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Kurtis Neu

Program Associate, NEA Big Read
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Kurt is convinced that nothing in the world is more powerful than a story. Nothing. Not even the Incredible Hulk, with his bulging biceps and fits of rage, can match the strength and endurance of a good story well told.

Stories have the power to transform lives and to transform entire communities. And there is no better place to find a powerful story—an uplifting, moving, compelling, heartbreaking, “I-can’t-believe-this-is-happening” kind of story—than inside a good book.

It’s no surprise, then, that Kurt is an advocate for books and learning, and believes strongly in the value of the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read, which he helps manage.

Prior to joining the NEA Big Read team in September 2019, Kurt worked for four years in the magical and mysterious land of stories: the public library. At the library, he managed the teen makerspace—a place for teens to hang out and geek out—and he coordinated STEM programming for kids and their families. He became known for his innovative use of pipe cleaners and popsicle sticks and his mastery of duct tape application.

Ask Kurt about the one time he and a group of middle-schoolers attempted a chemistry experiment in the basement of the library. Let’s just say that learning can be very, very messy.

Areas of Expertise

Program management, customer service, potato chips, writing and editing, potato chips, Adobe Photoshop (and soon to be InDesign), grant management


Kurt holds a bachelor’s degree in cultural anthropology and journalism from St. Cloud State University. As a college student, he conducted research on youth development and access to out-of-school learning opportunities in low-income neighborhoods. This experience made quite an impression on him, so he decided to co-found a nonprofit organization to increase access to afterschool programming for children living in poverty.