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Writers & Books Celebrates the Past and Looks Toward the Future

Joe Flaherty returns as Interim Director as Kyle Semmel departs organization


Rochester NY: After 3 years of moving Writers & Books towards the next phase of the organization’s mission, Executive Director Kyle Semmel will be stepping down from his position in October. Writers & Books founder Joe Flaherty will return as Interim Director while a Selection Committee begins a nationwide search for a new Executive Director.


“We appreciate Kyle’s work with Writers & Books, including his leadership in developing innovative programming such as the Ladder Literary Conference,” said Trevor Harrison, president of Writers & Books’ Board of Directors. “After a thoughtful and thorough process, Kyle and the Board mutually agreed that this course of action would be in the best interest of all parties.”


Since coming on as ED in 2016, Semmel has made strides to move the organization forward, inline with Flaherty’s original mission: Bringing words and people together in the Rochester community. Semmel achieved this by crafting create new workshops & programs, branching out into the community through partnerships with organizations like BOA Editions, Open Letter Books, the Black Authors Expo, and more, and last June, launching a local literary conference in downtown Rochester, The Ladder.


“I’m proud of what Writers & Books has accomplished during the past few years, but for me, personally, it’s time for a change,” said Semmel. “I have truly enjoyed my time working with the amazing staff, our instructors, and everyone taking our classes. Rochester has such a strong, vibrant writing community and I’m excited to participate in a different way.”


Incoming Board President Bruce Gianniny will be forming the Selection Committee tasked with finding the next Executive Director while working closely with Flaherty and the Writers & Books staff to formulate an efficient and successful search.


“I want to thank the Board for having the confidence in me to come back and lead this organization on an interim basis,” said Flaherty. “And I want to thank Kyle for leaving Writers & Books in a place where I can continue the trajectory he has set.”


Writers & Books, Rochester’s literary center, will continue to operate as usual, offering workshops on reading and writing, bringing visiting authors in for readings & book signings, and producing quality programming to serve the Rochester literary community.


Media questions can be directed to Chris Fanning at