Seattle Arts & Lectures cultivates transformative experiences through story and language with readers and writers of all generations.

Vision & Values

SAL envisions a future in which story and language continuously and courageously revitalize equity, justice, and belonging.

Belonging. We believe access is core to belonging, and we bring an intersectional lens to breaking down historical and societal forces that create and enforce racial, economic, access, and geographic barriers. We strive to foster spaces where all community members feel valued, invited, and welcomed in a spirit of mutual inspiration and exchange.

Racial Equity. We bring an anti-racist lens to all of our programmatic and budgetary decisions to work against the historical and present-day effects of white supremacy. We prioritize, amplify, and celebrate the voices, stories, and lived experiences of writers and readers who identify as Black, Indigenous, and people of color in the community and beyond.

Transparency & Trust. We build trust through transparency in our processes, decision-making, follow-through, and accountability. We prioritize thoughtful, intentional action; responsiveness over reactivity; and regular, open, and honest communication centered on community feedback.

Curiosity. We cultivate curiosity—in our audiences, students, staff, and community members—by providing opportunities for wonder and learning that are rooted in humility and make visionary futures possible.

Joy. We value the joy forged through individual acts of reading and writing and the connection and community created through the sharing of stories.

Equity

Seattle Arts & Lectures is striving towards racial equity at all times, in all parts of our organization. And, though we will inevitably make mistakes, we commit to telling you what we’ve been doing in this area going forward. To be transparent about this important work, twice a year—in summer and winter—we will share how racial equity has shaped our efforts over the previous six months. To read our February 23, 2022 Racial Equity Accountability Report, click the button below.

February 23, 2022 Racial Equity Accountability Report 

Dear friends,

Seattle Arts & Lectures is striving towards racial equity at all times, in all parts of our organization. We are dedicated to the continual practice of reflecting, learning, and taking action that this work demands, and, though we will inevitably make mistakes, we would like to be transparent with you about our journey.

Twice a year, SAL shares how racial equity has shaped our efforts over the previous six months—today, we are writing to share with you our second Racial Equity Accountability Report. To read our first Racial Equity Accountability Report, released in July 2021, click here. To develop these reports, each of our four teams highlighted the top actions, areas of work, questions, or long-term opportunities for change that our staff have worked on over the last six months. These conversations also provide a concrete opportunity to set goals for the next six months, and beyond.

One of the most significant efforts over the last six months was the hiring process for our new Executive Director. Our Search Committee included six SAL Board members, a SAL staff member, a writer from our Writers in the Schools program, and a local arts sector leader; the committee was diverse in many ways including racially, ethnically, and economically. The committee interviewed several search firms and contracted with Koya Partners to conduct a nationwide search for our Executive Director. Koya is a leading firm dedicated to placing exceptionally talented leadership at mission-driven organizations. The firm was founded by women and is dedicated to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

I admit, as a white woman, I struggled with my decision about whether or not to apply because I didn’t know whether SAL needed something or somebody different in the role, and I didn’t want to take up space. In the end, I threw my hat into the ring because of my love for SAL, my understanding of its needs, and my desire to lead this organization through its next chapter and to lead with an equity lens. And, when I accepted the role, I also accepted the responsibility to do the best job I could do for the mission and people of SAL as we are now, and the mission and people of SAL that we want to be in a year, or five years, or ten. As someone in leadership, my job is to surround myself with people who push my thinking and hold me accountable. My board, my personal advisory team, and our staff are all partners in this. You are also a partner in this.

As an institution, we have implemented best practices in hiring that include active candidate recruitment, an anti-bias hiring lens, and interviews with our entire staff—and we want to name the reality that our leadership team is still white and still female. We hold the tension that every member of our staff brings many assets to our organization and simultaneously works for the systemic changes that make SAL, the literary world, and the non-profit sector as a whole a place of belonging for all. One of the ways that the leadership team has and will continue on our journey is by investing in regular sessions with one of our racial equity trainers to help hold ourselves accountable as white woman leaders.

