2017 Spring Leadership Academy Roster

Leadership Fellows

Heather AcerroHeather Acerro
Head of Youth Services
Rochester Public Library
Rochester, MN

Heather Acerro, Head of Youth Services at Rochester Public Library (MN), leads her staff in building a welcoming and dynamic space for children and teens to learn, create, and connect. She has recently served on the Intellectual Freedom Committee of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) and the Rainbow Booklist Committee of the American Library Association’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, & Transgender Round Table. In 2015, her division created a BookBike program which won the Local Government Innovation Award from the University of Minnesota. She contributes to the ALSC Blog and reviews for School Library Journal.

Radha AshokRadha Ashok
Branch Manager
Gwinnett County Public Library
Lawrenceville, GA

Radha has over 15 years' experience in public libraries. She joined Gwinnett County Public Library in 2001 as a shelver. She became a librarian in 2010 and assumed increasingly senior positions leading up to her recent appointment as a branch manager. Radha has strong interests in emerging technologies, web management. and programming and outreach. Radha likes reading mystery, philosophy, and astrology books. Radha graduated with a Bachelor’s in Chemistry from Bharathidasan University, India, and a Bachelor’s in Library Science from the University of Madras. She received a Master of Library and Information Science degree from Florida State University.

Amy Babcock LandryAmy Babcock Landry
Livingston Public Library
Livingston, NJ

Amy Babcock Landry has been Director of the Livingston Public Library since 2014. In that time, she has created a three-year strategic plan, implemented 21st century library services, and strengthened community partnerships. Prior, Amy served as Director of the Woodland Park Public Library where she increased circulation by 42% in two years. She was also previously a manager of the Seward Park Branch of the New York Public Library. She is an active member of the New Jersey Library Association where she sits on the Executive Board, is a former chair of the Public Policy Committee, and is current chair of the Intellectual Freedom Committee.

Sonia BautistaSonia Bautista
Senior Librarian
City of Commerce Public Library
Commerce, CA

Sonia Bautista is the Senior Librarian at the City of Commerce Public Library. She has been working for libraries for the past 24 years. She started as a volunteer for the County of Los Angeles and there is where she found her love for libraries and knew she wanted to become a librarian. Ms. Bautista is also an adjunct professor and librarian at East Los Angeles College and an advisory board member for KCET, Los Angeles Independent TV Channel. She is also a very active member in REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking.

Jené BrownJené Brown
Associate Director – Principal Librarian, Engagement and Outreach Department
Los Angeles Public Library
Los Angeles, CA

Jené D. Brown is the Associate Director (Principal Librarian) of Community Engagement & Outreach at Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL). She oversees and directs the outreach program, volunteer services, special administrative projects, and initiatives. She also serves as chief liaison to LAPL’s 70 Friends groups. Jené, a former children’s librarian, has worked in public libraries for 19 years, and has extensive experience as a senior branch and interim regional manager. Earning an MLIS from UCLA, she holds professional memberships with ALA, BCALA, CLA, California Librarians Black Caucus. Jené is forward-thinking, success-driven and excited by the fresh opportunities offered by 21st century libraries.

Jessica CadienteJessica Cadiente
Library Director
Santa Barbara Public Library
Santa Barbara, CA

Jessica Cadiente is the Library Director for the City of Santa Barbara and is responsible for public libraries throughout Santa Barbara County, including two City libraries and seven County libraries. She manages an annual budget of $7.2 million and 120 full-time and hourly employees. Prior to her appointment with the City of Santa Barbara, Ms. Cadiente was the Library Director for the City of Lompoc. She began her library career in Arizona where she worked in a variety of roles. Ms. Cadiente received a Bachelor's degree in History from Arizona State University and a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science from San Jose State University.

