The Oak Park Public Library has hired its first director of equity and anti-racism. Stephen Jackson, the library’s manager of teen services, will start in his new position on Oct. 11, library officials announced in a statement Sept. 29.
“We are thrilled to welcome Stephen to this new role,” said David J. Seleb, Oak Park Public Library’s executive director. “His focus on building relationships, his commitment to serving the community, and his love of public libraries as hubs of learning and connection make him the ideal candidate.”
The library posted the opening for an equity and anti-racism director back in June. The library board approved an Anti-Racism Strategic Plan in March.
Jackson’s position is part of the library’s leadership team and he’ll work directly under Seleb and in collaboration with the library’s other directors.
“Together, the team will work to improve the library’s public service and staff relationships by ensuring policies and practices are equitable, inclusive, and anti-racist,” according to the library’s statement. “The Director of Equity and Anti-Racism also will help to train library staff on topics such as anti-racism, equity, diversity, inclusion, and restorative practices.”
The position comes with a starting salary ranging from $82,000 to $96,000. Seleb said in July that the position will be funded through the library’s general fund.
Jackson has been at the library for more than five years “engaging marginalized and vulnerable populations,” including teens and individuals experiencing various crises such as homelessness, library officials said.
He will work with the library’s leadership team to help find a new teen services manager, they added.
“I love motivating others, building consensus, supporting open communication, and working hard to create environments that are supportive for all,” Jackson said. “It is an honor to join the leadership team here at the Oak Park Public Library. I look forward to adding value to the library’s journey to becoming an antiracist and equitable organization.”
Jackson has a master’s of science degree in clinical mental health counseling and a bachelor’s of arts degree in behavioral sciences from National Louis University.
A trained restorative practitioner, he sits on the board or volunteers for a range of local organizations, including the library’s Anti-Racism Advisory Team, the Equity Team of Oak Park, and the Oak Park and River Forest High School’s Culture Climate and Behavior Committee, among others, library officials said.