Mary Davis Fournier named PLA executive director

For Immediate Release
Fri, 05/14/2021


Stephanie Hlywak


Communications and Marketing Office

American Library Association

CHICAGO — The American Library Association (ALA) announced today the appointment of Mary Davis Fournier as executive director, Public Library Association (PLA), a division of ALA. Her first day in her new role will be Monday, June 14.

Fournier is a 20-year veteran of ALA, having served in various roles including, most recently deputy director of the Public Programs Office. At ALA, she spearheaded dozens of groundbreaking projects that have paved the way for innovation in the library field, including Libraries Transforming Communities and the National Impact of Library Public Programs Assessment (NILPPA), Building Common Ground: Discussions of Community, Civility and Compassion, and the first “One Book” resource, Planning Your Community-Wide Read. She is the co-editor of Act, Listen, Empower: Grounding Your Library Work in Community Engagement (ALA Editions, 2020), which documents the field’s transformational shift toward library-led community engagement.

Her work, which has illuminated and leveraged the unparalleled power of libraries to support the most vulnerable and in-need populations through excellence in programming and community engagement, has been supported by a range of national partners including the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Fetzer Institute, the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation, among others.

Prior to ALA, Fournier worked in neighborhood development, as program director at the Near South Planning Board (Chicago), directing the Printers Row Lit Fest and authors-in-the-schools programs, and in higher education as Programming Associate at Miami-Dade College’s Miami Book Fair International (Florida). Active in the Chicago arts and philanthropic community, Fournier is a past co-chair of Chicago Women in Philanthropy. She is a Certified Association Executive and holds a M.Ed. in Educational Policy Studies from the University of Illinois at Champaign – Urbana, and a B.A. in History and English Literature from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. 

“We are delighted that after a nationwide search we found our next leader so close to home,” said Michelle Jeske, president of PLA. “Mary’s reputation in the library field is stellar, and her innovative work with public libraries and public library professionals through ALA’s Public Programs Office has prepared her well to lead PLA into its next era. We are in very capable hands.”

Tracie D. Hall, ALA executive director, added, “I’ve had the pleasure of working with and knowing Mary for almost two decades. She has dedicated her career to helping libraries serve their communities. Her appointment comes at a critical time in the evolution of public library services as practice continues to shift to respond to pandemic and post-pandemic user needs and information seeking behavior. Mary’s long track record of developing fruitful institutional partnerships, incubating new programs, and scaling impact are well matched for the task at hand. Her commitment, as well, to the values of the library profession, and the relationships she has built with public library staff nationwide through the Public Programs Office, ideally suit her for this role. I’m excited to work with her to propel ALA and PLA forward.”

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.