Alumni and Student Named 2024 ALA Emerging Leaders


Three alumni and one current student from the San José State University School of Information have been selected as part of the American Library Association’s 2024 Class of Emerging Leaders. Dominique Dozier, Jillian Underwood-Jenkins, Ariana Varela, and Mia Gittlen are part of a class of 50 individuals from across the United States and Canada.

The Emerging Leaders program is for new library professionals and gives them the opportunity to “participate in problem-solving work groups, network with peers, gain an inside look into ALA structure, and have an opportunity to serve the profession in a leadership capacity.”

Dozier believes part of being part of the Emerging Leaders will “further refine my leadership skills, collaborate with fellow LIS professionals, and contribute my unique background and perspective to the project.” The 2021 graduate currently serves as a student success librarian at the Santa Clara University Library. Her focus is on Women and Gender Studies and Ethnic Studies at the university. Dozier states that her courses in the Master of Library and Information Science program prepared her for her career. “The best thing that I have learned from my time in the SJSU iSchool program is the necessary skill of adapting to the dynamic needs of both the library and to its patrons.”

Gittlen is a current student in the MLIS program and says she still has a lot to learn, “but I also have a lot to contribute.” Her goal as an Emerging Leader is connect and collaborate with other librarians and grow her “professional library network.” She believes that being part of the Emerging Leaders program is “being a part of this amazing librarian cohort – to learn, to share, to collaborate, to be in community, and to co-create resources for libraries that will benefit our patrons and our communities.” Gittlen is set to graduate with her master’s degree in May 2024. She plans to continue her involvement in several organizations, including the Bay Area Independent School Librarians network and the California School Library Association.

Jillian Underwood-Jenkins, ’22 MLIS, echoes Gittlen’s sentiments about collaborating with others as an Emerging Leader and adds that “it feels wonderful to be recognized for my hard work.” As a current teen librarian for the City of Oceanside, she believes that the program will provide “new ways to lead and mentor.” Underwood-Jenkins considers her time in the MLIS program to be “the best decision I ever made.” Underwood-Jenkins adds that “the range of where librarians make an impact is wide, and taking advantage of everything the program had to offer gave me insight into corners of the profession I never knew existed” and has contributed to where she is today.

The 2024 Emerging Leaders will gather to commence their project planning work at the American Library Association’s LibLearnX event happening in January. The program will last for six months with a culminating poster session held during the ALA Annual Conference in June.