Christiane Candelaria WarburtonChristiane Candelaria Warburton
Assistant Library Administrator
County of Los Angeles Public Library
Downey, CA

Chris Candelaria Warburton is an Assistant Library Administrator for the County of Los Angeles Public Library system, overseeing 17 libraries and a bookmobile for East Region. She has had the opportunity to work in a variety of capacities for public libraries over her career. Chris was an ALA Spectrum Scholar and California Library Eureka Leadership Program Fellow. In addition to an MLIS, she also holds a Master’s in Public Administration and has been known to enjoy food excursions.

Amanda CourieAmanda Courie
Youth Services Manager
Caroline County Public Library
Denton, MD

Amanda Courie has served as the Youth Services Manager at the Caroline County Public Library in Denton, MD, since 2008. Prior to earning her Masters in Library and Information Studies from Florida State University, she received her BA in Writing and Literature from Naropa University in Boulder, CO. She returned to her hometown to raise her family, and is grateful for the opportunity to create strong connections in the community she grew up in through her work at the library. She lives in Ridgely, Md. with her husband John and their two daughters, Sunyata and Leland.

Claudia DepkinClaudia Depkin
Library Director
Haverstraw King's Daughters Public Library
Garnerville, NY

Claudia Depkin is the Library Director at the Haverstraw King’s Daughters Public Library in Haverstraw, NY, a demographically-diverse community. She is also the Treasurer of the New York Library Association and is Past Chairperson of the Regents Advisory Council on Libraries. Past positions include Library Director at the Tuxedo Park Library and the Woodbury Public Library, and the Project Manager for the Archival Processing Project for the Performing Arts at the New York Public Library. She lives in the Hudson River Valley where she enjoys reading, running and family.

Ava EhdeAva Ehde
Library Services Manager
Manatee County Public Library System
Bradenton, FL

Ava Ehde is thriving as the Library Services Manager for the Manatee County Public Library System, which in 2016 was named Library of the Year by the Florida Library Association (FLA) while garnering additional awards for teen programming and for innovation. Ava succeeds in modernizing and pushing the boundaries of library service and challenging her staff to do the same.  She currently serves as the President of the Tampa Bay Library Consortium Board and is active in FLA.  Personally, her love of adventure has taken her from zip lining in Costa Rica to whale-watching in Nova Scotia. 

Cindy FesemyerCindy Fesemyer
Library Director
Columbus Public Library
Columbus, WI

My professional life is devoted to rabble rousing for equal access to tools of political, social and economic wellbeing for all people. Following 14 years in nonprofit administration and management, I left it all behind for library school. Upon graduation from UW-Madison SLIS in 2012, I accepted the position of Library Director at the Columbus Public Library in Wisconsin. Turns out community engagement and social change are much more fun and effective as a public librarian than as a nonprofit administrator.

Renee GrassiRenee Grassi
Youth Services Manager
Dakota County Library
Glen Ellyn, IL

Renee Grassi is the Youth Services Manager of Dakota County Library in Minnesota. Renee has nearly ten years of experience working in public libraries, and is a graduate of Dominican University’s Library and Information Science Graduate Program.  Her passion is serving children and families, as well as issues of diversity and inclusion in libraries.  She was named a 2012 Library Journal Mover and Shaker for developing new services for families with children with disabilities, and has presented nationally on this topic. She considers herself an advocate for social justice and works to make libraries inclusive for all.

Sonia GustafsonSonia Gustafson
Managing Librarian
Lake Stevens Library, Sno-Isle Libraries
Lake Stevens, WA

Sonia has been a librarian for 10 years and started her career as a children’s librarian with the Spokane County Library District.  In 2012, she was selected to coordinate their strategic planning effort and the following year became the managing librarian of the Spokane Valley branch. In 2015, she joined Sno-Isle Libraries as the managing librarian of the Lake Stevens Library.  She holds a BA in Anthropology from the College of Wooster and a MLIS from the University of Washington-Seattle. 

