With fire in her eyes, Terry Tempest Williams enthusiastically took hold of Torrey House Press publisher and executive director Kirsten Allen’s arm. It was late November 2015 and Terry and Kirsten were at Back of Beyond Book’s silver anniversary party in Moab, Utah. “If you have any openings at Torrey House, I know the absolutely perfect candidate,” Terry told Kirsten. Alisha Anderson had been Terry’s assistant while Alisha was getting a MS in Environmental Humanities at the University of Utah and Terry could not stop singing her praises. Alisha had already shown up on Kirsten’s radar when Michael McLane, who oversees literary programming for Utah Humanities, recommended her to be on a panel about the Great Basin that Kirsten moderated for the Utah Humanities Book Festival the previous month in Salt Lake City. And Kirsten was already impressed.
In September of 2015, Torrey House Press converted to nonprofit status and now has a whole new challenge and opportunity of community building and fund raising to add to the already substantial demands of publishing. We knew we needed help, but the budget was tight and did not have much, if any, room for salaries. None-the-less, with Terry’s encouragement and our own sentiment that the experiment of promoting conservation through literature was worth it, Kirsten offered Alisha a job.
Jobs at literary nonprofits require a big component of passion and willingness to do a lot for small compensation. So we were thrilled when Alisha said she would love to join us. We are lucky to have her. Alisha was born and raised in northern California. She later moved to Utah and received a BFA in Studio Arts from Brigham Young University. After graduating from BYU she worked for a short time in the software industry. While she was well paid and otherwise happy there she found her heart still sought something wildland, something wildlife and conservation, a love and attraction that had been nurtured by her amateur naturalist mother and grandfather back in California as she grew up. As a result, she sought out and recently graduated from the University of Utah with a MS in Environmental Humanities, which is where she worked for Terry as a student. At Torrey House she now has the title of Development and Community Relations Manager where we hope to put her arts and conservation knowledge to good use.
Joining Torrey House is a leap of faith and we commend Alisha for it. She has much to do. With our expanded mission enabled by being a nonprofit corporation she will be in charge of setting up conferences with an expanded community of conservation NGOs and writers, for grant writing and fund raising, and for the overall design look and feel at THP. Right out of the chute we already have four upcoming titles that celebrate and confirm our public lands national heritage, work that is critical but won’t happen without adequate funds to produce them. Readers, writers and supporters can help welcome Alisha to Torrey House by making a donation. Be sure to say, “Welcome Alisha!”