Wordfest Announces Shelley Youngblut as Interim General Director

Wordfest Announces the Appointment of Shelley Youngblut as Interim General Director


(Calgary, AB – April 29, 2015) The Board of Directors of Wordfest are pleased to announce that Shelley Youngblut has been appointed Interim General Director, effective May 1.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Shelley on our 2015 Festival in October and are looking forward to the exciting, milestone year ahead,” says Deborah Bartlett, Chair, Wordfest Board of Directors. “Youngblut is a veteran Wordfest host and author and will lead the Festival into its 20th anniversary celebrations, expand the Indigenous Voices series and ensure the continued success of the Wordfest Youth and Francophone programs.”

A strong advocate for high-quality community engagement, Youngblut comes to Wordfest from her previous positions as Western Editor of the Globe and Mail and founding editor of Swerve, the Calgary Herald’s award-winning weekly magazine. A well-known “creative ringleader,” she is a regular member of the Unconventional Panel on CBC Calgary’s The Eyeopener, and recently curated the photography exhibit, Your Town is Our Town, at the Lougheed House Gallery.

Youngblut is a past participant of the Banff Centre’s Literary Journalism, Wired Writing Studio and Arts Journalism programs, as well as the Stanford Professional Publishing Program. She also packaged three sports books for Hyperion: The Quotable ESPN, Did You Know? and Way Inside ESPN’s X Games, which was named one of the best books for teens by the New York Public Library.

Jo Steffens, who became Executive Director in 2010, has left Wordfest to pursue other opportunities. She brought a depth of experience in new technologies, and her innovative programming helped the Festival grow in audience and stature nationally and internationally. Under Steffens’ leadership, Wordfest was the recipient of the Rozsa Award in Arts Management for Innovation in 2014.

“We thank Jo for her contributions, as well as those of the remarkable artists, patrons, staff, volunteers and enthusiastic audiences of all ages that have made Wordfest such a beloved member of Calgary’s cultural community,” Bartlett says.

Youngblut created her first magazine, VOX, while majoring in English at the University of Calgary, and has since been an editor at ESPN the Magazine, Seventeen, Cosmopolitan, Western Living, West and Toronto magazines. In 2009, she was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Western Magazine Awards for her contributions to the literary arts in Western Canada.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to guide one of the world’s great festivals into its third decade. Wordfest 3.0 will continue to bring readers and writers together in Calgary through innovative and inclusive programming that showcases the magic of the written (and spoken) word,” Youngblut says.

Wordfest is a not-for-profit arts organization that brings readers and writers together to experience the power of story through a premier international writers festival and year-round events in Calgary and the Bow Valley. The 20th annual Wordfest runs from October 13 to 18, 2015.

Bradley Walker, Strike Communications
Mobile 403-650-7832 |

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