Professor Elizabeth Alexander is a poet, essayist, playwright, and teacher. In 2009, she composed and delivered “Praise Song for the Day” for the inauguration of President Barack Obama. She has published six books of poems, two collections of essays, and a play. Her book of poems, American Sublime (2005), was one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize and was one of the American Library Associations “Notable Books of the Year.” Her play, “Diva Studies” (1996), was produced at the Yale School of Drama.
She has been recently appointed President of the Andrew H. Mellon Foundation, the nation's biggest funder in the arts and humanities. She previously served as the inaugural Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry at Yale University, where she taught for 15 years and chaired the African American Studies Department. she previously taught at Smith College, where she directed The Poetry Center, and at the University of Chicago, where she was awarded the Quantrell Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. Her memoir, The Light of the World, was released to widespread acclaim in April 2015.