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President and Chief Executive Officer

  • Urban Libraries Council
  • Washington, DC

This position has been filled.

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The Urban Libraries Council is seeking an innovative, thoughtful, and visionary leader as their next President and Chief Executive Officer (President). The President will report to the Executive Board and is responsible for leading the strategic and operational planning, organizational and financial management, program development, and external relationship building for the ULC.

ULC members include more than 160 North America’s premier public library systems and the organizations that serve them, the Urban Libraries Council is focused on the enrichment of urban communities by strengthening and advocating for their public libraries.  Thriving public libraries are the result of collaborative leadership, trustees, library directors, and a variety of other constituents working together to grasp new opportunities and conduct research that improves professional practice.

The new Urban Libraries Council President will benefit from a period of strong leadership, remarkable membership engagement and growth, and creative programming. Additionally, the talented and dedicated ULC team and infrastructure have the expertise to support members, new research, and innovative and future focused programs. The Urban Libraries Council is poised to develop a new vision and strategy to continue its distinguished success and impact on communities. An effective, focused, and visionary leader can dramatically strengthen public libraries as an essential part of a thriving, informed, and healthy urban community.

About Urban Libraries Council

The Urban Libraries Council has spent 50 years proudly serving its members, and enriching communities by strengthening and promoting the value of its libraries as essential and dynamic public assets. The ULC serves as a dynamic forum for sharing best practices and innovative ideas that inspire programs that support learning, a strong economy, and an active democracy. ULC is an innovation and action tank of North America’s leading public library systems. Through cutting edge research and strategic relationship building and partnerships, the ULC elevates the power of libraries as essential, transformative institutions central to the healthy functioning of communities.  The impact of public libraries and efforts to create sustainable and equitable access to information is evidenced through outcomes in literacy, education, workforce and economic development, digital equity, and race and social equity.

Member libraries are committed to achieving racial and social equity by contributing to a more just society in which all community members can realize their full potential. The ULC is in a unique position to align and leverage resources giving their members an opportunity to nimbly engage in current issues and give them the tools to provide infinite possibilities for all. Libraries are willing partners in achieving true and sustained equity through an intentional, systemic, and transformative library-community partnership. Libraries are trusted, venerable, and enduring institutions, central to their communities in the movement towards racial and social equity. The purpose of the ULC is to ensure its members become stronger institutions with methods, connections, and tools that enable urban libraries to achieve greater outcomes, address structural racism, and advance social justice for the people and communities they serve.

The ULC headquarters is located in Washington D.C.

Strategic Focus Areas:

More than any civic institution, the social capital and wealth of resources that libraries provide have a positive impact on the well-being of their communities. ULC’s role is to raise the profile of libraries as essential agents that transform people and communities.

Member libraries enjoy a range of services including, sharing of knowledge and best practices, peer member groups, webinars, the ULC Innovations Initiative, leadership briefs and research publications, and member receptions among other benefits.  A new tool, Edge 360, is a leadership tool that guides libraries of all sizes to set measurable, strategic goals for digital equity/inclusion and anti-racism to engage government and local leaders in meaningful conversations about 21st-century community needs.

To advocate for the value of libraries as essential 21st century strategic partners the work of ULC centers around three strategic themes:

  • Education: Education transforms the lives of individuals and families, and is the foundation for strong, economically vital communities. In the knowledge economy the library is the learning institution ready to guide and support residents at every age and level of need.  A well-prepared and educated population creates and contributes to a strong economy and quality of life. The ULC will strive to advance libraries as education leaders who are intentionally reaching and engaging under-resourced people and communities, lower barriers and engage youth in equitable and active learning and promote cross-sector collaboration between public libraries and other organizations in the educational ecosystem.
  • Digital Equity: Libraries are critical anchors for digital access and equity in their local communities. For millions of people, libraries are their gateway to the digital universe and digital readiness. The ULC will focus on placing libraries at the center of digital equity conversations to move beyond the digital inclusion model that relies on physical spaces and loaned tools to meet daily needs. The ULC strives to support equitable opportunities for citizens in the digital age by supporting a robust local economy as well as a healthy, inclusive community.
  • Healthy, Sustainable Communities: Libraries are powerful partners and allies to local government, business, and other community organizations in creating healthy, sustainable, informed communities. Libraries lead partnerships, programs, and services that advance a strong local economy, address climate change, support increased literacy, and utilize a lens of race and social equity. The ULC creates an environment that places libraries at the center of community leadership advancing social justice, anti-racism, and equity; pathways to economic opportunity; and elevating conversations and awareness of libraries as essential leaders for sustaining and fostering democracy, public health, and climate change action programming.

Executive Board

The Executive Board is the primary decision-making body of the ULC.  Representing both ULC members and major stakeholders of North America ‘s major public libraries, the Board sets direction and guides the ULC’s programs and its development. In addition to ad hoc meetings called by the chair throughout the year, the Board conducts formal meetings three times a year:  in the spring, summer, and late fall.

For more information on Urban Libraries Council please visit the website.

The Opportunity

The Urban Libraries Council is seeking an innovative, thoughtful, and visionary leader as their next President and Chief Executive Officer (President). The President who will work in close collaboration with the Executive Board, the membership, and the ULC team, and will be charged with leading the strategic and operational planning, organizational and financial management, program development, and external relationship building for the ULC. This individual will lead, develop, and mentor an experienced and passionate staff to assess needs and opportunities for the Members and will represent the ULC externally in relevant networks and related associations.

The next President will have the opportunity to tell ULC’s story about the organization’s impact, member ROI, and the shared values for communities and individuals across the U.S. and Canada as the celebration of the 50th anniversary begins. The ULC has 12 staff members and a budget of $3.5 million.  Revenue sources include member fees and product revenue.

The Executive Board believes that the Urban Libraries Council (ULC) and its members will benefit from a variety of strategic focus areas but highlight the following areas of focus to ensure libraries are recognized as essential leaders for education, digital equity, healthy sustainable communities, and COVID-19 recovery:

  • Weave together a cohesive and compelling vision for the future development of libraries and library information services and collaboration.
  • Grow the organization’s equity and anti-racism work both internally and externally.
  • Communicate and spread knowledge of the ULC value proposition to public and political constituents; Identify opportunities for libraries to heighten their impact value and recognition as essential institutions for the communities they serve – both during the pandemic and the recovery.
  • Develop tools, benchmarks, data, fresh knowledge, and methods that libraries can use to advance work with the greatest impact in their communities.
  • Strengthen financial sustainability through diversification of revenue sources. Securing additional resources will grow the impact of ULC and its members.
  • Enhance ULC’s engagement and relationships across international and national networks, and related associations resulting in enhanced credibility and sustainable global impact.
Candidate Profile

The President and CEO of the Urban Libraries Council will possess the following professional and personal qualities, skills, and characteristics:

A Visionary and Strategic Leader

The President will be a strategic, visionary leader who, in partnership with the staff and Executive Board, sets and clearly articulates a compelling vision for the Council and how it can effectively mobilize support from all member organizations to continue ULC’s dynamic growth, innovation, and impact. The President will keenly understand the member community, and the power of a member coalition to use its leadership status and convening power to advocate for the changing needs, opportunities, and long-term sustainability and evolution of public libraries across the U.S. and Canada. The President will be passionate about advancing the breadth of initiatives surrounding public libraries, knowledgeable about cities and urban issues with the ability to synthesize multiple viewpoints and perspectives to create an action or product.

Innovator and Builder

With knowledge of the library environment and a belief in libraries as genuine urban assets to our communities, the President will be a pioneer of new initiatives to foster the ULC members’ success. With a keen eye toward evolving and emerging trends, the President will be forward-thinking and driven to uncover new approaches and ideas for the Council and its members to consider as ULC seeks to capitalize on new opportunities. The President will be an active listener and strong communicator, adaptable across the many constituents and audiences that are part of this network.