I invite you to read the rest of this report below, which shares more of the deep, thoughtful, and intentional work that our amazing team has done over the last six months. I also invite your curiosities, comments, and conversation—for me personally and for SAL as a whole. Thank you for leaning into change and growth with SAL.

In solidarity,

Rebecca Hoogs

Executive Director

Youth Programs

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  •  Launched a new WITS Apprentice Program by hiring two writers, each working alongside an existing WITS Writer-in-Residence, with the goal of providing meaningful on-the-job training and direct public school classroom experience to writers new to the WITS program. The program was designed to further develop a WITS cohort of writers with a demonstrated interest in, and commitment to, anti-racist education and provide paid opportunities to specifically Black, Indigenous, and writers of color with lived experience reflective of students in WITS classrooms across the Puget Sound area.
  • In collaboration with WITS writer Laura Da’ (Eastern Shawnee), expanded an Indigenous Land Based Pedagogy professional development series free for classroom teachers and teaching artists entitled “Patterns of Air: Pathways for Indigenous Inspiration, Literacy, and Creativity,” and gained OSPI State accreditation to provide clock hours for educators across Washington state. Outreach for the professional development module included a presentation by Da’ at the 2021 Northwest Teaching for Social Justice Conference. The four-part series will continue with a third session planned in spring.
  • Prioritized additional subsidies for WITS to historically underfunded schools serving majority populations of students who qualify for free and reduced-price meals. We prioritized partnering with schools who qualified for city-based arts funding subsidies like Creative Advantage and other non-PTSA-reliant sources. In 2021/22, 10 of our 23 partnering public schools are schools that have 50%+ students who qualify for free and reduced-price meals.

Public Programs

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  • Partnered with Marguerite Casey Foundation on two free community conversations centered on racial equity—one with Lucy Bernholz and Vu Lee (How We Give Now), and one with Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor and Nikkita Oliver (From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation). Partnered with Poetry Northwest to debut the James Welch Prize Reading, celebrating two emerging Indigenous poets. Launched a guest-curated series, Ijeoma Oluo Presents: Our Existence Beyond Trauma, co-presented with Langston Seattle. Partnered with the Seattle Public Library, Deaf Spotlight, and Elliott Bay Book Company to present a free event with Raymond Antrobus.
  • Launched a co-presenter model for our Community Access Tickets (CAT) program with four local non-profits—Chief Seattle Club, Solid Ground, Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, and Wing Luke Museum. Donated 142 copies of Jelani Cobb’s anthology The Matter of Black Lives to the African-American Writers’ Association, Northwest African American Museum, Sankofa Impact, Solid Ground, South Seattle Emerald, and Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle.
  • Continued efforts to address the intersection of racism and economic injustice by creating a new $10 No Book/Reduced Price level for book-and-ticket events and by introducing a Reduced Price subscription across four of our core series. Committed to expanding digital access into communities beyond King County by launching a low or no-cost initiative to engage rural public libraries.

Development

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  • Encouraged donations to partner organizations on giving days like Giving Tuesday, especially those organizations that are led by or serve communities that identify as Black, Indigenous, or people of color.
  • Began to share a holistic overview of what donors’ dollars support in our fundraising communications and campaigns—including but not limited to general operating costs, staff salaries, and professional development and equity trainings—instead of focusing solely on programs.
  • Continued using a strengths-based approach in our printed and online materials, event programs, and videos that values the individual and their story, and that does not tokenize or perpetuate racial stereotypes.
  • Engaged more deeply and intentionally with resources that focus on equity issues in fundraising—such as racial equity, disability access, wealth disparities both locally and nationally, and centering community need—which allowed us to reflect on and make tangible changes to our fundraising practices. Our resources include the Nonprofit AF blog by Vu Le, the Community-Centric Fundraising group (including their Aligned Actions Tool), and literature and poetry by Black, Indigenous, and writers of color.

