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September 2023

Welcoming Sony Ton-Aime

By News

Photo credit Dave Munch

Dear friends,

We are thrilled to announce the appointment of Sony Ton-Aime as the new Executive Director of Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures. This announcement concludes an extensive national search process led by our board to find the ideal candidate to lead our organization into the future.

In his most recent role as Michael I. Rudell Director of Literary Arts at Chautauqua Institution, Sony has spearheaded innovative programming and built partnerships to engage the community. He coordinates online and in-person lectures and workshops, supervises staff, and runs a poetry makerspace and bookstore that serve over 100,000 community members annually.

Sony has demonstrated skill in collaboration and relationship building, forging partnerships with organizations like the African American Heritage House to launch the Mirror Project Reading Circle, monthly book discussion that has since evolved to include lectures by experts and a countywide book read. Sony worked with Jamestown High School to lead student writing workshops, and he partnered with the local radio station to broadcast the writing of their students.

Through collaboration within Chautauqua, Sony has brought acclaimed authors like Matthew Desmond and Elizabeth Kolbert to speak in the 4,000-seat Amphitheater. In response to the perceived deterioration of civil discourse in our country, Sony brought together literary organizations to pilot the Forum on Democracy at Chautauqua Institution, with a lineup of speakers that includes Sayu Bhojwani, David Blight, Suzanne Nossel, and Michael Waldman.

The board of Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures comments, “We welcome Sony with enthusiasm and are eager for him to join as the next Executive Director, building on his experience from Chautauqua. We know he will continue the strong legacy of Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures and be a great ambassador for literature, artists, and the City of Pittsburgh.”

Sony remarks, “the staff, led by my remarkable predecessor, Stephanie Flom, has done an amazing job to bring Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures to where it is now, and I feel lucky to be part of this legacy. I feel lucky for two reasons—first, as Executive Director I am presented with a firm foundation to build on, and second, because the city of Pittsburgh has the best and most serious readers.

“I look forward to facilitating the deep connections that authors and readers seek out when they write and read books. Our goal will be to engage our community in meaningful and critical conversations that, in time, will lead to real changes for the betterment of our city and country. Together, we will foster a place where our community can feel a deep sense of ownership and confidence in their engagement with our programs.”

Please join us in warmly welcoming Sony Ton-Aime to Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures! His start date is Monday, October 2. Sony will greet Ten Evenings subscribers from the stage of the Carnegie Library Lecture Hall at our lecture with Matthew Desmond. We hope to see you at a lecture soon.


Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures Board and Staff