Season 2, Episode 6

The Arts and a Just World

In the sixth episode of Giving Done Right season two, CEP’s Phil and Grace talk with Dr. Elizabeth Alexander, poet and president of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Elizabeth delves into how to apply a social and racial justice lens to your philanthropy, the fundamental role of the arts in a healthy society, and how the arts and artists are faring as we enter a new phase of the pandemic.

Guest Info:
Elizabeth Alexander—poet, educator, scholar, and cultural advocate—is president of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the nation’s largest funder in arts and culture, and humanities in higher education. With more than two decades of experience leading innovative programs in education, philanthropy, and beyond, Ms. Alexander builds partnerships at Mellon to support the arts and humanities while strengthening educational institutions and cultural organizations across the world.

Over the course of a distinguished career in education, Ms. Alexander has taught and inspired a generation of students. She was the Wun Tsun Tam Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University from 2015 until joining the Foundation in 2018. Between 2000 and 2015, Ms. Alexander taught at Yale University, where she was a professor in the departments of African American Studies, American Studies, and English, helping rebuild the school’s African American Studies department while serving as its chair for four years.

An author or co-author of fourteen books, Ms. Alexander was twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize: for poetry with American Sublime and for biography with her 2015 memoir, The Light of the World. In 2009, Ms. Alexander composed and delivered a poem, “Praise Song for the Day,” for President Barack Obama’s inauguration.

Alexander earned a BA from Yale University, an MA from Boston University, and a PhD in English from the University of Pennsylvania. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, and serves on the board of the Pulitzer Prize.

Executive Producer: Sarah Martin
Audio engineer: Kevin O’Connell
Additional editing: Isabel Hibbard
Music: “FasterFasterBrighter” and “Kid Kodi” by Blue Dot Sessions
Artwork: Jay Kustka

The Monument Project
National Monument Audit by Monument Lab
Persevering Through Crisis: The State of Nonprofits (CEP)
Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander
Equal Justice Initiative’s National Memorial for Peace and Justice
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson