First Public Listening Session to be Held at the Mattapan Branch of the BPL Tuesday, November 10
Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced the members of the Boston Public Library Presidential Search Committee, which will assist with the search for the next president of the Boston Public Library. The BPL Presidential Search Committee is chaired by John Palfrey, head of school at Phillips Academy in Andover.
“I have the utmost faith and confidence in the abilities of those serving on the Search Committee,” said Mayor Walsh. “The Boston Public Library is one of Boston’s most treasured public institutions, and this process will incorporate transparency and public participation. I look forward to the selection of a final candidate: a dynamic leader with vision, passion and an innovative outlook, who can take our library system to new heights to service the people of this great city and the state of Massachusetts, as well as visitors from this region and around the world.”
The next president of the BPL will be expected to shape and build upon the BPL’s strategic vision, the Compass Strategic Plan, the strengths of its collections, its technological innovations, and services across the neighborhoods of Boston; and to exert the leadership necessary to realize that vision.
“I could not be more delighted that such a diverse and experienced group has come together to help find the next president of the Boston Public Library,” said Palfrey. “We look forward to engaging with people across the City of Boston during the months to come as this search moves forward.”
“The Boston Public Library is a center for learning and a highly regarded cultural institution for both the City of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” said John T. Hailer, Interim Chair of the Boston Public Library Board of Trustees. “I believe that this group of individuals understands the needs of the library community, and will be thoughtful and diligent as they work to identify the best candidate to be the next president of the Boston Public Library.”
The Search Committee will locate, recruit, interview, and evaluate top candidates for the position in conjunction with an executive search firm, which will be selected by the BPL Board of Trustees at their upcoming meeting on Tuesday, November 10 at the Mattapan Branch, located at 1350 Blue Hill Ave. Immediately following the meeting at 3:00 p.m. Presidential Search Committee Chair John Palfrey will hold the first public listening session about the presidential search to hear from the public about the qualities they would like to see in the next president of the BPL.
The members of the Search Committee are as follows:
• Brandon Abbs, President of the City-wide Friends of the BPL and the Friends Group of the Egleston Square Branch Library
• Eileen Abels, Dean of the School of Library and Information Science at Simmons College
• Ben Bradlee Jr., critically acclaimed author and former editor and reporter at the Boston Globe
• Elisa Birdseye, President of the BPL Professional Staff Association and 20-year employee of the BPL
• Jeff Hawkins, Chairman of the BPL Foundation
• Wendell Knox, President and CEO of Abt Associates
• Diane Patrick, Co-Managing Partner of Ropes & Gray’s Boston Office
• Erin Santhouse, Manager of the Mayor’s ONEin3 Initiative
• Natan Santos, Representative on the Mayor’s Youth Council and student at New Mission High School
• Beth Smith, Executive Director of the Hyams Foundation
• Vivian Spiro, Chairman of the Board of the Associates of the Boston Public Library
• Willie Wideman-Pleasants, President of the Friends of the Uphams Corner Library
• Tracy Wiggins, 26-year employee of the BPL
• Linda Zecher, President, Chief Executive Officer and Director of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Full biographies of the Search Committee members are included below.
Brandon Abbs is the President of the City-wide Friends of the Boston Public Library and the Friends Group of the Egleston Square Branch Library, and he has previously served on the Board of JP Reads. Brandon is an avid reader, library user, and book collector. He has been an effective advocate for the Boston Public Library since 2010. In 2011 he was named a Bank of America Local Hero and received the Harvard Medical School/Harvard School of Dental Medicine Dean’s Community Service Award for his work advocating for the Boston Public Library.
Eileen Abels joined Simmons College as Dean of the School of Library and Information Science (SLIS) in July 2013. Prior to joining Simmons SLIS, Abels was the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor at the iSchool at Drexel. She also held a faculty position for 15 years at the University of Maryland’s College of Information Studies. Prior to her academic career, Abels was a librarian and information professional in special libraries, including the Instituto de Investigaciones Eléctricas in Mexico, Price Waterhouse’s Washington National Tax Service, and the Boston Consulting Group. Her leadership positions in the field of library and information science include serving as president of the Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE) and president of Beta Phi Mu, the International Library & Information Studies Honor Society. She is widely published, including articles and book chapters. Abels has also edited several books and co-authored two books. She obtained her bachelor’s degree from Clark University, MLS degree from the University of Maryland, and Ph.D. from UCLA.
Elisa Birdseye is a graduate of New England Conservatory and Simmons College. She lives in Hyde Park and has worked for the Boston Public Library since 1986, working for 20 years in various departments at the Central Library in Copley Square, and for the past 8 years at the Adams Street Branch in Dorchester. For 10 years she was the supervisor of the Never Too Late Group, an educational/entertainment program for Seniors that is the oldest such library sponsored program in the country. She is the outgoing President of the Boston Public Library Professional Staff Association. Outside the library she is on the Board of the Neponset River Watershed Association, and a professional violist, primarily with the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra, which recently celebrated its 100th anniversary season, and has a nationally recognized arts education program which reaches 30,000 children annually.
