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Helena Kennedy steps down from The Booker Prize Foundation

Helena Kennedy steps down from The Booker Prize Foundation

Baroness Helena Kennedy QC is stepping down as chair of the Booker Prize Foundation, having completed five successful years. This follows her appointment in 2019 as Director of the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), a role which looks likely to occupy much of her time in the future. 

Helena has led the board through significant change; the launch of the newly evolved International Booker Prize, which jointly recognises the author of a foreign language work and the translator who brings it alive in the English language; the debate around the expansion of the prize to include books written in English the world over; and on the expiry of the Man Group sponsorship she oversaw the generous new funding agreement with Crankstart, the philanthropic foundation established by Michael Moritz and Harriet Heyman. Prior to assuming the chairmanship, Helena had been a member of the Booker Prize Foundation Board for many years.

Helena leaves the prize deeply embedded in the global literary firmament and ready for a new era.

She says, ‘I have loved my long involvement with the Booker Prize which gave me the opportunity to indulge my passion for books, but no one should be on a board for too long. As the new director of the International Bar Association’s Institute of Human Rights I have a lot on my plate but I will remain closely connected with the prize as it embraces new challenges.’

Ben Okri, fellow Trustee, writer and poet, says, ‘For the last five years Helena Kennedy has served as the chair of the Booker Prize Foundation with distinction, with vision, and with her customary generosity of spirit. She has brought her formidable spirit and humanity to the task of leadership and leaves the Foundation poised for the new chapter of its work.

‘The Booker Prizes remain among the foremost literary prizes in the world, a global phenomenon, and their stability over the last five years owes much to the guidance of Helena Kennedy, whose strength and clarity will be missed.’

Baroness Kennedy will step down at the end of February 2020. Her successor will be announced shortly.