Co-President & Chief Programming Officer, SXSW (South by Soutthwest)
Hugh Forrest serves as Co-President and Chief Programming Officer for South by Southwest (SXSW). For his role of Chief Programming Officer, he oversees content for the SXSW Conference, as well as the SXSW Music Festival, the SXSW Film Festival, the SXSW Comedy Festival and SXSW EDU. Forrest was named "Austinite of the Year" in 2012 by the Austin Chamber of Commerce (along with fellow SXSW Directors Roland Swenson, Louis Black and Nick Barbaro). In 2014, Forrest and these other SXSW Directors were named Austin Entrepreneurs of the Year by Ernst & Young. He was awarded a Key to the City in January 2023 by Austin Mayor Steve Adler. He received an honorary doctorate of humane letters in 2018 from Kenyon College, his alma matter. In 2021, he was awarded Diversity Champion of the Year by the Austin Black Business Journal. In addition to his work at SXSW, Forrest has previously served on of the National Advisory Board for the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida. He has also served on the Board of Directors for Austin Habitat for Humanity. He currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Austin-based accessibility company Knowbility. Via his decades of work with the Austin Reggae Festival, he has helped to raise more than $1 million in funding for the Central Texas Food Bank. Before joining the SXSW team in the dark ages of 1989, he founded a small monthly alternative publication called The Austin Challenger. Forrest also wrote for several other newspapers and publications, including the Austin Chronicle, the Texas Sports Chronicle, the West Austin News, Willamette Week and the Seattle Weekly. For 2024, SXSW is scheduled March 8-16.