Anne KemmerlingAnne Kemmerling
Manger of Innovation and Strategy
Denver Public Library
Denver, CO

Anne Kemmerling has worked for the Denver Public Library for just over 10 years in different branches and roles—youth programming, reference librarian, branch manager and in her current role as Manager of Innovation and Strategy. A couple years into her professional career she pursued and completed her MBA from the University of Colorado. She believes in a strong sense of community and is constantly pursuing connections and relationships for the library to thrive and be valued in the Denver community.  In her free time, Anne enjoys yoga, exploring new restaurants, and travel.

Benjamin LathropBenjamin Lathrop
Information & Reference Department Manager
Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County
Cincinnati, OH

Ben Lathrop is the Information & Reference Department Manager for the Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County. Ben is a graduate of the University of Iowa School of Library and Information Science and has an educational background in background fine art and film theory and criticism. Ben has worked in several library locations around the greater Cincinnati area and has served as past chair of the Ohio Library Council’s Intellectual Freedom Committee. His current focus is adapting new technologies to customer focused reference service, stimulating workforce development and promoting lifelong learning.

Gabriel LundeenGabriel Lundeen
Deputy Director
Chattahoochee Valley Libraries
Columbus, GA

Gabriel Lundeen has been Deputy Director of Chattahoochee Valley Libraries since 2012. In addition to overseeing public service to CVL's seven branches and two bookmobiles, he is passionate about technology and libraries and how they can create community. Gabriel is responsible for all public technology initiatives at the Libraries including STEAM-based programming, makerspaces, hackathons, and our new grant-funded circulating STEAM kits. He has worked in public libraries for a total of 14 years, including libraries in Atlanta as well as Los Angeles and Simi Valley, CA.

Susan LyonSusan Lyon
Learning Engagement Manager
Richland Library
Columbia, SC

Susan Lyon is the Learning Engagement Manager of the Richland Library in Columbia, SC. where she is involved in many facets of learning and instruction for both customers and staff. Susan is passionate about creating meaningful and compassionate experiences for her community. She Tweets at @Liblyon.

Lisa MulvennaLisa Mulvenna
Head of Youth/YA Services
Clinton-Macomb Public Library
Clinton Township, MI

Lisa Mulvenna serves as the Head of Youth/YA Services at the Clinton-Macomb Public Library.  Lisa has 15+ years of presenting highly energetic story time and early literacy programming. As a manager, she now works with staff to develop new services, programs, and outreach for ages 0–18 and their families. Lisa was the recipient of the 2012 Pletz Award for Excellence in Service to Youth, given by the Michigan Library Association.

Sara MurraySara Murray
Assistant Director
Algonquin Area Public Library District
Algonquin, IL

Over 20 years ago, I started working in a public library as a page. It was meant to be a summer job while I earned a degree in sports medicine. Instead, it was the first step on my career path. I was already a library lover, so my library pulled me in, let me work in different departments and on the bookmobile, and encouraged me to attend library school. I earned my MLIS in 2002, was hired as a Youth Services Librarian, and am now the Assistant Director at the Algonquin Area Public Library.

Anne RasmussenAnne Rasmussen
Customer Experience Manager
Kenosha Public Library
Kenosha, WI

Anne's role at the Kenosha Public Library in Kenosha, WI, is two-fold. She manages all public service functions including Outreach, Youth Services, Adult and Digital Services, and Circulation Departments. She is also responsible for ensuring continuous improvements in patrons' experiences in our four branches, the bookmobile, and anywhere in the community that our services and programs are enjoyed. Anne has experience working in public, academic, K–12, and special library settings. Partnering with community businesses, governmental agencies, and not-for-profits to create experiences and opportunities never before imagined is Anne's library passion.

Rachael RiesRachael Ries
Branch Manager
Fort Vancouver Regional Library Washougal Community Library
Washougal, WA

Rachael Ries has worked as the Branch Manager of the Washougal Community Library since December 2015. Prior to this position, Rachael served as a Reference Librarian, Supervisor and Library Assistant all within the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District. Rachael is passionate about working with youth and making the library a focal point in the community. She holds a Master’s of Library and Information Science degree from the University of Washington and Bachelor’s in Sociology degree from Western Washington University. Rachael is currently involved with helping build a new library in her community.

