Published October 2, 2022
Kalela Williams – Photo by Pat Jarrett/Virginia Humanities

Virginia Humanities announced today that Kalela Williams is serving as the new Director of the Virginia Center for the Book.

The Virginia Center for the Book, an affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, works across the Commonwealth to unite communities of readers, writers, artists, and book lovers. It is the home of the Virginia Festival of the Book, which happens every year in March, as well as a book arts studio located in Charlottesville’s Jefferson School City Center.

Williams’ experience includes Director of Writing for the Philadelphia organization Mighty Writers, and directorships in public programming initiatives by the Free Library of Philadelphia, including their One Book, One Philadelphia program. Over the past decade, she has also played a key role in implementing special program initiatives for other Philadelphia institutions such as Opera Philadelphia, the Museum of the American Revolution, and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

Prior to her work in Philadelphia, Williams served as Assistant Director of the Furious Flower Poetry Center at James Madison University, and as a program officer with the University of Virginia Office of Admission’s Outreach Department.

“I am thrilled to return to Virginia, and to be a part of the transformative conversations that books open up for us all,” Williams said. “It will be exciting to engage with fellow Virginians from every corner of this state through our upcoming Festival of the Book, and our Center’s many other amazing offerings.”

Williams earned her BA in English from the University of Mary Washington and her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Goddard College before beginning her career with Virginia institutions and later relocating to Philadelphia.

“We’re happy to welcome Kalela back to Virginia,” said Matthew Gibson, executive director of Virginia Humanities. “The Center for the Book is home to some of Virginia Humanities’ most cherished and successful programs. We look forward to seeing the direction those programs take under her leadership.”

Williams’ Young Adult novel, The Tangleroot Papers, is forthcoming from Feiwel & Friends in winter, 2024. The Tangleroot Papers is the story of a Boston teen who discovers the legacy–and secrets–of her family’s past when she and her mother move into a Central Virginia plantation house built by their enslaved ancestor.

About Virginia Humanities 

Virginia Humanities is the state humanities council. We’re headquartered in Charlottesville at the University of Virginia, but we serve the entire state. We aim to share the stories of all Virginians—or, better yet, find ways for people to share their own stories. We want Virginians to connect with their history and culture and, in doing that, we hope we’ll all get to know each other a little better. Founded in 1974, we are one of fifty-six humanities councils created by Congress with money and support from the National Endowment for the Humanities to make the humanities available to all Americans. To learn more, visit

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