Library Board Trustee Candidate
JUMP TO: Questionnaire
*EDITOR’S NOTE: Candidates submitted their own biographies
I’m a lifelong resident of Illinois and have been a member of the Oak Park community for the past nine years. I’m currently serving in my fourth year as an Oak Park Library Board Trustee and am incredibly proud of the work of the staff and leadership who continue to rise to needs of the community.
Professionally, I’ve spent the past twenty years leading corporate social responsibility, external affairs, and community volunteerism across the Chicagoland for Fortune 500 companies and national nonprofits. I previously worked on the campaign teams of Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulious and U.S. Senator Richard J. Durbin, and continue to be active in supporting friends and colleagues as they run for elected office.
I have two children at Lincoln Elementary School and am a passionate Oak Park children’s library user and advocate. I bring my love of learning and literature and my professional expertise in budget management and program development to my work as a Trustee.
How do you plan to facilitate the re-openings of the Dole and Maze branches?
As the library leadership has done and continues to do, we will evaluate the service levels focused on the safety of patrons and staff. We understand that desire for all facilities to operate regularly and for full services across our facilities. We will continue to do our best to provide flexible and responsive options for patrons that allow access to the tools and materials that they depend on, while working to ensure social distancing and safety guidelines can be met.
As a trustee, how do you intend to minimize the tax levy increases for residents after almost a year of limited library services and branch shutdowns?
The Oak Park property tax is an important consideration for all community leaders and weighs on all of our decisions at the library. It is something I always keep at the forefront of discussions about goals and priorities. The library has made difficult choices like many organizations to ensure the safety of all people by limiting service and facilities during COVID.
We also made an important choice to maintain all staff and continue to engage all team members in innovative and collaborative projects to serve the community throughout this past year. We provided new online services, virtual programming, expanded teen services, enhanced delivery and pick up options and continued important anti-racism work. The retirement the main library’s bonds provided us with an opportunity to invest thoughtfully in infrastructure, ensuring no unplanned capital expenditures or referendums and still allows us to reduce the levy for residents.
Explain your position on the library’s evolution from paid security to a social service model.
The library transitioned from a visible presence in building security prior to my tenure on the board. It was a change that was important not only to create a more welcoming environment for all patrons but to ensure that we were investing in an approach that would drive more effective long term resources to support community members.
The social service model is one that has improved our engagement with community members but it was just a first step. We know that more can be done and should be done to challenge our policies and to create a truly inclusive environment for our staff and our library community. This work is continuing today led by the Anti-racism advisory team and I’m proud to learn from the active community leaders who are helping to drive this work forward.
Why is it the library’s role to focus on equity and social justice issues?
The library, even in this difficult environment during a pandemic, is a place for everyone. Our strategic plan outlines our priorities; to connect people and build community, educate global citizens, and sustain, share and respect community resources.
In this time of uncertainty, inequity, trauma, and challenge it is more important than ever for us to continue to align our policies and support the library leadership in delivering against these goals. Only when we approach all of our work through equity can we meet the needs of all members of the community.
What experience and qualifications do you possess to help the library overcome those obstacles and limitations?
The role of the library board trustees is to listen to the community and steward our resources effectively through the budget process. We are also responsible for hiring, managing and evaluating the Executive Director of the library.
As a leader with more than twenty years in non-profit fundraising and corporate social responsibility I have extensive experience in evaluating investments in facilities and program implementation.
As a professional responsible for managing teams large and small, I have been recognized for my ability to coach and mentor team members and am confident in my abilities to provide thoughtful and productive feedback and guidance to David and his senior team.
How do you aim to balance the will of board members with that of library employees and that of the public, regarding resources, pandemic precautions and the financial toll of COVID-19?
The financial strain and COVID impacts that many community members face will continue to drive important budget conversations for the library. In times of financial stress and uncertainty, like the financial crisis in 2008, the library saw increased demand for resources for job searches, work force skill development and educational attainment. I anticipate we will need to rise to that challenge again and continue to make the library a critical resource in the community. I will make well informed decisions to meet that need while balancing the costs to tax payers to deliver those services for those who need them most.
I am an effective library trustee because I listen actively to members of the community, library staff, and library leadership. I’m responsive to their questions and concerns regarding library policy and I am always learning and willing to ask questions. I continue to learn and be curious about the important work of the library and how we can contribute to important conversations in Oak Park. I will continue to challenge the ways we have done things and evolve to meet the needs of the community.