SJSU School of Information Alumnae and Students Emerge as Leaders in ALA Program


Seven standout alumnae and graduate students from the School of Information at San José State University will participate in the American Library Association’s 2016 Emerging Leaders program.

The American Library Association (ALA) recently announced the 2016 class of Emerging Leaders who will participate in the group’s leadership development program, and seven standout alumni and graduate students from the San José State University (SJSU) School of Information (iSchool) were on the list. One of the leaders is an alumna of the SJSU iSchool’s Post-Master’s Certificate in Library and Information Science program, three are alumnae of the award-winning Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree program, and three are current MLIS students.

According to the ALA press release, participation in the Emerging Leaders program includes project planning and networking, and gives up-and-coming librarians a chance “to serve the profession in a leadership capacity early in their careers.” Alexia Hudson Ward, co-chair of the Emerging Leaders working group, explained that “[the ALA’s] long standing commitment to leadership development has resulted in an amazing talent pipeline, in which we continuously source for leadership opportunities at every level with ALA.”

Each year, up to 50 information professionals are chosen for the Emerging Leaders program, and this year nearly 75 percent of the selected leaders received sponsorships, which help cover the costs of attending the ALA Midwinter Conference in January and the ALA Annual Conference in June.

The Emerging Leaders program will be enriched with the professional expertise of several SJSU iSchool alumnae. Harriet Wintermute, a 2014 alumna of the Post-Master’s Certificate program, was sponsored for the leadership development program by the Nebraska Library Association, and is currently working as a cataloging and metadata librarian at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Graduates of the SJSU iSchool’s MLIS program who were selected for the Emerging Leaders program include Melissa Stoner, who was sponsored by the Library and Information Technology Association (LITA). Stoner earned her master’s degree in 2014 and is currently working as a project specialist in the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Library special collections. Tiffany Davis, a 2011 MLIS alumna, was sponsored for the Emerging Leaders program by the Black Caucus of the ALA. Davis is branch manager for the St. Louis Public Library.

Joining her fellow MLIS alumnae, children’s librarian Meredith Steiner (MLIS 2013) was sponsored by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC). She currently works for the San Francisco Public Library. In an ALSC press release, Steiner explained the values that drive her leadership efforts. “As a youth services librarian I am committed to creating positive change in librarianship,” she stated, “that includes addressing issues of diversity in the field, in libraries, and in literature.”

Current SJSU iSchool student Kayla Figard, whose participation in the program was sponsored by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) stated that she was “truly honored and incredibly excited” to be chosen for the program. “I am eager to start a project with my fellow Emerging Leaders,” she added. “I will strive to make ALA, YALSA and the SJSU iSchool proud!” Figard is currently working as a teen services community program specialist at Belmont Library in Belmont, California.

Lauren Klein, who, along with Dontana McPherson-Joseph, is also a current MLIS student chosen for the Emerging Leaders program and shared Figard’s excitement. “We’re all still waiting to hear what our projects will be and to meet the people we will be working with, but there are some very exciting projects planned. [It’s] cool to know we will be contributing to the profession and ALA in such a big way through these projects.” Klein is head library assistant at Emerson Public Library in Emerson, New Jersey. McPherson-Joseph is a public services associate at Charles County Public Library in Waldorf, Maryland, and was sponsored for the program by the ALA’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Round Table.

The 2016 Emerging Leaders program will begin with orientation and training at the ALA 2016 Midwinter Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts. The leaders will then continue to network and work on their projects for the following six months online. Finally, all participants will then showcase their project planning efforts with a poster session at the ALA 2016 Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida, where this year’s program will conclude.

More information on the Emerging Leaders program can be found on the ALA website. Congratulations to the SJSU iSchool students and alumnae chosen for this prestigious program!