Speakers announced for PLA 2020 Conference General Sessions

For Immediate Release
Thu, 12/05/2019


Laurence Deutsch

Manager, Communications

Public Library Association (PLA)


CHICAGO — Today, the Public Library Association (PLA) has secured an outstanding slate of inspiring and entertaining speakers for the PLA 2020 Conference, taking place Feb. 25-29, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. Offered biennially, the PLA Conference is the premier event for public library professionals, drawing thousands of librarians, library support staff, trustees, friends and library vendors from across the country and around the world. The PLA 2020 Conference will also feature extraordinary educational content, distinctive networking events, opportunities to mingle with authors, and a bustling exhibit hall offering the latest in library products and services.

Stacey Abrams, an author, serial entrepreneur, nonprofit CEO, and political leader, will be the featured speaker for the conference's Opening Session on Wednesday, Feb. 26. After eleven years of service in the Georgia House of Representatives, including seven as Minority Leader, Abrams became the 2018 Democratic nominee for Governor of Georgia, where she won more votes than any other Democrat in the state’s history. After witnessing the gross mismanagement of the election by the Secretary of State's office, Abrams launched Fair Fight to ensure every Georgian has a voice in our election system. She also founded Fair Count, an organization to ensure that the 2020 Census is fair, accurate, and counts everyone. Learn more.

"Big Ideas," PLA’s version of “TED Talks,” kicks off each day with an inspiring speaker sure to challenge attendees' minds and spark their creativity. The Big Ideas Series begins on Thursday, Feb. 27, with Dr. Bettina Love, an award-winning author and associate professor of educational theory and practice at the University of Georgia. Dr. Love’s research focuses on the ways in which urban youth negotiate Hip Hop music and culture to form social, cultural, and political identities and how teachers and schools working with parents and communities can build communal, civically engaged schools rooted in intersectional social justice for the goal of equitable classrooms. Learn more.

Haben Girma, an advocate for people with disabilities and the first Deafblind person to graduate from Harvard Law School, will be the Big Ideas speaker for Friday, Feb. 28. President Obama named her a White House Champion of Change. She also received the Helen Keller Achievement Award and a spot on Forbes magazine's "30 Under 30" list. Girma travels the world teaching organizations the benefits of fully accessible products and services. Learn more.

The Big Ideas Series wraps up Saturday, Feb. 29, with award-winning journalist, entrepreneur, and television host Soledad O'Brien. As the host of the Sunday morning syndicated political show, Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien, she has established herself as one of the most recognized names in broadcasting by telling the stories behind the most important issues, people, and events of the day. A champion of diversity, O'Brien gives voice to the underserved and disenfranchised through her Emmy-winning reporting and acclaimed documentary series, Black in America and Latino in America. A prominent philanthropist, O'Brien is the founder of PowHERful, a foundation that mentors and funds college tuition and expenses for young women. Learn more.

Samantha Bee, a Canadian American comedian, writer, producer, and actress, will perform at the Closing Session on Saturday, Feb. 29. As host of her late-night show Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, she is considered one of the most unique and sharp comedic voices on television. Bee was a part of the "Best F#@king News Team" on Comedy Central's The Daily Show from 2003 to 2015, making her the show’s longest-serving regular correspondent. Bee hosted the wildly successful “Not the White House Correspondents Dinner” on April 29, 2017 (the evening of the traditional White House Correspondents Dinner), which received an Emmy Award in the category of “Outstanding Variety Special.” Learn more.

Register soon for best pricing

Deep discounts on registration fees are available to members of PLA and the Tennessee Library Association (TLA): PLA and TLA members pay only $305 per person if registered by Friday, Dec. 20. PLA/TLA nonmembers can also save by registering prior to Friday, Jan. 31. Tickets to preconference sessions and select author events are available at an additional charge. Click here for the full schedule of rates. PLA has secured room blocks at 20 downtown Nashville hotels, all within six blocks of the Music City Center. Conference registration is required in order to reserve a room in the PLA block. Housing reservations must be made prior to Friday, Jan. 31.

PLA is committed to using its conference to educate, inspire, and raise awareness. PLA 2020 will provide outstanding educational experiences for everyone and raise awareness through new and innovative learning opportunities. Click here to learn more.

About PLA
The Public Library Association (PLA) is the largest association dedicated to supporting the unique and evolving needs of public library professionals. Founded in 1944, PLA serves nearly 10,000 members in public libraries large and small in communities across the United States and Canada, with a growing presence around the world. PLA strives to help its members shape the essential institution of public libraries by serving as an indispensable ally for public library leaders. For more information about PLA, contact the PLA office at 1 (800) 545-2433, ext.5PLA, or pla@ala.org.