Penny Grubb speaking at the All Party Writers Group (APWG) Summer Reception in June 2012.
Penny Grubb Steps Down
After serving two three-year terms as Chair of the ALCS Board, Dr Penny Grubb has announced that she will step down from her post in November this year.
Penny Grubb was first elected to the ALCS Board in 2004, becoming Chair in 2007. This was an important year for ALCS, when it was a driving force behind the establishment of the All Party Writers Group (APWG), the parliamentary group set up to protect the interests of writers. 2007 also marked the 30th anniversary of ALCS.
Primarily an academic writer, Penny is also an award-winning crime novelist: her debut crime novel, The Doll Makers, won a CWA Debut Dagger in 2004. An active trade unionist and with ten years' experience in international research in healthcare informatics, she became interested in intellectual property through campaigning to help creators retain their rights in books, artwork and maps.
"I think Penny can look back with pride at her time at ALCS. I know she will be missed greatly by everyone on the ALCS staff and board." Owen Atkinson, CEO of ALCS.
During her time as Chair; Penny has led the company through a change in governance, and some significant shifts in funding to the creative industries. Despite the economic downturn, Penny has presided over a period which has seen the amount paid out by ALCS to Members rise (between the financial years 2006/7 to 2011/12) by £13million.
Barbara Hayes, Deputy CEO at ALCS, pays this tribute to Penny's Chairmanship: "She has been an exemplary Chair, guiding ALCS through some tough economic times and threats to copyright from both our own government and rumblings being made by the EU.She is thoughtful, thought-provoking and not afraid to stand up and be counted on any subject related to protecting and promoting authors' rights."
Owen Atkinson, CEO of ALCS adds: "With a background in writing, academia and trade unions, it is no surprise that Penny placed the needs of writers at the very heart of ALCS and our operations. But on top of this, Penny has brought new ideas and vision to the organisation and throughout her tenure as Chair, ALCS has grown in size and stature. I think Penny can look back with pride at her time at ALCS – I know she will be missed greatly by everyone on the ALCS staff and board."
Dr Penny Grubb with APWG Chair John Whittingdale MP and Deputy CEO of ALCS Barbara Hayes, House of Commons Terrace, June 2009
CEO of ALCS Owen Atkinson with Penny at the ALCS AGM, November 2010
Educational Writers Award runner-up Patrick Dillon with Penny at the 2012 awards, December 2012
Author and founder Member of ALCS, Maureen Duffy adds this praise for Penny Grubb's time as Chair:
"I would especially highlight her ability to weld together, with a kind of unflashy, calm wisdom, the Board and the Executive. In order for an organisation to work to its maximum efficiency, its two parts must function harmoniously. This, her stable, enlightened leadership has quietly achieved,resulting in a growth in the income distributed to writers, and the lowest ever administration costs."
Commenting on her decision to step down as Chair, Penny Grubb told ALCS News:
"I had to think long and hard about it, but it felt like the right time. There's an advantage to continuity and experience, but an organisation like ALCS needs a fresh eye, and won't benefit from anyone being Chair for too long. I am definitely going to miss it however. It's been very challenging and I have enjoyed that challenge."
On leaving the Board, Penny is looking forward to resuming the full spectrum of her academic career at the University of Hull. And although she has managed to publish four crime novels while Chair, she is also looking forward to having more time to write. "I'm trying to do something more ambitious with my fifth novel, and having more structured time to work on it will definitely help".
What is she most proud of from her time as Chair of the ALCS Board? "That we have managed to keep the money coming in, and that at every AGM we've been able to announce that ALCS has had an even better year than the last one. I didn't think that was going to happen. It takes an enormous amount of work, and the ALCS Executive has been brilliant. ALCS is a very dynamic organisation that is really rising to the many challenges it faces. I've also really enjoyed the international side to the job, and gaining a perspective on writers, libraries and other organisations overseas. And finally, I'm pleased to have helped to oversee an overhaul of the whole IT structure of ALCS. My successor will really see the fruits of that".
What qualities does she believe her successor in the role of Chair needs to have?
"They must be passionate about writers and authors' rights because there are some tough challenges ahead. It's a job for someone who will rise to that. But I can assure them that they will be working with a dynamic organisation that is in excellent shape to meet those challenges, and a very good and engaged Board of Directors."
Penny Grubb will step down as Chair at the next ALCS AGM in November. Therefore we will shortly be asking any Members interested in applying for the role of Chair of the ALCS Board to submit their details, with interviews planned to take place over the summer. Please see next month's edition of ALCS News for details on how to apply.
All images in this article taken by Matt Crossick.