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Kitty Kelley Gifts Biographers International Organization $1 Million

A lifetime of loving books inspires author's generous endowment.

Biographers International Organization (BIO) announced a gift of $1 million, to be given in increments of $200,000 over five years starting June 1, 2023, from famed biographer Kitty Kelley.

BIO’s president Linda Leavell formally accepted the gift on May 20, 2023 during BIO’s annual Conference at the Leon Levy Center for Biography. BIO’s Long-range Planning Committee will oversee the gift and make recommendations for its application to the Board of Directors. This gift is the largest single contribution ever received by BIO. 

Georgetown-based Kitty Kelley is the bestselling author of multiple biographical works where she has displayed courage and deftness in writing unvarnished accounts of some of the most powerful figures in politics, media, and popular culture, including Oprah Winfrey, the Bush Family, the Royal Family, Nancy Reagan, Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor, and Jackie Kennedy Onassis.

For more than a dozen years Kelley has been a committed supporter of BIO, leading fundraising efforts, growing membership and seeking to raise awareness about the art and craft of biography.

In recognition of her outstanding contributions to the field of biography, Kelley recently received the 2023 BIO Award. “We admire her courage in speaking truth to power,” said Heather Clark, chair of the BIO Awards Committee, “and her determination to forge ahead with the story in the face of opposition from the powerful figures she holds accountable."
Kitty Kelley explains that her gift springs from a lifetime of loving books. “Reading and writing biographies have enriched my life, and so I hope my endowment will enable BIO to continue sharing the gifts of life stories. For me, literacy is the foundation for a life of joy and purpose, and so this gift underwrites the future of Biographers International Organization to continue sharing that joy and purpose far into the future.”

“Even in this era of artificial intelligence and changes in the digital ecosystem, biography remains a universal verity," Kitty continues. "The meaning might change, but the message remains universal. As President Kennedy said sixty years ago: ‘What makes journalism so fascinating and biography so interesting is the struggle to answer that single question: ‘What’s he like?’”