NEW YORK – At a time when threats to books in schools and libraries have reached an unprecedented level, the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC), has elected a new chair of its Board of Directors—Emily Knox, a leading scholar of information and library science who possesses deep expertise in the fields of intellectual freedom and information access. NCAC is an alliance of 59 national nonprofit organizations that is committed to the non-partisan defense of free expression.
NCAC Executive Director Chris Finan said, “Emily Knox is a leading voice in the free speech scholarship that is shaping future generations. She has been a dedicated member of NCAC’s board for eight years and her leadership will help NCAC apply our 50 years of experience to the new challenges facing free expression.”
Knox first joined the NCAC board in 2016. In this new position, she succeeds Jon Anderson, president and publisher of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division. Anderson, who became chair in 2015, continues to serve on the board.
NCAC also has expanded its board to include members from the fields of law, publishing and film. Over the past year, NCAC has welcomed Randall Kennedy, a renowned legal scholar and author; Barbara Marcus, president and publisher of Random House Children’s Books; Mitchell Kaplan, a prominent independent bookseller; Oren Teicher, the former CEO of the American Booksellers Association; and Gina Maria Leonetti, a producer and director of TV and films. NCAC’s board expansion is driven in part by the reorganization of its unique arts advocacy to include more cultural fields.
“NCAC has a long history of principled, non-partisan advocacy,” said Knox. “At a time when free speech issues can feel highly-partisan, NCAC is well-positioned to ensure that new generations of Americans, regardless of their political views, respect and defend everyone’s right to read, create and express themselves freely.”
The NCAC board plays an instrumental role in guiding the innovative development of resources and tools needed to defend freedom of expression. Representing a robust network of educators, publishers, and free speech thought leaders, the board works to empower our nation’s teachers, librarians, students, and the general public, as many address growing attempts to ban books and instructional materials.
Emily Knox, associate professor, School of Information Sciences, University of Illinois
Knox is an associate professor in the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her book, Book Banning in 21st Century America, was published by Rowman & Littlefield and is the first monograph in the Beta Phi Mu Scholars’ Series. Her next book, Foundations of Intellectual Freedom, will be published by the American Library Association in December 2022. Her articles have been published in the Library Quarterly, Library and Information Science Research, and the Journal of Intellectual Freedom and Privacy. Her research focuses on information access, intellectual freedom, censorship, information ethics, information policy, and the intersection of print culture and reading practices. Knox serves as editor of the Journal of Intellectual Freedom and Privacy and is a member of the Mapping Information Access research team. She received her Ph.D. from the Rutgers University School of Communication & Information.
Randall Kennedy, professor, Harvard Law School
Randall Kennedy is Michael R. Klein Professor at Harvard Law School where he teaches courses on contracts, criminal law, and the regulation of race relations. He was born in Columbia, South Carolina. He attended St. Albans School, Princeton University, Oxford University, and Yale Law School. He served as a law clerk for Judge J. Skelly Wright of the United States Court of Appeals and Justice Thurgood Marshall of the United States Supreme Court. He is a member of the bar of the District of Columbia and the Supreme Court of the United States.
Awarded the 1998 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award for Race, Crime, and the Law, Mr. Kennedy writes for a wide range of scholarly and general interest publications. His other books are For Discrimination: Race Affirmation Action, and the Law (2013), The Persistence of the Color Line: Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency (2011), Sellout: The Politics of Racial Betrayal (2008), Interracial Intimacies: Sex, Marriage, Identity, and Adoption (2003), and Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word (2002). A member of the American Law Institute, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Association, Mr. Kennedy also is a Princeton University Trustee Emeritus.
Mitchell Kaplan, founder of Books & Books; co-founder, Miami Book Fair; former President of American Booksellers Association
Mitchell Kaplan, a Miami Beach, Florida native, founded Books & Books in Coral Gables, Florida, in 1982. Books & Books now has locations throughout South Florida, including a store in Key West, Florida guided by Judy Blume and her husband, George. Books & Books was named Bookstore of the Year in 2015 by Publishers Weekly.
Kaplan also co-founded the Miami Book Fair and serves as the chair of its board of advisors. He is a former president of the American Booksellers Association (ABA) and also served on the board of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression. In 2011, he received the National Book Foundation’s prestigious “Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community.”
Kaplan co-founded the Mazur Kaplan Company to bring books to the screen. Its film adaptations include The Man Who Invented Christmas, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, All the Bright Places and Let Him Go.
Gina Maria Leonetti, Director/Producer
Gina Maria Leonetti spent approximately 20 years as a Directors Guild of America Film/TV Assistant Director, working on a variety of projects from television shows, commercials and major motion pictures. Some of her credits include the films Five Corners, Outrageous Fortune, Conspiracy Theory, Married to the Mob and The Silence of the Lambs, the television series Tattingers and numerous commercials.
More recently, Leonetti was executive producer of the short film “First Chair;” the documentaries “Fellowship of Reconciliation: Over 100 years of Waging Peace & Justice,” “Art & Heart: The World of Isaiah Sheffer,” and “Playing with Fire: Jeannette Sorrell and the Mysteries of Conducting.”
Leonetti has served on the board of several non-profits, including the 2nd Stage Theater Company and the West Side Campaign Against Hunger, New York City’s largest emergency food pantry.
Barbara Marcus, President and Publisher, Random House Children’s Books
Barbara Marcus is a leading business and marketing strategist in the areas of children’s content and distribution and is currently president and publisher of Random House Children’s Books, the world’s largest children’s trade publisher. Previously, Marcus was a strategic innovations advisor to Penguin Books USA. Before her tenure at Penguin and Random House, she was president of Scholastic Children’s Book Publishing and Distribution. Among other revenue-building ventures, she led the publishing effort for six out of the seven Harry Potter titles as well as book clubs and book fairs. Marcus serves on the advisory board of First Book; the board of directors of Graham Windham; and the Executive Publishing Committee of United Jewish Appeal (UJA) Federation of New York.
Oren Teicher, former CEO, American Booksellers Association
Oren J. Teicher retired as the chief executive officer of the American Booksellers Association in December 2019. He worked on behalf of independent bookstores for more than 30 years, beginning in 1990 as the ABA associate executive director, then as director of government affairs, and, through 2009, as ABA’s chief operating officer. He was appointed as ABA’s CEO in 2009.
Teicher has been an active defender of First Amendment rights. In the mid-1980s, he was president of Americans for Constitutional Freedom, an organization formed to fight the censorship activities of the Attorney General’s Commission on Pornography. After he joined ABA, he helped create and then led the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the bookseller’s voice in the fight against censorship.
He also is a former chair of Media Coalition, an anti-censorship organization. Teicher is a former trustee of the White Plains (N.Y.) Public Library. He was named Publishers Weekly’s Person of the Year in 2013 and was the recipient of the National Book Foundation’s Literarian Award in 2019 for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community. The Westchester, New York chapter of ACLU gave him its John Peter Zenger Award.
Before joining ABA, Teicher served for many years as a senior staffer in the U.S. Congress and was later director of corporate communications for the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation.
Additional information regarding NCAC’s mission and leadership is available at ncac.org.
About National Coalition Against Censorship
Since its inception in 1974, the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) has functioned as a first responder in protecting freedom of expression, a fundamental human right and a keystone of democracy. Representing 59 trusted education, publishing, and arts organizations, NCAC encourages and facilitates dialogue between diverse voices and perspectives, including those that have historically been silenced.