Ben Bradlee Jr.
Ben Bradlee Jr. is a critically acclaimed author of four books, including his most recent: The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams. Mr. Bradlee also spent 25 years with the Boston Globe, 10 years as reporter and 15 as an editor. As Deputy Managing Editor, he oversaw the Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church, and supervised the production of a book on the subject, which was released as a movie this Fall. Mr. Bradlee is a graduate of Colby College, and he served in the Peace Corps in Afghanistan in the early 1970s.
Jeff Hawkins has been a board member of the Boston Public Library Foundation (BPLF) since 2005 and in January of 2015 was elected Chairman of the BPLF. Jeff is a Managing Director and the Chief Operating Officer of Sankaty Advisors. Sankaty Advisors, the credit arm of Bain Capital, is a leading global credit specialist with approximately $26 billion in assets under management. Jeff serves on the board of the Dana Hall School and is involved with a number of not for profits including Year Up and City Year. Jeff received a B.A. in Soviet Studies from Trinity College and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.
Wendell Knox, former president and CEO of Abt Associates, a research and consulting company, was responsible for all research, technical assistance, consulting, marketing, and financial operations, as well as strategic direction of the company. Mr. Knox joined Abt Associates in 1969 and held various corporate management positions during his tenure with the firm until he was named president and CEO in 1992. He continues to serve as a director since his retirement in 2009. Mr. Knox is active in civic affairs, including past or present board memberships with Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, Eastern Bank, The Partnership, Inc., Efficacy Institute, Biomedical Sciences Career Program, National Association of Corporate Directors – NE, National Conference for Community and Justice, Hanover Insurance Group, Eastern Enterprises, Dimock Community Foundation and Boston Rising. Mr. Knox currently serves as Board Chair for EdVestors. Mr. Knox earned a BA in Social Relations from Harvard University and he completed the Special Program in Urban Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Diane Patrick is co-managing partner of Ropes & Gray’s Boston office, a partner in the firm’s labor & employment practice, and served as Chair of the Firm’s Diversity Committee. She has over 30 years of experience representing and advising employers in connection with a broad range of labor and employment-related matters. Diane provides strategic counsel to clients regarding their compliance with federal and state employment laws, represents clients before the National Labor Relations Board as well as other federal administrative agencies, counsels employers on matters involving wage and hour regulations, and provides general advice on employment policies and practices. In addition to her years in private practice, Diane also served for eight years at Harvard University as both University Attorney responsible for Harvard’s labor and employment matters and as the University’s Associate Vice President of Human Resources. She also previously served for five years as a teacher in the New York City public school system. Diane serves on numerous boards, including at the Posse Foundation, the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and the Epiphany School. She has also been recognized for her dedicated support for victims of domestic violence.
Erin Santhouse is the Manager of the Mayor’s ONEin3 Initiative, which aims to empower and support Boston’s young adult population. As manager of the Mayor’s ONEin3 initiative, Santhouse is responsible for all programmatic elements of ONEin3, including management of the ONEin3 Council. The Mayor’s ONEin3 Council is an action-oriented group tasked with brainstorming, creating and fulfilling projects that directly impact the lives of Boston’s 20-34 year-olds. The 2015 ONEin3 Council is a diverse body comprised of 37 Boston residents, who live in 20 different neighborhoods across Boston. Santhouse will also engage young people outside of the Council and work to encourage college students to become involved with the City and stay in Boston after graduation. Santhouse received her B.S. in political science from Northeastern University in 2013 and is currently pursuing her MPA from Suffolk University, with an anticipated graduation in May 2018. She resides in Savin Hill where she enjoys exploring new restaurants and taking advantage of Boston’s walkability.
Natan Santos is a representative on the Mayor’s Youth Council and currently attends New Mission High School. While he was born in Boston and raised in Hyde Park, his parents hail from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. After school, he works at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and has a law internship at the Massachusetts Bar Association. In his spare time, Natan enjoys playing basketball and writing poetry. He is currently working on the Arts and Culture committee of the Mayor’s Youth Council to redefine arts as an essential tool for life. After high school, Natan plans to study business and law in college.
Elizabeth (Beth) Smith became Executive Director of the Hyams Foundation in 1990. Hyams is a Boston-based private, independent foundation with a mission of increasing economic, racial and social justice and power within low-income communities in Boston and Chelsea, Massachusetts. Before coming to Hyams, she was Director of Policy at the Massachusetts Department of Social Services and worked before that in the Illinois State Budget Bureau/Office of the Governor and at the University of Chicago. She holds Master’s degrees from Boston University’s Graduate School of Management and the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration. Beth has provided leadership to numerous local public/private funding collaboratives in the community development, affordable housing, and workforce and youth development areas. She is a former board chair of Associated Grant Makers and is a member of its Public Policy Committee. Beth served previously on the national Council on Foundations’ Independent Foundation Task Force and its Diversity and Stewardship Principles for Independent Foundations Committees.
