. During his tenure, literary translation applications doubled, and translation fellowships were increased significantly. In addition to directing the Big Read program for two years, Peede served as counselor to Gioia from 2003 to 2007.

Peede was the founding director of the NEA's Operation Homecoming program, which resulted in the largest literary archive of U.S. troop writing from Iraq and Afghanistan, an acclaimed anthology and two award-winning documentaries. He led literary programs in Bahrain, Mexico, Northern Ireland and other countries.

VQR Editor Ted Genoways said he has served on a pair of NEA panels for Peede. "I was always impressed by his intelligence, drive and charm. His work as director of Operation Homecoming shows his commitment to finding intersections between current events and the arts. To VQR, he brings a writer's sensibility, a tremendous head for business and a national profile."

Lisa Page, board president of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation in Washington, said, "VQR is in a class by itself as a literary magazine. It is original, dynamic and visionary. And its new publisher, Jon Peede, has these characteristics in spades."

According to filmmaker and poet Larry Bridges, CEO of Red Car Inc. of Los Angeles and New York, Peede is committed to bringing together print culture and digital storytelling, which has become a focus for VQR.

"Jon's innate grasp of the visual is broad," he said. "He knows how to speak with images when the communication is purely iconographic, but when he writes or speaks of images and their relevance to culture, he becomes a true literary man."

Before joining the NEA, Peede was director of communications at Millsaps College, the founding editor of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education award-winning Millsaps Magazine and an editor for literature and history at Mercer University Press. He co-edited an essay collection, "Inside the Church of Flannery O'Connor: Sacrament, Sacramental, and the Sacred in Her Fiction."

He holds a B.S. from Vanderbilt University and M.A. from the University of Mississippi. He serves on the national council of the Margaret Walker Center Archive and Museum of the African-American Experience, located at Jackson State University.

The new deputy editor, Donovan Webster, also brings a wealth of experience to the journal. A former senior editor for Outside magazine, he writes for National Geographic, Smithsonian, Vanity Fair and the New York Times Magazine. He is the author of several books, including "Meeting the Family: One Man's Journey Through His Human Ancestry."

He co-founded the international humanitarian organization Physicians Against Landmines/Center for International Rehabilitation, which was an early member of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997. He holds a B.A. from Kenyon College and studied in the MFA program at Middlebury College.

"Don Webster is a legendary globe-trotting journalist who has written for VQR and is now teaching in U.Va.'s media studies department," Genoways said. "As an editor, he's had a stint at Outside at its pinnacle and co-founded Southern Magazine; his extensive relationships in the publishing world and editing expertise make for a remarkable addition to the magazine staff.

"It's been a pleasure to see the excitement build as we witness the collaborative energy that VQR will derive from Jon and Don. As we continue to grow, we will be looking for team members who share their verve and commitment to magazine-making."

In addition to naming Peede and Webster to the staff, the University has established a distinguished VQR Advisory Board. The board will advise on matters such as organizational structure, editorial vision, thematic content and business growth models. The board includes:

•    Marie Arana, writer-at-large, Washington Post; former editor-in-chief of Washington Post Book World; National Book Award finalist;
•    Larry Bridges, CEO, Red Car Inc.; filmmaker and poet;
•    Jon Fine, director, Author and Publisher Relations, Amazon; 1991 graduate of the U.Va. School of Law;
•    David Griffin, visuals editor, Washington Post; former executive editor for e-publishing and director of photography, National Geographic;
•    Joe Hutchinson, art director, Rolling Stone;
•    Jay Morse, former CFO, Washington Post; 1968 graduate of the College of Arts & Sciences;
•    Amy O'Leary, deputy news editor, online, The New York Times;
•    Siva Vaidhyanathan, chair, Department of Media Studies.

The Virginia Quarterly Review has been published continuously at U.Va. since 1925. In recent years, VQR has won six National Magazine Awards and received 19 additional nominations – unprecedented numbers for a magazine of its size. VQR has also received Utne Independent Press Awards for General Excellence and International Coverage. Issues are available on newsstands nationwide at select independent and Barnes & Noble bookstores.

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