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Bodour Al Qasimi, founder and CEO of Kalimat Group in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, was confirmed as President-elect of the International Publishers Association (IPA) at the organisation’s virtual General Assembly (GA) this week, with Karine Pansa, owner and Publishing Director at Girassol Brasil Edições, a children’s book publisher in São Paulo Brazil, confirmed as Vice President-elect.

The elections mean that the IPA will have female leadership for only the second time in its 124-year history; the last woman to lead the organisation was  the Argentinian publisher Ana Maria Cabellas,who served from 2004 to 2008.  From 2009 IPA presidents and vice-presidents began serving two year terms, with the VPs automatically becoming president.

Online elections were held in November at which all IPA Full Members were able to vote.  At the GA the Senegal Publishers Association was given full membership of the IPA, with provisional membership given to the Book Industry Organisation of Trinidad and Tobago and the Uganda Publishers Association.

Among new appointments announced for the IPA’s Freedom to Publish Committee are the Georgian publisher Gvantsa Jobava, who recently attended the Sharjah International Book Fair Publishers Conference, and Matt Barblan, vice-president of public policy at the Association of American Publishers.

IPA Vice President, Bodour Al Qasimi said: “As the second woman to assume the role [of IPA President] in 124 years, this is an important advancement in our efforts to promote diversity and inclusion. Leading by example puts the IPA on an even firmer footing to make the case for a diverse publishing industry. I plan to work closely with all of our members to help our industry recover from the ravages of 2020 and transition smoothly to a post-COVID world; and to set our essential industry on a bright, new track.”

Karine Pansa, IPA Vice President-elect said: “It is an honour for me to be elected the next Vice President of the International Publishers Association. I am looking forward to working with our President-elect, Bodour Al Qasimi, to overcome the many challenges created by this difficult year, but also to seize the opportunities it creates to reshape our industry for the future.”

The IPA’s 2020 General Assembly represented  the last for outgoing President, Hugo Setzer who thanked IPA’s members for all their support and encouraged them to continue to work together to overcome the damage of the COVID pandemic on the international book industry.

He said: “I have been really privileged to be able to serve you, first as Vice-President and then as President. Since I started as Vice-President four years ago, I said that I wanted to build bridges. Bridges of understanding between different countries, different cultures and ways of thinking. I am sure there is so much more that unites us than the minor issues of difference between us. That is why IPA has remained united for almost 125 years now. Let us continue to work together to be able to emerge stronger from this crisis.”