Joanna Prior steps down as Chair of the Women’s Prize Trust

The Women’s Prize Trust has announced the departure of their Chair of Trustees, Joanna Prior, after ten years on the board. Joanna will step down at the start of March, as she begins a new role as CEO of Pan Macmillan. 

The Women’s Prize Trust’s Director, Claire Shanahan, thanked Joanna for her tireless commitment to the Women’s Prize over the last ten years, describing her as “a brilliant advocate for women writers, the stories they want to tell, and the readers who want to discover the best and brightest writing by women”. 

Anna Rafferty, a trustee of the Women’s Prize Board since 2017, will act as interim chair until a permanent appointment is made. Anna is Vice President: Direct Consumer Engagement at The LEGO Group, formerly of BBC Worldwide, Pottermore and Penguin Books. 

Claire continues: “Joanna has been the consummate chair of trustees over the past decade. She is not only an inspiring leader within the world of books, but someone who is passionate about the power of writing and reading to transform women’s lives. Jo has overseen our transformation from literary prize to registered charity, and steered us through the pandemic with integrity, pragmatism and vision, encouraging our resilience and entrepreneurial spirit whilst always remaining focused on the Women’s Prize’s core values and beneficiaries. We are of course extremely sad to say goodbye to her, but excited for her move to Pan Macmillan. We look forward to continuing to work with her both in this capacity and as a donor to the Trust. We would also like to thank Anna Rafferty for stepping up as interim chair of the board.”

Joanna Prior says: “After more than a decade of involvement on the board of the Women’s Prize for Fiction and eight years as its chair, the time has come for me to step down and hand over the reins to someone new. I’m hugely proud of everything that’s been accomplished during this time. The Prize is now enshrined as a charity (the Women’s Prize Trust) with a mission to support women’s creativity and access to reading. As everyone is aware, it takes a truly committed and creative team to pull together funding for arts organisations today, and the Women’s Prize’s mixed funding model that includes corporate sponsorship, trusts and foundations, individual patronage and innovative commercial revenue streams has ensured a secure future for one of the biggest celebrations of women’s creativity in the world. I would like to thank my terrific co-trustees and to applaud the dynamic executive team who make it all happen. I know that the new chair will oversee the next exciting phase of the Trust’s evolution, growing its reach and impact. I will continue to support its work as a Prize Circle Patron and be guided in my reading choices by the wonderful long- and shortlists that arrive every spring.”

Kate Mosse, Founder Director of the Women’s Prize for Fiction, added: The WPF has been a powerhouse in publishing, reading, writing and advocating for women’s creative voices for twenty-seven years. With Joanna as chair, she oversaw the transition of the Prize Board from a committee of like-minded individuals, passionate about celebrating writing by women, to a twenty-first-century charity with a major philanthropic, engagement and educational programme. Her enthusiasm, knowledge, passion for the role and commitment to the Prize made her the perfect chair during challenging times. We will all miss her hugely . . . though, as a Pan Macmillan author, I can’t wait to be working with her in that capacity.





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