SEATTLE—July 6, 2021—Last month, the Hugo House board of directors voted in a new president, Shahina Piyarali, a book reviewer, former attorney, and leader in the Seattle literary arts community. Piyarali, an expatriate from Pakistan, is passionate about promoting South Asian art and culture and has been a key member of the Hugo House board for the last several years.
From 2018–2021, Piyarali was the board president of Tasveer, a local social justice and arts organization, and she is currently also the co-chair of the National Council of Graywolf Press, a leading independent publisher championing underrepresented and diverse voices, and a board member of Daarna, a Seattle nonprofit working to empower refugee communities.
“I am excited to guide the strategic growth of Hugo House as we expand its offerings to reach diverse communities across Greater Seattle and add more enrichment programming for young writers,” Piyarali said. “Hugo House is a literary beacon in our beautiful city, and I am honored to play a part in its growth.”
Piyarali will be replacing former board president Richard Gemperle, who led Hugo House through its campaign to fund a permanent home on Capitol Hill. Gemperle’s tenure as president saw Hugo House through its capital campaign, transition to the new space, and its move to virtual during the COVID-19 pandemic. His work helped to leave the organization in a strong financial position.
“This is an exciting time for Hugo House, a moment of outreach and growth, and I believe that Shahina—with her keen leadership skills and passion for writing—is the ideal leader for this next phase,” Interim Executive Director Rob Arnold said. “And I’m personally delighted that, for the first time in its history, Hugo House is entirely BIPOC-led.”
Alongside Piyarali’s appointment, Hugo House is pleased to announce plans to expand its staff and programmatic reach. The organization recently posted listings for four new positions, which will help it continue to offer writing classes, events, summer camps, and other free programs as it works to create connections and serve writers throughout Greater Seattle and beyond.
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About Hugo House
Hugo House opens the literary world to everyone who loves books or has a drive to write—giving people a place to read words, hear words, and make their own words better through writing classes, readings and events, and residencies.
Our physical location is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic; all our programs currently operate online.