Library Journal Directors' Summit

Registration is Open for Library Journal’s

Supporting a Resilient Workforce

In-Person, December 1 & 2 at the Enoch Pratt Free Library


The past few years have brought unprecedented challenges to libraries and librarians, and the end seems nowhere in sight. From COVID to book bans and politically fueled personal attacks on librarians, creating and fostering a resilient workplace in the library is a daunting objective. 


This high-level, two-day Summit will seek to address successful and actionable approaches to addressing many of the largest challenges facing libraries today and in the foreseeable future. 

  • Gena Cox will kick off day one with a fireside chat on how to build inclusion into everyday leadership so employees can see and feel the change.  

  • Advocates at the national, state, and local level will share how to tackle the book ban epidemic and get your board on your side. 

  • Facilitated conversations will activate the expertise of the full community of library leaders

  • ‘Learn Local’ breakout sessions provide focused, actionable takeaways on how to replicate and adapt innovative programs and services piloted in the surrounding region. 

  • Peer leaders will discuss how recent events are impacting staff perspective and satisfaction and will describe ways to make workplaces more flexible and supportive in order to recruit, retain, and grow your people power - a library’s greatest asset. 

  • Hear how libraries large and small are taking the lead on digital equity to better serve their most underserved community members, 

  • And much more….


The Directors' Summit invites public library directors, executive or deputy directors to join us for a day of engaging and interactive thought leadership and networking. If you work in a different type of library and/or are in a leadership position with a different title and would like to request an invitation, please email us at, with “Directors’ Summit” in the subject line, and describe your library setting and role.  LJ will consider and respond to your request. 


Register Today! 



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Dr. Gena Cox is an organizational psychologist and executive coach. At IBM and Perceptyx, Gena advised leaders in the Fortune 500 and large global companies on optimizing their leadership impact to build engaging organizational cultures that drive business outcomes. Gena is the co-chair of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology's Awards Committee and is on the Society's 2022 Leading Edge Consortium planning committee. Gena is on the boards of the University of South Florida Stavros Center for Free Enterprise & Economic Education and the University of Tampa TECO Center for Leadership in the Sykes College of Business. Gena holds a PhD in Industrial and Organizational Psychology and the Professional Certified Coach designation from the International Coach Federation.




Sonia Alcántara-Antoine is the CEO of Baltimore County Public Library (MD), overseeing 19 branches, 600 dedicated staff, and a budget of $45 million. Prior to joining Baltimore County Public Library, she was director of Newport News Public Library (VA) and held leadership positions at Virginia Beach Public Library (VA) and Enoch Pratt Free Library (MD). She is the president-elect of the Public Library Association and is on the board of the Maryland Association of Public Library Administrators. Sonia is proud to be an American Library Association Spectrum Scholar and holds a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science from Florida State University and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Old Dominion University. Sonia is a renowned speaker and thought leader on the art and science of library leadership, actively shaping the profession for today and tomorrow.



Michael Blackwell is Director of the St. Mary’s County Library (MD). He serves as co-chair of the ALA CORE Architecture for Public Libraries Committee, is a Director-at-Large for the ALA Intellectual Freedom Round Table, and is past Chair of the ALA Ebooks Interest Group and a long-time member of the ALA Joint Digital Content Working Group.  He has a special interest in library digital content and has been advocating for improving the library digital reading experience for over a decade, often presenting at conferences and writing articles.  He is the Project Manager for the ReadersFirst Working Group and regularly blogs at



Nicholas Alexander Brown is a Honduran-American library executive and musician based in Maryland, where he currently serves as Chief Operating Officer for Communication and Outreach at the Prince George's County Memorial Library System (Largo, MD). He is the recipient of the 2021 Library Journal Marketer of the Year Award and was a Library Journal Mover & Shaker in 2019. Nicholas is also adjunct faculty for the Department of Library and Information Science at Catholic University and music director/founder of The Irving Fine Society. He previously worked as director of special productions and initiatives at Washington Performing Arts, program specialist for the Office of the Librarian/Office of Special Events & Public Programs at Library of Congress, music specialist/concert producer at Library of Congress, and army bandsman with the 215th Army Band. His writing has appeared in Library Journal, The Horn Book, and HuffPost Blog.


Donna Bruce is a Social Activist and 25-year survivor of Trauma, including Drug Addiction, Human Trafficking, Rape and Physical Abuse. Overcoming her struggles in life, she gained the courage and steadfastness to obtain her certification as a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist, Certified Peer Specialist with a specialization in Family, and a Registered Peer Supervisor Maryland Addiction and Behavioral-Health Professionals Certification Board. She has volunteered at local treatment centers such as Harbel, Penn -North, Dee’s Place, and Enoch Pratt Library where she helped provide care and resources through her own lived experiences and various training for those seeking recovery. Through that opportunity she is now a Full time Employee. 

