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Meet ALA’s New Executive Director

On behalf of the Executive Board, I’m delighted to announce that Tracie D. Hall will become the American Library Association’s new executive director on February 24, 2020. She’ll take the reins from the very capable hands of Mary W. Ghikas, who has worked for ALA since 1995 and served as executive director since January 2018. Mary will be on hand to aid the transition through June.

Tracie Hall

It’s a thrill to welcome Tracie back to the ALA family. As some of you may know, she was among the first cohort of Spectrum Scholars in 1998 and served as the Director of the Office for Diversity from 2003-2006. Her unique combination of philanthropy and library know-how position her to be the leader ALA needs today. She is optimistic, energizing, and innovative, qualities that will serve the association well as it continues its investments in advocacy, development, and information technology.


Tracie’s background is impressive indeed. She comes to us most recently from the Chicago-based Joyce Foundation, where, since 2016, she has been developing new grant programs—such as the Spark Grant for artists with the Chicago Artists Coalition and the Equity in the Arts Seed Grant initiative with the South East Chicago Commission (SECC)—designed to catalyze and scale neighborhood-based arts venues, cultural programming, and creative entrepreneurship. She has also co-designed leadership and workforce development initiatives such as the Arts Leaders of Color Fellowship with Americans for the Arts (AFTA), Re-Tool 21, and the Creative Lab for Cultural Leaders with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; she also conceived of and helped launch the Black Dance Legacy Project uniting some of Chicago’s premier dance companies in partnership with the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts. While at Joyce, Tracie has also served in several national arts leadership capacities in board roles, on awards panels, and as an advisor. Tracie was appointed to serve on the City of Chicago’s Cultural Advisory Council at the beginning of 2020.


Tracie started her career directing shelters and transitional housing for homeless youth and then took a position in youth services at the Seattle Public Library, where she notes she “fell deeply in love with libraries.” In 1998 she became part of the first cohort of Spectrum Scholars, a then-new program to diversify librarianship, completing her MLIS at the University of Washington. After working at the New Haven Free and Hartford Free Public Libraries, she would go on to become the second director of ALA’s Office for Diversity in 2003, where she administered the Spectrum program and became a visible and well-regarded leader, speaking nationally; delivering diversity, equity and inclusion trainings; commissioning and co-authoring Diversity Counts, ALA’s first comprehensive study of gender, race, and age in the library profession; and, authoring three successful IMLS grants to expand the Spectrum Scholarship Program. She left ALA in 2006 to become Assistant Dean of Dominican’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science.


Tracie brings broad and varied experience to the ALA, having served in numerous leadership positions inside and outside of the field, including Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events for the City of Chicago; Vice President of Strategy and Organizational Development at Queens Library (NY); and Community Investment Strategist and Chicago Community Investor in the Boeing Company’s Global Corporate Citizenship Division. She has also been a visiting or adjunct professor in Library and Information Science at Dominican and Catholic Universities and in Women’s Studies and Swahili at Southern Connecticut State and Wesleyan Universities, respectively.


In addition to her MLIS from the Information School at the University of Washington, Tracie holds an MA in International and Area studies with an emphasis on Sub-Saharan Africa from Yale University and dual bachelor’s degrees in Law and Society and Black Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Tracie has also studied at the Universities of Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in East Africa.


Tracie’s work has earned her numerous leadership and service awards including two from ALA, the 2006 ALA Staff Award and YALSA Excellence in Youth Services Award in 1999 for creating Seattle Public Library’s Web Travelers youth technology camp, a pioneering coding program designed to prepare youth from low-income families for technology careers. Previously designated as a Library Journal “Mover and Shaker,” Tracie is an active writer and speaker on topics spanning service innovation and racial equity in librarianship, arts administration and the creative economy, as well social justice.


Tracie becomes 10th executive director and 24th chief staff officer of the 144-year-old association.


Many thanks go to the members of the ALA Executive Director Search Committee, including Chair Courtney L. Young, university librarian, Colgate University, Hamilton, N.Y.; ALA Executive Board Rep., Tamika Barnes, department head, Perimeter Library Services at Georgia State University, Dunwoody, Ga.; ALA Executive Board Rep., Trevor Dawes, vice provost, Libraries and Museums and May Morris University librarian, University of Delaware, Newark, Del.; ALA Budget Analysis and Review Committee (BARC) Rep., Carl A. Harvey II, assistant professor, School Librarianship, Longwood University, Farmville, Va.; ALA At-Large Councilor Rep., Peter Hepburn, head librarian, College of the Canyons, Santa Clarita, Calif.; Joint Conference of Librarians of Color (JCLC) Rep., Dora Ho, young adult librarian, Los Angeles Public Library; ALA Staff Liaison Rep., Daniel Hoppe, associate executive director, ALA Human Resources, Chicago; ALA Chapter Councilors Rep., Susan Jennings, dean of library services, Chattanooga (Tenn.) State Community College; ALA Round Tables Rep., Charles Kratz, dean of library and information fluency, University of Scranton (Pa.) Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Memorial Library; ALA Staff Rep., Barb Macikas, executive director, Public Library Association, Chicago; ALA Divisions Rep., James (Jim) Neal, university librarian emeritus, Columbia University, New York; ALA Staff Rep., Sheila O’Donnell, director, ALA Development Office, Chicago; ALA Emerging Leaders Rep., Melissa Stoner, Native American studies librarian, Ethnic Studies Library, University of California, Berkeley, Calif.; and ALA Divisions Rep., Steven Yates, assistant director, University of Alabama College of Communication and Information Science, Tuscaloosa, Ala. We are also grateful for the assistance of the firm Isaacson, Miller on this successful search.


Best wishes,

Wanda K. Brown
Wanda K. Brown, ALA President

Posted on: January 15, 2020, 12:15 pm Category: Uncategorized

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