For the past 15 years, Vivian Spiro has served as Chairman of the Board of the Associates of the Boston Public Library, transforming a small, independent 501c3 with a literary focus into a significant source of financial support for the cataloging, conservation and digitization of the BPL’s Special Collections. During that time, she has become well acquainted with many BPL employees at every level, and has developed an in-depth understanding of the institution’s operations and history. Under her leadership, the Associates established the David McCullough Conservation Fund, William O. Taylor Art Preservation Fund, and an endowment for conservation; a writer-in-residence program for an emerging children’s author; three annual “signature” programs designed to spark public awareness of the BPL as a provider of top quality, free educational resources; and series of presentations by scholars aimed at generating interest in and support for conservation of the Special Collections. The Associates’ annual “Literary Lights” dinner, which honors outstanding writers from the Northeast and raises money for the McCullough Conservation Fund, is considered one of Boston’s most successful fundraisers. Prior to joining the Associates Board in 1998, Vivian served as an Overseer of the Museum of Fine Arts, a member of the Events Committee of the Boston Athenaeum and Chairman of the President’s Circle at Beth Israel Hospital. A former journalist and then owner-operator of a public relations firm specializing in medical and technical accounts, Vivian later worked for Blackside Productions on “Eyes on the Prize,” the award winning Civil Rights documentary. She is a resident of Beacon Hill, and a graduate of Tufts University.
Willie Wideman-Pleasants is an author, poet, producer, teacher, cable show host, and the President of the Friends of the Uphams Corner Library. As the President of the friends group for the last three years, she has worked with library to bring and promote poetry readings, dance groups, publishing opportunities to aspiring writers. She is a team leader for a Jumpstart program that helps three-to-five year old children prepare to enter kindergarten to succeed with language and literacy skills. She created and facilitates a class called “Storytelling at Tea,” which was offered as a course for the Osher Life Learning Institute at University of Mass. Boston. She is the producer and host of her own award-winning cable show called “Willie’s Web,” Boston Neighborhood Network (BNN). She combined her talent with three other women and created a professional published author group called, “Authors Without Borders.” They also have a cable show on which Ms. Pleasants is one of the producers, directors and host.
Tracy Wiggins has a long history with the neighborhoods of Boston and many of the branches throughout the Boston Public Library system. She was born in Roxbury, Mass. and spent many days at the Dudley Branch before beginning working there in 1989 at the age of 21 as a Librarian Assistant II. Over the last 26 years, Tracy has spent time working at 14 of the branches, and has been back at Dudley for the last five years. Tracy and her husband settled in Roslindale after living in Dorchester, Mattapan, the North End, and Hyde Park over the years. Tracy is an executive board member of Local 1526 of AFSCME Council 93, which represents many workers at the Boston Public Library, and is currently a member of the BPL Joint Labor Management Board and Health & Safety Committee. In the past she has served on many other BPL committees, such as the Branch Planning Committee, Change Team Committee and the Compass Committee, giving her a broad understanding of the workings of the BPL and its staff.
Linda K. Zecher joined Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) in September 2011 as President, Chief Executive Officer and Director, bringing a strong track record of business transformation and results. Her extensive sales, marketing and technology experience contribute to her ability to successfully lead HMH’s transformation into a global leader in educational content and media. Previously, she served as Corporate Vice President of Microsoft’s $8 billion Worldwide Public Sector organization, where she led a team of nearly 2,000 sales and marketing professionals serving government, education and healthcare customers in more than 100 countries. Prior to joining Microsoft in 2003, Linda held leadership positions with Texas Instruments, Bank of America, PeopleSoft, Oracle and Evolve Corp. Linda currently serves on the board of Hasbro Corporation and the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. She has previously served on numerous boards including the Intelligence National Security Association (INSA), U.S. State Department’s board for overseas schools and James Madison University’s board of visitors. Linda holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Ohio State University and an honorary doctorate from Bentley University.
About BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY
Boston Public Library has a Central Library, twenty-four branches, map center, business library, and a website filled with digital content and services. Established in 1848, the Boston Public Library has pioneered public library service in America. It was the first large free municipal library in the United States, the first public library to lend books, the first to have a branch library, and the first to have a children’s room. Each year, the Boston Public Library hosts thousands of programs and serves millions of people. All of its programs and exhibitions are free and open to the public. At the Boston Public Library, books are just the beginning. To learn more, visit bpl.org.