She has also supported several women who participated in the self -help group Narcotics Anonymous who were able to maintain a healthy lifestyle through her guidance of the 12 steps. She co-facilitated Celebrate Recovery at her local church. She practices her continuous healing through participation in the ABC Dance Ministry of her Church, while performing for various local churches and secular events such as Healing City Baltimore Summit, Forest Park Senior Citizens Women’s Programs and Helping Up Mission For Women and Children. She participated with the first U.S City to legislate trauma informed care with passage of the Elijah Cummings Healing City Act and serves on The Trauma Informed Taskforce of Baltimore City, she also serves on the Steering Committee for Healing City Baltimore. She graduated from the first Virtual Class of Ropers Victim Assistance Academy where she learned broad spectrums of advocacy training to support crime victims. She is certified in Emotional CPR (eCPR)and Mental Health CPR. She spearheaded the Destiny’s Dream Scholarship and is an active supporter of Human Trafficking where she serves as secretarty on the board for The Maryland Survivors Network. She has testified on the House Bill 782 and Senate Bill 206 – True Freedom Act of 2020. The bill was passed in 2020, and now victims of Human Trafficking can have their criminal records vacated and experience the true freedom in rebuilding their lives. She has also participated in Governor Hogan’s 2019 House Bill 827 signing which allow sex trafficking children to receive screening services if they are arrested for trafficking and not be placed in jail but get the help that is needed to help them heal from trauma.

She speaks throughout Maryland fighting for Social Justices and is featured on many platforms. She has spoken for the Free to BMORE Podcast of the Enoch Pratt Library, Zeta Phi Beta Event “Love Doesn’t Hurt,” Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated-Psi Epsilon Omega Chapter Event “Where Do We Go From Here? Stop Human Trafficking.” Araminta Freedom Initiative Fair Girls, UMD Safe Center “From Tragedy to Triumph.”





 Lauren Comito is a cape-wearing, ukulele-playing, sword-swinging, activist librarian in NYC. She is currently a Neighborhood Library Supervisor at Brooklyn Public Library (NY) and Executive Director of Urban Librarians Unite, a national c3 not for profit focusing on providing training, advocacy, and support for front-line library staff working in large urban systems. She is passionate about connecting library patrons to the services they need and a true believer in the ability of the library to change people’s lives and communities for the better.



Angela Craig has been Executive Director of the Charleston County Public Library (SC) since April 2019. Angela started with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library (NC) in 2005. While adept at working with all populations, Angela has specialized in increasing library access to vulnerable populations and underserved communities. In 2013, she published Serving At-Risk Teens: Proven Strategies and Programs for Bridging the Gap (Neal-Schuman), culminating in a visit to South Korea as their keynote speaker for the International Youth Symposium in 2015. She is an ALA Councilor-at-Large and holds a Master’s Degree of Library and Information Science from the University of South Carolina and a Bachelor’s Degree from Texas State University.



Anita Crawford started her work in libraries as a shelver when she was sixteen and since has grown into the kind and empathic leader she is today. Her eighteen years in public libraries in both the circulation and Technical Services Department has given her a unique perspective and a solid foundation to lead her Technical Services Processing Department team. She is an active participant in the Maryland Library Association, where she connects with library leaders and support staff throughout Maryland. She is passionate about the topic of leadership development, emotions/feelings at work, and improving communication. She is currently a proud non-degreed library support staff worker who has recently decided to enroll in University of Maryland Global Campus to complete her degree in Human Resources Management.


Nichelle M. Hayes MPA, MLS, is President of the BCALA and currently serves as the Interim CEO of the Indianapolis Public Library.  Nichelle is an Information Professional with a focus on the African Diaspora, Community Engagement and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access (DEIA). Nichelle recently was awarded the Breakthrough Women Award by the National Council of Negro Women. She's been recognized as a Library Journal Movers and Shakers 2020 - Advocate, awarded an Achievement in Arts and Entertainment by the Center of Leadership Development (2020) as well as the Helen L. Norris Distinguished Service Award by Indianapolis Public Library (2021). She is also an inaugural cohort member for Marvelous Potential Kennedy King Memorial Initiative Leadership Program (2021-2022). Nichelle is a Civic Leader, Lifelong Learner, lover of Poetry and a blogger at focussing on Genealogy, Family History and The Ties that Bind Families Together.