Administration

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  • Diversified Board leadership. Half of our Board Executive Committee identify as Black, Indigenous, or people of color and 37% of the Board overall identify as Black, Indigenous, or people of color.
  • Continued an on-going focus on equitable hiring practices and made several internal promotions and new hires. Staffing changes:
    • Rebecca Hoogs was promoted from Associate Director to Executive Director.
    • Woogee Bae was promoted from Donor Relations Associate to Events & Annual Giving Manager.
    • Mickee Cheung was hired as Donor Relations Associate.
    • Indira Dahlstrom was hired as Writers in the Schools Program Coordinator.
    • Alison Stagner was promoted from Communications Manager to Director of Events & Outreach.
    • Letitia Cain was promoted from Marketing Coordinator to Public Programs Associate.
    • Betsey Brock was hired as Director of Development.
  • Invested staff time in bi-weekly equity chats within all departments, which allow teams to dive deeper into equity issues and conversations within their own areas of work. Continued our six-year tradition of an all-staff summer book club in which staff read and discuss a book by a writer of color who is coming to SAL; this summer, we read and discussed Good Talk by Mira Jacob.
  • Continued to interrogate our work culture as it relates to flexibility, mental health, and time for connection, care, and joy, grappling with the reality that we’re all in different places in our pandemic experiences. Continued efforts to build a relational work philosophy that lives into our values, pushes against white supremacy culture, and supports our staff and community in this particularly challenging moment.
  • Gave all staff raises and began contributing (based on a percent of salary) to every employee’s 403(b) retirement account.

History

Seattle Arts & Lectures was founded in 1987 and launched its first season in 1988 with John Updike, Calvin Trillin, Donald Barthelme, Louise Erdrich, Isabel Allende, and Rosamond Bernier. See our full archive of past events here.

In 1994, SAL brought the nationally-recognized Writers in the Schools to Seattle—an educational program that places local professional writers in public school classrooms to develop skills and spark student interest in reading and writing. The Poetry Series, featuring such notables as Philip Levine and Anne Carson, debuted in 2000. Hinge, inaugurated in the 2014/15 season, presents new books by and for the next generation at accessible ticket prices. In the 2015/16 season, SAL introduced Women You Need to Know (WYNK), a three-part series designed to showcase cutting-edge, thought-provoking women. It opened with the graphic novelist and Tony Award winner, Alison Bechdel. Summer Book Bingo, also launched in 2015, is a partnership with the Seattle Public Library to present a free summer reading program for adults (Kids Book Bingo, a program of SAL alone, was launched in 2017). In the 2018/19 season, SAL debuted a three-part Journalism Series in partnership with National Book Award-winning writer and correspondent Timothy Egan and renowned journalist Sam Howe Verhovek.

As Seattle has grown in size and sophistication, SAL has kept pace and helped engage, inspire, and connect our growing community. In 2019/20 alone, over 29,000 SAL attendees had accessible, meaningful experiences with the foremost writers and thinkers of our time through SAL programming. 13% of SAL tickets were provided at very low or no cost to community members who otherwise cannot afford to purchase tickets. In the 2020/21 season SAL launched $10 tickets at most events as well as digital access for all events in response to COVID-19.

Our Writers in the Schools program matches accomplished creative writers with local K-12 public schools and hospitals for year-long writing residencies. In 2019/20, nearly 5,000 students worked with a WITS Writer-in-Residence in 180 classrooms at 32 schools and via 2 programs at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Read our statement on the Black Lives Matter movement here.

Staff

Woogee Bae

Events & Annual Giving Manager (she/her)

Betsey Brock

Development Director (she/her)

Letitia Cain

Public Programs Associate (she/her)

Amanda Carrubba

Finance & Operations Director (she/her)

Indira Dahlstrom

Youth Programs Coordinator (she/her)

Piper Daugharty

WITS Program Manager (she/her)

Christina Gould

Patron Services Manager (she/her)

Rebecca Hoogs

Executive Director (she/her)

Jennifer Lobsenz

Youth Programs Director (she/her)

Grace Rajendran

Marketing Manager (she/her)

Alison Stagner

Director of Events & Outreach (she/her)

Board of Directors

Opportunities

WITS Program Manager

The WITS Program Manager will join a talented cohort of Writers-in-Residence, two Youth Programs staff, and nine other SAL staff members to manage and support the programs that inspire young people all around our region to develop and share their authentic writing voices. The WITS Program Manager works with the Director of Youth Programs to implement all WITS programming.

