Faces of SAL: Jennifer Cast
July 27, 2021
We have new faces on the SAL Board of Directors to introduce to you over the coming weeks! Most of our board members began their SAL journey the same way you did: as readers and event-goers. Learn about the moments that inspired them to get involved with SAL more deeply, what they do, where they come from, and what excites them.
This week, meet Jennifer Cast!
Jennifer Cast has spent the majority of her career building and scaling businesses in the software, e-commerce, and digital sectors. As the 25th employee of Amazon, she had the great pleasure of helping to build “earth’s biggest bookstore” (Amazon’s tagline in its early days); she later founded and led Amazon’s online music store and its physical bookstores. Jennifer has focused her volunteer activities on education, the arts, and LGBTQIA+ civil rights advocacy.
What were your favorite books as a kid, and how did they inspire you?
My favorite books as a kid inspired me to become the main character. The Boxcar Children; Harriet the Spy; and Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley and Me, Elizabeth fueled many exciting explorations with friends.
Which SAL event has been your favorite?
I’ve had a subscription to the Poetry Series for years and years and haven’t once been disappointed. My favorite SAL event of all time was Mary Oliver in 2008. I have loved her poetry since 1983, and being in the same room with her, listening to her read, was thrilling.
Where are you from?
Although I have lived in Seattle for thirty years, I am and will always be a Hoosier—from Fort Wayne, Indiana.
What’s your ideal Sunday?
My ideal Sunday is sunny and warm and starts early with a long bike ride, ideally with my wife, sons, and friends. A Zoom call with my parents and siblings follows. Next is a huge brunch, followed by a hike and a swim with family and friends. Then I get alone time: a couple of hours with the New York Times and a book, some guitar playing, and a bit of time for email. Then a quick dinner with my family and some evening tennis. Finally, we all snuggle on the couch and watch a movie.
What was the best idea you’ve ever had?
The best idea I ever had occurred around Salt Lake City, Utah, when I was driving cross-country to business school. Weeks before, back in Indiana where I was visiting my parents, I had talked at a dinner for fifteen minutes to a fascinating and beautiful woman. I decided to write her a letter under the guise of sending her son a Stanford Tennis T-shirt (he dreamed of going there for college). She is now my wife!
Thank you, Jennifer!