Katie Webb, who has been Executive Administrator of the International Authors Forum (IAF) since its inception, has sadly announced her departure from the organisation and will be leaving this week.
Webb joined IAF at the end of 2011 after finishing her Law conversion course at King’s College, which followed on from her MA in Medieval English. Her relentless hard work has seen 58 organisations from around the world put their name to the organisation, with Members comprising both small and large organisations collectively strengthening the voice of writers and visual artists. IAF now represents a global network of over 600,000 individual writers and artists.
Webb has overseen a number of essential campaigns and initiatives over the last few years, as well as representing IAF around the world, drawing interest from governments, industry and the general public. In her time, IAF became a fully accredited international NGO with permanent observer status at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). She also worked to achieve ‘Special Consultative’ status for IAF as a non-governmental organisation (NGO) with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, a further boost to IAF’s recognition at international level. Webb also helped to formulate The Ten Principles for Fair Contracts, a campaign launched by writers’ and artists’ unions all over the world at the start of this year putting pressure on publishers for fairer contracts. She also collaborated with the Accessible Books Consortium at WIPO and accessibility expert Dave Gunn to establish Accessible e-book guidelines for self-publishing Authors, a handbook for self-publishing authors who want to make their work more accessible for those with print-disabilities.
Commenting on her time, Webb said that it had been a privilege to work at IAF. She added: “Thanks to all our members for their enthusiastic and active participation, and for making IAF possible. With a recognised presence, a clear objective, and a defined identity, IAF has taken its rightful place in matters of international importance to authors and their rights – and this is just the start of its journey.”
“Having learned just how much authors are needed to speak up for their rights and to defend the crucial linguistic, artistic and cultural diversity upon which the world thrives, I am reassured that a body like IAF has come about and will continue to exist. Although I’m moving on from the organisation itself, I hope this isn’t the end of my contribution to this important work, nor to the many friendships I have made.”
Of Webb’s departure, Maureen Duffy, Founder of IAF, expressed her sadness. She said: “Among her many other attributes, I will miss Katie’s ability to engage with writers and their organisations around the world with great conviction and charm.”
John Degen, Chair of the International Authors Forum, said: “Like so much having to do with professional writing these days, the IAF necessarily works on a painfully slim budget. What that means for the practical work of such an organization is that you absolutely need passion and care from those involved. Katie brought that in bucketloads. When I skyped into meetings in Seoul or Geneva or wherever, Katie’s would be the first voice I would hear, and I knew immediately the meeting was running smoothly. She carried a lot of water for the world’s authors, and we will miss her. I have the feeling, though, we haven’t seen the last of her in the business of culture.”
Barbara Hayes, Company Secretary of IAF and Deputy CEO of the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS), a founding Member of IAF, said: “It has been a pleasure to work with Katie as the International Authors Forum developed into a well-respected voice for authors across the globe and especially at the World Intellectual Property Organisation in Geneva, where they are keen to hear issues pertaining to authors. Katie has been instrumental in dealing with the governance of the organisation and influencing new members to sign up, as well as ensuring the voice of our members are heard when authors’ rights are under threat. I wish her well for the future.”
Luke Alcott, along with Barbara Hayes, will be the main point of contact for IAF Members, non-member organisations, and other parties interested in the work of IAF.