The Sun Valley Writers’ Conference started back in 1995 and the first event, featuring 12 writers and 108 attendees, took place at The Community School in Sun Valley, where David Halberstam gave the opening talk. It turned out that a growing number of readers and writers had a deep yearning to hear from experienced authors – to engage, match wits, learn and listen. Word quickly spread that something special was happening in Sun Valley. Our earliest partners – Mary Anne Dolan, Brandon Stoddard, Barbara and Ethan Canin, Anne and Karl Fleming, Barbi Reed, Diane Peavey and Van Gordon Sauter, along with a Founders’ Circle that was comprised of authors, editors, supporters, and friends, brainstormed with us. Youngsters volunteered to help out just as long as they could listen to their “writer rock stars.” Early on we developed a scholarship/fellowship program and we invited students and teachers to attend free of charge. Attendees came from all over the country, and writers came from all over the world. Pulitzer Prize winners David Halberstam, Frank McCourt, and W.S. Merwin became our literary advisors.
Under the leadership of a small, dedicated board of directors we became a 501(c)(3) Idaho nonprofit corporation; we grew dramatically and decamped for breathtaking venues at the Sun Valley Resort. In the meantime a new, young team began to guide SVWC into the future. Robin Eidsmo, Executive Director of SVWC, provides inspired leadership. Novelist John Burnham Schwartz, our Literary Director, and essayist, Anne Taylor Fleming, Associate Director, shape the program. Marcia Mode-Stavros, also Associate Director, manages a creative, part-time staff.