Matthew Spellberg began his tenure as President of NAPF in 2021. A writer and scholar by training, he holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from Princeton University and an MA and BA from Harvard. He was a Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows, and is an Editor-at-Large at Cabinet Magazine. His scholarly research focuses on the cultural history of dreaming—the way dreams are shared and used by different societies for purposes of art, religion and politics. He is also a student of Indigenous languages, particularly Tlingit, spoken in Southeast Alaska and the Yukon. His writings on art, politics, education, and anthropology have appeared in The Yale Review, PS: Politics and Political Science, Cabinet Magazine, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Guernica, RES, and elsewhere.
For six years he was a teacher and organizer in New Jersey prisons. He served on the leadership of the Prison Teaching Initiative at Princeton University, where he helped to develop a BA program for incarcerated students in partnership with Rutgers University. Later, at Harvard, he was founder of the Native Cultures of the Americas Seminar, a national forum for Indigenous Studies. He has taught at Princeton, Harvard, and the Rhode Island School of Design. In addition, he is involved with Outer Coast College, a new post-secondary school in Alaska built on a model of student self-governance.