It is with great sadness that I must inform you that Julie Mancini died on August 29, 2022 surrounded by her immediate family.
As many of you know, Julie was the Executive Director of Literary Arts before there was a Literary Arts. She began her work with us by running Portland Arts & Lectures in its very early days, building it from a small audience at the First Congregational Church to the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall and an audience of over 2,000. This effort deserves the context that Portland at the time was not the cultural hub nor the literary town it is today. She, with a handful of others, put Portland on the cultural map. This was a Herculean effort. And of course, that audience is so much more than an audience: they are a huge community full of love for books, ideas, and art. This is what Julie created and it is indeed enduring, as we saw that audience’s loyalty and commitment all through the pandemic. We are here today, in part, because of their commitment to the organization. And that is because of Julie.
Julie also led the merger with Oregon Institute of Literary Arts (now the Oregon Book Awards & Fellowships program) in 1993, creating a statewide organization now known as Literary Arts. She also oversaw the founding of our Writers in the Schools (now Youth Programs) in 1997. All these programs have not only endured, but thrived and grown because she created, at their root, meaningful programs that changed people’s lives in our city and state.
When she left the organization, its programs were thriving, the budget had grown to $750,000, and she had built our first endowment totaling over $1 million. This is an astonishing accomplishment and it ensured Literary Arts’ future.
Julie was a force of nature. She was smart and wry and funny and caring and pretty much unstoppable. She was radically creative. I feel incredibly fortunate to have known her, and feel the force of her professional accomplishments every day as I continue her work. I regret only that some of you never got the chance to know her.
Executive Director, Literary Arts
Listen to Julie Mancini on The Archive Project talking about the early days of Literary Arts during our 30th birthday celebration on September 8, 2014. She shares memories from her fifteen-year career, including the ways in which she helped convince world-famous writers such as Joan Didion to visit Portland. Sharing feedback from visiting authors, Mancini chronicles how Portland Arts & Lectures grew to be the largest literary lecture series in the nation.