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Next Executive Director Announced

Writers & Books welcomes Kyle Semmel as next Executive Director, following founder Joe Flaherty’s retirement.


Press Release Writers & Books announces new Executive Director Rochester NY, May 3, 2016: Joe Flaherty, Executive Director and founder of Writers & Books has announced that, after a nation-wide search, Writers & Books has chosen Kyle Semmel as the next Executive Director.


Selection Committee member Trevor Harrison says “Our search committee was comprised equally of board members, Writers & Books staff and individuals with a long history of supporting the organization. Over a 4 month period, we reviewed applications and resumes from around the US. The committee conducted phone and video interviews of a shortlist of candidates and brought each of the final three candidates to Rochester for day long interviews, meetings and presentations to a large diverse audience. I am so proud of the committee’s dedication to getting this right and the result of their effort. We are moving into the future with great confidence and the satisfaction of having completed a thorough selection process.”


Kyle Semmel is a native western New Yorker. After graduating from York Central in 1992, he has mostly lived outside of the area—making stops in Pennsylvania, Kansas, Denmark, Metro DC, and Milwaukee. He has worked in a variety of capacities in nonprofits, most recently as the development and communications manager of Collegiate Directions, Inc. in Bethesda, MD. Prior to that, he worked at The Writer’s Center, also in Bethesda, MD, and while there he served a stint as the interim director.


“Writers & Books is a Rochester treasure, and it’s an honor and a privilege to succeed Joe Flaherty as Executive Director.” Says Semmel. “I’m excited to join the Rochester literary and cultural community, and to work with the organization’s devoted staff, Board of Directors, instructors, donors, and members, to build upon the wonderful foundation that Joe–with the help of countless supporters–has built over the course of 35 memorable years.”


Semmel is a writer and literary translator whose work has appeared in Ontario Review, The Washington Post, The Writer’s Chronicle, World Literature Today, Best European Fiction 2011, and elsewhere.


“Realizing the great importance of choosing the right person to carry on the important literary tradition of Writers & Books into the future, we began a thorough nationwide search for my successor last fall.” Says Joe Flaherty. “We received over fifty applications from all over the country, a testament to our national profile, and through an intensive interview process narrowed it down to three excellent candidates. In the end we selected Kyle Semmel to assume to role of Executive Director. We were incredibly impressed not only with his extensive comparable experience, but also with his passion for literature and for its potential to enrich the lives of individuals throughout our community. We look forward to his leading us as we begin our next chapter.”


On a final note, Board President Jenny Kellogg added “The Board of Directors is delighted to welcome Kyle Semmel to Writers & Books. With his managerial experience and his passion for literature and the Rochester community, Kyle is an ideal candidate to replace founding director Joe Flaherty. We are looking forward to celebrating Kyle’s arrival and Joe’s 35 years at the helm at one America’s longest-running community literary centers.”


Read City Newspaper’s coverage of the announcement here.

Read Democrat & Chronicle’s coverage of the announcement here.


For further information, or to set up an interview contact: Chris Fanning, Director of Communications at 585.473.2590 ext 105 or my email at