Kennedy, Susan

Susan Petersen Kennedy

Susan Petersen Kennedy is known in the publishing industry for her laser-focused vision and skill, delivering results year after year by developing a sustaining environment where creative people thrive and are inspired to discover, cultivate, and publish must-read books. 

Her world-renowned Penguin imprints publishing homes include historic, signature imprints such as Putnam, Viking, Dutton, Plume, Tarcher, Perigee, and Penguin Trade, which she propelled to greater prosperity; newer ones like Penguin Press, Portfolio, Sentinel, and Blue Rider, which she helped establish and whose direction she set; and Riverhead, the 20-year-old prestigious, flourishing publisher she founded and personally led for 12 years. Under Petersen Kennedy, these imprints have published authors who have won Nobel and Pulitzer Prizes, National Book and National Book Critics Circle Awards, and many other honors. She has overseen her imprints’ publication of more than 1,000 national bestsellers.

Previously at Random House, she was head of the Ballantine Publishing Group and oversaw the purchase of Fawcett from CBS and published that paperback imprint’s first hardcovers. She joined the Putnam Berkley Group in 1994, playing a crucial role in its merger with Penguin in 1997. From 2001 until 2015, she was president of the Penguin Group, which included Viking, Penguin, Penguin Press, Dutton, Putnam, and Riverhead.

Petersen Kennedy has been awarded the coveted Matrix Award for Books by New York Women in Communications, served on the Advisory Board for the Women’s Rights Division of Human Rights Watch, the board for the National Book Foundation, which is responsible for the National Book Awards, the Board of the Bard Summerscape Festival, and as chairman of the Paperback Division of the AAP.