American Library Association Announces New Additions and Appointments to Leadership Team

For Immediate Release
Mon, 10/24/2022


Raymond Garcia

Communications Specialist

Communications & Marketing Office

CHICAGO – The American Library Association (ALA) is pleased to announce the addition and appointment of new and existing members to its leadership staff: Rebecca Headrick, Payal Patel, Julie Reese and Alena Rivers. The cohort consists of four dynamic individuals who bring a diverse set of skills and experience to the organization.

“We are incredibly lucky to have attracted new talent and identified existing talent for key ALA leadership positions,” said ALA Executive Director Tracie D. Hall. “The knowledge and experience they possess and the dedication that all four leaders exude makes me feel that ALA’s future and our membership’s collective aspirations for programs, platforms, tools, and resources that will advance the field is in the right hands.”

New to ALA, Rebecca Headrick joins the Association as its first-ever chief information technology officer. An accomplished association executive, Headrick brings two decades of experience in strategic roles aligning technology with organizational strategy. In her previous role as chief technology director for the Illinois CPA Society (ICPAS), Headrick transformed ICPAS’s technology strategy, including setting up a cloud-based infrastructure and guiding the optimization of multiple business processes, increasing staff and customer satisfaction, and member engagement.

Before joining ICPAS, Headrick held multiple technology roles with the American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology. She served on the Aptify User Community Board and is currently vice-chair of the Association Forum Information Technology Special Interest Group. Headrick earned a Master of Business Administration from North Park University and a Bachelor of Arts in Business Analysis and IT Project Management from DePaul University

Also a new addition to ALA, Payal Patel is set to serve as the interim director of the Communications and Marketing Office (CMO). Patel is a strategic communications professional, multilingual media spokesperson, and crisis management expert with more than a decade of experience in leading public relations strategies and integrated marketing campaigns. Most recently, she spearheaded the communications department and served as the chief spokesperson for Navy Pier in Chicago. Previously, Patel was the public relations director for the NFL Players Association - Chicago, where she was instrumental in developing and executing comprehensive communications plans for the 2015 NFL Draft and other events/programs facilitated by the organization’s charitable arm.

In 2020, Patel was named to the PR NEWS Top Women in PR list and internationally recognized for her work in crisis management. In 2016, she was honored at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. as part of PR NEWS’ 30 Under 30 list. Patel holds a Master of Science in Communication (Crisis Management) from Northwestern University and Bachelor of Arts in Broadcast Journalism, Public Relations and Spanish from Marquette University.

Julie Reese, director of leadership and learning at Core: Leadership, Infrastructure Futures, has been promoted to interim executive director of Core. Reese has been with ALA for 22 years, serving in the Library Leadership & Management Association (LLAMA) and the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS) prior to Core. Reese played a key role in planning the first LLAMA National Institute. During her tenure with ALCTS, she was instrumental in the creation of the division’s web courses and created ALCTS’s first virtual forum, the ALCTS Exchange.

Reese has been a leader at ALA and beyond for producing online continuing education programs. In 2020, she became deputy executive director of leadership and learning for Core, where she successfully established the Core CE program and built a suite of CE products, including webinars, web courses and classrooms, as well as virtual and in-person conferences. Most recently, Reese oversaw the development of Core’s first in-person conference, Core Forum, which was held this fall. Reese earned an ALCTS Presidential Citation in 2007 for her work on ALCTS continuing education and programs and again in 2017 for her efforts in the creation and production of the ALCTS Exchange.

Alena Rivers, with the full support of the board of directors of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), has been named executive director of ALSC. Rivers began serving as interim executive director of ALSC in September 2021, and has worked closely with ALSC’s board of directors and members to ensure ALSC’s mission, programs, and services align with strategic goals. Rivers joined ALA in 2017 as deputy director of ALSC, where she worked with ALSC staff, board, committees, and partners to support the division’s continued growth in member relations, communications, publications, continuing education, projects, grants, convenings, and symposia. Her work has included facilitating a division-wide collaboration on bystander intervention, implementation of the pilot ALSC Equity Fellowship, and execution of the pilot ALSC Research Agenda Grant. Rivers received a Master of Library and Information Science with a Certificate in Youth Services from Dominican University, where she served as a graduate assistant in the Butler Children’s Literature Center.

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The American Library Association (ALA) is the oldest and largest library association in the world. Founded on October 6, 1876 during the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, the mission of ALA is “to provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.” For more information, visit