Book Festival Staff Expands, Adds Clay Smith and Maritza Cirlos Full-Time

  • August 4, 2019
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The San Antonio Book Festival continues to grow, adding longtime Literary Director, Clay Smith, and Managing Director, Maritza Cirlos, to its full-time staff. Both have been with SABF since the inaugural Festival in 2013.

Clay Smith, Katy Flato, and Tracey Bennett

Clay exited his role as editor in chief of Kirkus Reviews, one of the nation’s leading book review publications, in June. He had previously fulfilled his SABF role, which involves selecting the author lineup and programming the schedule of events, in a part-time capacity while working for Kirkus full time. Clay was part of the original trio of SABF, which included San Antonio Public Library Foundation President Tracey Bennett and San Antonio Book Festival founding Executive Director and now Governing Board Chairman Katy Flato.

“It has been our dream to get Clay to work full time for the Festival,” said Katy. “We call him our ‘Secret Weapon’; with Clay orchestrating our author selection, we have always been able to punch above our weight. From the beginning, the talent and stature of the authors we’ve presented has been hugely impressive and ambitious for a new, smaller festival far from the publishing center of New York. This is all thanks to Clay.”

Maritza first got involved with SABF in her role working for the CE Group. She joined the Festival staff as a part-time Production Director in 2018 and is responsible for all event logistics, volunteer chairpersons, and the Festival financials.

“Maritza makes all Festival events run smoothly,” said Lilly Gonzalez, SABF’s Executive Director. “We count on her to make us look professional, make the Festival experience pleasant for the public, keep a level head in the middle of the chaos, even save us money—and she always delivers.”

Maritza and Clay will share the work of growing the Festival’s educational outreach efforts, including the Authors in Schools program, which sends Festival authors to Title I schools to deliver presentations and gift students with a copy of the author’s book. In 2019 the Authors in Schools program impacted 1,535 students at eight school visits.

“It’s a new era for the Book Festival with Clay and Maritza joining the team full time,” Lilly continued. “The core staff members are now fully focused on making the Festival better than ever. We can’t wait for you to see what we can do.”

Maritza Cirlos, Lilly Gonzalez, and Clay Smith

SABF was founded as the signature program of the San Antonio Public Library Foundation in 2012 with the Texas Book Festival, the Central Library and the Southwest School of Art as founding partners. Since its inaugural festival in April 2013, SABF has undergone tremendous growth: 64 authors and 4,000 festival goers in 2013 to 96 authors and 18,000 festival goers in 2019. Over the course of the past seven years, SABF staff has expanded Festival programming to include the Get Lit Author Series, which brings renowned authors such as Alfredo Corchado, Mark Bittman, Mimi Swartz, and Julian Castro to San Antonio outside of the one day of the Festival; The Moth Mainstage, an internationally acclaimed storytelling program that features five storytellers telling true stories on stage without notes; Book It! luncheons, which feature opportunities for Festival attendees to dine with a Festival author over an intimate lunch with just eight guests on the day of the Festival; and the singular Festival fundraising event, the Book Appétit Literary Feast, the kickoff luncheon on the Friday before the Festival that has showcased Ann Patchett, Paula Poundstone, and Ron Chernow.

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