New York, New York, June 30, 2017 — Cody Upton has been appointed Executive Director of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, beginning July 1, 2017. He will succeed Virginia Dajani, who is retiring after 27 years. Upton will be the fifth Executive Director in the Academy’s 119-year history.
Composer and Academy president Yehudi Wyner said, “Cody Upton has been with the Academy for over ten years and has demonstrated a deep understanding of its unique character and complex operation. We look forward to a seamless transition under his leadership.”
Upton joined the staff of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2006 as the Assistant to the Director, and was subsequently promoted to Manager and then Director of Operations. He has helped oversee building and staff operations, capital improvement projects, and, in his work with the Investment Committee, the Academy’s endowment. Since 2010, he has coordinated the annual Architecture Awards Program.
About his appointment, Upton said, “The Academy gives over $1 million a year in awards to writers, architects, composers, and visual artists, and presents their work in free exhibitions and events. It is an organization whose mission remains as vital today as it was a hundred years ago. I am honored to build upon Virginia’s remarkable record of stewardship, and to continue to make the Academy a vibrant and relevant institution in the twenty-first century.”
Upton grew up in Santa Barbara, CA, and received a B.A. from Columbia University and an M.A. in Literary Reportage from NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. He was a Literary Journalism Fellow at The Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada, and has been published by the Brooklyn Rail and Paris Review Daily. He is currently working on a reported memoir about his father.
Virginia Dajani will retire on June 30, 2017. During her 27 years as Executive Director, she shepherded the unification of the former National Institute of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, organized the Academy’s centennial celebration, and managed several capital projects, including the Academy’s acquisition of the American Numismatic Society’s former headquarters and the recreation and permanent installation of the composer Charles Ives’s Connecticut studio. She also helped inaugurate several awards. “Her tenure has been extraordinary,” said Mr. Wyner, “directing our affairs with fidelity, intelligence, and love. To every member she has extended warmth and understanding and, in a sense, can be thought of as the soul of the Academy.”