Reflections: Steering Committee Chaired by Dr. Carla Hayden charts a course

As part of Spectrum's 20th Anniversary, we are sharing reflections on our history.  This piece celebrating the visionaries who stewarded the creation of the program has been compiled from the files of ALA's then Office for Diversity, with help from a timeline created to accompany a longitudinal study undertaken by Loriene Roy, Glendora Johnson-Cooper, Cynthia Tysick, and Daisy Waters, “Bridging Boundaries to Create a New Workforce: A Survey of Spectrum Scholarship Recipients, 1998-2003.  Community members with historical information about the Spectrum Initiative and Scholars interested in sharing reflective pieces in honor of the Anniversary are invited to contact us at

 Steering Committee Chaired by Dr. Carla D. Hayden including Khafre K. Abif, Mengxiong Liu, Sandra Ríos Balderrama, Virginia M. McCurdy, Loriene Roy, Pamela G. Spencer, James F. Williams, II., and Kenneth A. Yamashita

Under ALA President Barbara Ford, Spectrum Steering Committee members are appointed in the Summer of 1997. The Steering Committee is Chaired by Dr. Carla D. Hayden and includes Khafre K. Abif, Mengxiong Liu, Sandra Ríos Balderrama, Virginia M. McCurdy, Loriene Roy, Pamela G. Spencer, James F. Williams, II., and Kenneth A. Yamashita.

The Spectrum Steering Committee meets for the first time in Chicago on September 22-23, 1997 (photo above includes from L to R:  Ken Yamashita, Sandra Ríos Balderrama, Carla Hayden, Pam Spencer, Virginia McCurdy, and Khafre Abif) with ALA Staff Liaison Lillian Lewis.

At their first meeting, the Steering Committee identifies subcommittees to assist with planning for the future.  They are the Awards Committee chaired by Sarah A. Long; the Library School Committee chaired by Kathleen de la Peña McCook; and the Recruitment Committee chaired by Florence Brown.

The first deadline for applications for the inaugural 1998 Spectrum Scholarships is April 1, 1998.  The first Scholarship Jury chaired by Jordan Scepanski includes Caroline Coughlin, Wayne Crocker, Hiram Davis, Barbara Fields, Joan Howland, Charlotte Kim, Maria Kramer, Lisa Mitten, Raymond Santiago, and Patricia "Patty" Wong.  The 1998-1999 Spectrum Scholars are announced on June 1, 1998.

That Fall, the Steering Committee revises its subcommittees to focus on Institute Planning, Library Schools, Recruitment, and the Scholarship Jury. Planning for the 1999 inaugural Spectrum Leadership Institute also begins, the planning committee is chaired by R.I. Mutope A-Alkebu-Lan and includes Jose Aponte, Johnnie Love, Thura Mack, K.G. Ouye, Loriene Roy, Gloria Rhodes, C. Denise Stephens, Laura Turner, and Itibari M. Zulu. In the first report to the Steering Committee, Chair Mutope A-Alkebu-Lan writes that, "the focus of the core curriculum will be to develop an educational opportunity for scholars that provides practical instruction; tools and methods for survival; collegial bonding; and opportunities for mentoring and networking with leaders and peers.  In short, we are attempting to create a forum for a frank discussion of the needs of people of color and to have a culturally-diverse orientation for our leadership strategies".

The Recruitment Subcommittee chaired by Florence Brown also begins planning for a training series to be held at the June 1999 ALA Annual Conference.  The committee-including Camila Alire, Yvonne Chen, George Grant, Marianne Hartzell, Kathleen de la Peña McCook, Lotsee Patterson, Gregory Reese, Joel Robinson, Soo Young Soo, and Elaine Walstedter--develops recruitment materials over the next year. The first Spectrum posters and brochures are included in the Fall 1998 ALA Graphics catalog.

In November of 1998, Sandra Ríos Balderrama is hired as ALA's first Diversity Officer.  Diana Morales takes her place on the Spectrum Steering Committee.  Under Kathleen de la Peña McCook's leadership during Spectrum's first year, a number of library schools commit to providing additional financial support to Spectrum Scholars in their programs, including: University at Buffalo, SUNY; University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; University of Oklahoma; Catholic University of America; Indiana University; Syracuse University; University of Wisconsin-Madison; University of California-Los Angeles; University of Illinois; Drexel University; University of South Florida; Florida State University; and University of Missouri-Columbia. Welcome receptions for Spectrum Scholars are held at San Jose State University and the University of Maryland.

Dr. Hayden sets the course for the modern day Spectrum Scholarship Program by working to ensure that the Spectrum Initiative includes activities across the Association and throughout the profession.  ALA Chapters are asked to participate, and many immediately become involved. The Texas Library Association establishes a $2,000 matching Spectrum award in 1997 which now exists as a fully sponsored TLA Spectrum Scholarship.  The Michigan Library Association, the Illinois Library Association, and the Iowa Library Association all contribute funds in 1998. The Reference & User Services Association (RUSA) becomes the first ALA Division to pledge support by establishing an internship in 1998 for Spectrum Scholars to shadow their Executive Board; Barbara Joy Taber is selected as the 1998 RUSA Intern and the internship continues to this day.

In the Spring of 1999, Dr. Betty Turock chairs the second Spectrum Jury and prepares to award the second cohort of Spectrum Scholars for 1999-2000. President-Elect Sarah A. Long establishes a Presidential Advisory Task Force to guide Spectrum fundraising, and invites Dr. Turock to lead it.

Learn more about Spectrum’s 20th Anniversary: A Celebration of Community or read more Spectrum News!