Gayatri Patnaik has been appointed the next director of nonprofit publisher Beacon Press, effective July 30. The news comes after Beacon director Helene Atwan announced plans to retire.

Patnaik has been with Beacon for two decades and in book publishing for more than 25 years. She previously held editorial positions at Rob Wiesbach Books/William Morrow, Routledge, and Palgrave Macmillan before moving to Beacon, where she has served as editorial director and, most recently, publisher.

Patnaik has acquired 200 books for Beacon's list by such authors as Kate Bornstein, Imani Perry, Marcus Rediker, Jeanne Theoharis, and Cornel West. She has also developed books in the King Legacy series by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and created and launched the Queer Action/Queer Ideas and ReVisioning History series. Patnaik was awarded the Editorial Excellence Award by the Biographers International Organization in 2020.

Founded in 1854, Beacon is a department of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). In a joint statement, UUA president Susan Frederick-Gray and executive v-p Carey McDonald said: "We believe unequivocally that she is the right choice for Beacon’s next Director.” Atwan added, “Hiring Gayatri was the best decision I ever made. I am just thrilled to have her taking over. The press simply could not be in better hands.”

“I wanted to publish books I felt connected to and be part of a movement bigger than myself," Patnaik said of joining Beacon. "I found all that and more at Beacon, through our books and through the richness of the community—our visionary authors, generations of talented Beacon staff and the UUA. I am grateful for Helene’s support and incredibly honored to lead this historic press.”