Alan S. Inouye is senior director of public policy and government relations and interim associate executive director for the American Library Association. Previously, he was a coordinator of the President’s Council of Advisors of Science and Technology in the Executive Office of the President and a study director at the National Academy of Sciences. Alan completed his Ph.D. in Library and Information Studies at the University of California at Berkeley. Early in his career, he was an engineer and manager in Silicon Valley.



Stephen Jackson is a mental health counselor and restorative justice practitioner with over 10 years of experience. Stephen entered the library world in 2016 at Oak Park Public Library (IL) where he aided the integration of social services into public libraries. In August of 2019, he transitioned into the newly formed Teen Services department as the Teen Services Coordinator, where he was responsible for bolstering programming and service offerings to the teen population. He currently serves as Director of Equity and Anti-Racism, where his focus is on strategizing and implementing infrastructure changes to make the organization a place that is equitable and restorative in its policies and practices. Stephen is also the founder and principal consultant of Global Community Associates, a consulting agency that provides professional development, training, coaching, and consulting to agencies, organizations, and communities looking to implement restorative practices.


Will Johnson Jr. is the manager of Outreach and Mobile Services for the Enoch Pratt Free Library. He is a 2001 American Library Association Spectrum Scholar recipient and 2008 Emerging Leader.



Brenda Johnson-Perkins is the Executive Secretary for BCALA and a Community Engagement Administrator at Baltimore County Public Library (MD) where she oversees the Social Worker in the Library program. She has a passion for community outreach and promoting equitable services to underserved groups. She received an MA Degree in Black Comparative Literature from the University of Maryland-Baltimore County and a MLIS from the University of Maryland-College Park. She is a 2015 Spectrum Scholar, a graduate of the Maryland Leadership Institute and a 2021 Library Journal Mover and Shaker.


Theri Ray is the director of the Public Library of Enid and Garfield County in Enid, Oklahoma and came to librarianship from a background in mental health and education.  Theri earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Illinois in 2002.  She spent more than 10 years as a behavioral interventionist and educator in a youth residential treatment facility before moving to Oklahoma. In Oklahoma, she continued to work with middle school students at a Title 1 school as a rehabilitative disciplinarian, interim library media specialist, and STEAM teacher.  Theri completed her Master of Library and Information Services from the University of Oklahoma in 2021, while serving as the teen librarian at the public library in Enid.



Richard Reyes-Gavilan was appointed Executive Director of the DC Public Library in March 2014, having previously worked for almost twenty years in leadership positions at the New York Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library (NY). Richard has overseen an ambitious capital construction program in Washington D.C. centering around the successful $211 million modernization of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, which first opened in 1972. The renovated library, which in 2021 was awarded the prestigious Richard H. Driehaus Foundation National Preservation Award, cautiously reopened in September 2020 and serves as an inspirational destination for reading, culture, civic empowerment, and local history. Mr. Reyes-Gavilan continues to aggressively build, renovate, and plan for new neighborhood libraries all over the District of Columbia. Plans for future library construction are guided by Next Libris, a 2020 facilities plan spearheaded by Richard that focuses on equitable distribution of library spaces across the city.


Sara Slymon was recently appointed Library Director of the Thomas Crane Public Library (Quincy, MA) and has spent her entire career, 29 years, working in various capacities in both public and corporate libraries. She was most recently Director of the Public Library of Brookline (MA) and previously served in the same role at Turner Free Library (Randolph, MA), one of the first public libraries in Massachusetts. She has also worked as an Assistant Director at the Thayer Public Library in Braintree. Sara has overseen extensive renovations such as a $17 million new facility construction of Mattapan Branch of Boston Public Library as well as major renovations at Brookline's Coolidge Corner Branch Library and sourced $2.5million in funding for the renovation of the Turner Free Library. Having attended and completed many leadership seminars, trainings, and symposia Sara aspires to lead with empathy and generosity of spirit.




Lo Smith joined the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) team in January 2022 following work in libraries in the greater Baltimore area. They entered the field of digital equity after experiencing the impacts of the digital divide in their own community. Prior to joining NDIA, they served as the coordinator of digital equity at the Enoch Pratt Free Library (Baltimore, MD), where they also served as a technology exchange fellow in 2018. During their time with the Pratt library, Lo piloted a variety of outreach and community-based digital inclusion programming, as well as examining the ways unexpected barriers impacted digital access and literacy. Lo graduated from Simmons University with a Master’s of library science in 2019. Offline, they can be found strengthening their fearlessness, teamwork, and communication skills in the partner acrobatics and circus community.

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