The WITS Program Manager engages with partner school teachers, professional creative writers, and communities and families throughout the year to support and celebrate the work of all WITS students throughout the region. The WITS Program Manager supports our Writers-in-Residence and public school classroom teachers in their residencies, organizes and executes WITS public events and publications, manages the WITS Apprentice program, and manages the Spotlight Author program.

View details

SAL Volunteer

2022/23

Behind the scenes at SAL is a corps of dedicated volunteers who contribute their time to ensure we meet our mission of cultivating transformative experiences through story and language with readers and writers of all generations. We have a host of areas to get involved in, from ushering at our events, to assisting with mailings and other administrative tasks, to working on our annual fundraising events.

View details

Press + Media

Seattle Arts & Lectures Announces 2021/22 Youth Poet Laureate Zinnia Hansen’s Book Release

June 14, 2022

Seattle, WA—JUNE 14, 2022: Seattle Arts & Lectures (SAL) is thrilled to announce the release of Spikenard, the first collection of poetry by the 2021/22 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate, Zinnia Hansen, published by Poetry NW Editions. At an in-person event that was part of the 2022 Folklife Festival, Hansen read from her new book alongside the 2022/23 Youth Poet Laureate (YPL) Cohort Members.

Hansen became the Seattle Youth Poet Laureate in spring of 2021—a time of deep reflection and careful transformation. Youth Poet Laureate Mentors Laura Da’ and Arianne True guided Hansen through the process of publishing, drawing from their own experiences. Her poetry collection, Spikenard, invites us to unearth the holiness of our rituals, and questions how, why, and to whom we pray. Love emerges as central to this work, just as the rose emerges from the moon in the cover art by the author’s grandmother, Toni Ann Rust.

Zinnia Hansen is a poet and essayist from the Pacific Northwest, studying at the University of Washington. Her work has been published in various magazines and online publications, including Rattle. She was a finalist in the New York Times Personal Narrative Contest and part of the Hugo House Young Poet’s Cohort.

 

Seattle Arts & Lectures Announces 2022/23 Season Featuring Masha Gessen, Abdulrazak Gurnah, Amor Towles, Isabel Wilkerson & More

June 13, 2022

Seattle, WA—JUNE 13, 2022: Today, Seattle Arts & Lectures (SAL) announced their 35th Anniversary Season at 10 a.m. (PT). In-person and digital subscriptions are now on sale for SAL’s 2022/23 Series, including the Literary Arts Series, Sasha LaPointe Presents Series, Poetry Series, and a brand new Encore Series. More upcoming on sale dates include:

• July 11, 2022: SAL Presents single tickets, 4-part Create Your Own Series subscriptions, and 15-part Super SAL subscriptions go on sale at 10 a.m.
• August 8, 2022: Remaining single in-person tickets and digital passes go on sale at 10 a.m.

Seattle Arts & Lectures Announces Connie Walker’s Event Has Moved to Next Season

May 5, 2022

Seattle, WA—MAY 5, 2022: Seattle Arts & Lectures (SAL) announced a date change for their event with Connie Walker. Due to unforeseen circumstances, Walker is postponing her event to Seattle. The event is rescheduled for SAL’s 2022/23 Season, to be held on Monday, May 8, 2023, at 7:30 PM (PT). The event will be held in-person at Town Hall Seattle and also streamed online. The Q&A will be moderated by journalist Wudan Yan.

In her podcasts Stolen and Missing & Murdered, Connie Walker investigates cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. In seeking to unravel the mysterious disappearance of Jermain Charlo—a young Indigenous mother who left a bar in Missoula, Montana, in 2018 and was never seen again—Walker’s work examines more broadly what it means to be an Indigenous woman in America.

Contact SAL

We welcome your questions and comments. If you would like to learn more, or wish to share something with us, please contact us.