Dara SchmidtDara Schmidt
Cedar Rapids Public Library
Cedar Rapids, IA

Dara Hanke Schmidt worked for the City of Downey and Los Angeles County Public Libraries in California before taking a job as a librarian generalist for the then Rangeview Library District in Colorado.  As Rangeview transitioned to Anythink, she served as a Teen Guide and later Branch Manager.  Schmidt came home to Iowa for her dream job as the director of the Cedar Rapids Public Library in 2014.  She has a BA from Baldwin-Wallace College, a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California, and an MLIS from San Jose State University.

Kelly StadeKelly Stade
Library Services Manager
Hennepin County Library
Minnetonka, MN

Kelly Stade is a Library Services Manager at Hennepin County Library in Minnesota.  Her background includes ten years of experience in public libraries, working to fulfill the mission of the library in the communities it serves. Current work includes leading a region of libraries and managing library initiatives that build welcoming environments and extend Hennepin County Library services to underserved communities. She was a 2014 ALA Emerging Leader and a 2012 participant of the Minnesota Library Association Institute of Leadership Excellence program.

Charles SuttonCharles Sutton
Library Experiences Manager
Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library
Evansville, IN

Charles Sutton is the Library Experiences Manager at Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library. Through his professional and personal work, he is committed to creating systemic and lasting change. His interests include early and emergent literacy, critical making, and maker education. Charles is a thinker and a tinkerer. The following quote from Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man sums it up best: “Call me, since I have a theory and a concept, a 'thinker-tinker.'” In 2015, Charles spoke at TEDx Evansville on the topic Maker Education: Empowering individuals to make a better world.

Erika ThibaultErika Thibault
Principal Librarian
Los Angeles Public Library—Western Area Office
Los Angeles, CA

Erika Thibault has been a librarian for 11 years, working in library systems throughout the Los Angeles region, including the County of Los Angeles Public Library, the Monterey Park Bruggemeyer Library, and the Los Angeles Public Library, where she has served for the last 9 years. Ms. Thibault was recently promoted to Western Area Manager, coordinating programs and services for 12 branches in the Los Angeles Public Library system. She lives in Glendale, CA, with her husband, two children, and a Frisbee-fetching dog. She enjoys gardening, cooking, and planning her next adventure.

Janet TorsneyJanet Torsney
Bradley Beach Public Library
Bradley Beach, NJ

I have been director of this small independent library at the Jersey shore since 2011. I am also a member of the Board of Trustees of the Asbury Park Public Library. Previously, I was a children's librarian and worked on special projects at the Caldwell, Summit and Montclair public libraries. I earned my MLS from Rutgers University in 2008. Prior to becoming a librarian, I worked in communications for leading nonprofits including Save the Children, the United Negro College Fund, Casey Family Services, the United Nations Association and the International Rescue Committee.

Joy WhatleyJoy Whatley
Branch Manager
Chula Vista Public Library
Chula Vista, CA

Joy Whatley is the Branch Manager of the Otay Ranch branch of the Chula Vista Public Library in Chula Vista, CA.  With over 19 years of service to the Chula Vista Public Library, Whatley is a certified passport agent through the U.S. Department of State and a Mental Health First Aid Instructor with the National Council for Behavioral Sciences.  With a passion for learning, Whatley recently completed a Master’s in Business Administration and graduated from the Harwood Public Innovator’s Lab.  As a member of California Library Association, Whatley recently presented at the state conference on successful interviewing strategies and skills. 

Roxie WrightRoxie Wright
Bella Vista Public Library
Bella Vista, AR

Roxie Wright is director of Bella Vista Public Library, located in the beautiful Ozark Mountains of northwest Arkansas. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Management from the University of Arkansas at Monticello in 1995 and was a library branch manager in southeast Arkansas for several years. After earning her MLIS from Florida State University in 2014, she was immediately hired for her dream job at Bella Vista Public Library, which is now experiencing exponential growth!