For immediate release | November 15, 2011

Champion Connections empower diverse voices

CHICAGO - The most successful careers are built on the help and support of generous colleagues — peers who collaborate and support growth, mentors who help develop specific skills and champions who recommend and advocate involvement at the next levels of leadership. As part of 2011-2012 ALA President Molly Raphael’s diversity leadership initiative, “Empowering Diverse Voices,” the American Library Association will host a special event, Champion Connections, at the 2012 ALA Midwinter Meeting.

“My own champion story starts with my work with Julie Todaro in the Texas Library Association,” said Mary Jo Venetis, co-lead for the Champion Connections project. “Julie became my champion when she advocated for my participation at the next level of leadership in 2009-2010 ALA President Camila Alire’s Family Literacy Focus Presidential Initiative. With that single recommendation, Julie set me on a new path to leadership within the association.”

Champion Connections is scheduled for 1:30 - 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012. This special event will provide selected new and emerging leaders with an opportunity to meet with established leaders within the American Library Association, its divisions, round tables and affiliates. By providing a forum to meet, new and emerging leaders can share their interests, experiences and goals with the intent of finding an established leader who will become interested in championing and promoting their involvement at higher levels within the association.

“One can never have too many champions,” said co-lead for the Champion Connections project, Rose Dawson. “As a person of color, having advocates such as Molly Raphael and the late Effie Lee Morris providing guidance was invaluable. They played an important role in bringing my skills and talents to the larger library arena. Having an advocate is a real must.”

The American Library Association is now accepting applications from new and emerging leaders interested in participating in Champion Connections. An online application is available at In order to make this event manageable and meaningful, participants will be selected based on their involvement in the American Library Association, its divisions, round tables and affiliates and their interest in attaining new levels of leadership. Applications are due by Dec. 1 and selected individuals will be notified by Dec. 16, 2011.

“Empowering Diverse Voices” is an initiative of 2011-2012 ALA President Molly Raphael and will feature several elements designed to enhance the leadership development opportunities available to ALA members and specifically seeks to provide opportunities to diverse members of the Association. To learn more about “Empowering Diverse Voices,” please visit