Advocate and Relationship Builder

The President will serve as an ambassador for the Council, sharing its mission and vision and helping to expand the Council’s reach more broadly. The President will be a warm, engaging communicator who brings a passion for advocating for the needs and perspectives of the public library leaders to key partners and communicating members’ initiatives, progress, and achievements. The President will have exceptional interpersonal skills with the ability to build, nurture, and sustain strong support across a wide range of constituents and collaborators, including library directors, municipal leaders, peer associations, and policy leaders nationally and internationally. The President will develop a powerful sense of shared purpose in others and motivate them to engage in the future of the Council and its work.

A Social and Racial Equity Champion

The President will bring experience leading organizations with a clear strategic focus on racial equity through times of transition and change. The President will be well versed in issues of racial equity, comfortable articulating that focus in all forms of communication, and a fierce advocate of these issues on every possible platform.

Organizational Leader, Project Manager, and Administrator

The President will have a track record of sound financial planning and management experience, oversight and accountability, with the ability to clearly communicate financial status to the Executive Board. The President will possess the ability to set strategy, prioritize and inspire and empower an exceptional staff to work together in maximizing ULC’s progress and success. With clear priorities and strong communication, the President will encourage collaboration across functional areas and help all staff to understand their role in achieving the Council’s strategic goals, leading to strong team cohesion and respect. The President will have the ability to attract, develop, manage, and empower teams to grow their skills and create an environment where people can do their best work.

Passion for the Mission

The ideal candidate will utilize their organizational and capacity building leadership and ability to engage and energize staff, board members, and member organizations around a clear, shared vision for the future of public libraries and their affiliates. A thoughtful, focused, and decisive leader, the next President will pursue innovative, entrepreneurial solutions to critical issues libraries are facing, particularly in the face of the ongoing pandemic, while ensuring exceptional quality and value to all member organizations within the Council. The President will be passionate about helping all libraries move forward to reach their full potential of impact and value in their communities.

Compensation & Benefits

Salary is competitive and commensurate with the level of experience. This position is located in Washington, D.C.

Contact

Beth Schaefer and Marisa Chock of Koya Partners have been exclusively retained for this search. To express your interest in this role please submit your materials here. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

Koya Partners is committed to providing reasonable accommodation to individuals living with disabilities. If you are a qualified individual living with a disability and need assistance expressing interest online, please email NonprofitSearchOps@divsearch.com. If you are selected for an interview, you will receive additional information regarding how to request an accommodation for the interview process.

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Equal Employment Opportunity

It is policy of the Urban Libraries Council (ULC) to provide equal employment opportunity without regard to race, color, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, physical handicap or veteran status.  This policy relates to all phases of employment, including but not limited to recruitment, employment, placement, promotion, demotion, transfer, reduction in force, termination, compensation, selection for training, use of facilities, and participation in ULC-sponsored employee activities.  New employees will be selected and present employees will be promoted strictly on the basis of the individual’s qualifications to meet the needs of the organization.

Affirmative Action

It is the policy of the Urban Libraries Council to take affirmative action to enhance the employment opportunities of minorities, women, veterans, and persons with disabilities.  Management and supervisory personnel are responsible for implementation and administration of the Equal Employment Opportunity Policy and the Affirmative Action Program in all areas under their supervision.

About Koya Partners

Koya Partners, a part of Diversified Search Group, is a leading executive search and strategic advising firm dedicated to connecting exceptionally talented people with mission-driven clients. Our founding philosophy—The Right Person in the Right Place Can Change the World—guides our work as we partner with nonprofits & NGOs, institutions of higher education, responsible businesses, and social enterprises in local communities and around the world.

For more information about Koya Partners, visit www.koyapartners.com.

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