Developing Leaders Program | 2019-20 Cohort

The 2019-2020 Developing Leaders Cohort consisted of eight working groups.


Hudson Valley Highsteppers

Kathy Reilly, Beekman Library
Melissa Tacke, Castleton Public Library
Kristy Lee, Sojourner Truth Library

Project: “Conflict for the Conflict-Averse”

Our group was inspired by our DISC assessment, a behavior assessment tool based on the DISC theory of psychologist William Moulton Marston, which centers on the behaviors and tendencies associated with Dominance (D), Influence (I), Steadiness (S), and Conscientiousness (C). Evelyn Neale noted, during her discussion at our initial Developing Leaders Program retreat, that although all DISC types are represented in the field, most librarians tend to be C or S types -- types associated with conflict aversion. Further, in the literature about library leadership, it is often offered as a truism that librarians want to avoid conflict. We believe that many in the library field share this attribute and can benefit from practical strategies to strengthen their conflict-resolution skills.   

What We Hope to Achieve/Outcomes:

  1. Define conflict and identify common situations where library professionals are likely to encounter conflict in the workplace.
  2. Identify useful strategies to build comfort and proficiency in managing conflict.
  3. Through our presentation and handouts, help others in our profession to manage conflict more effectively.
  4. Deliverables – a reading list and a handout with practical tips.
  5. Set the groundwork for a potential training or webinar on this topic.

Advisor: Kristen Charles-Scaringi, Kingston Public Library

Punkass Book Jockeys

Jason Thomas, Newburgh Free Library
Jen McCreery, Desmond-Fish Public Library
Donna Hubbard, Brooklyn Public Library

Project: Beyond Narcan: Developing Library Resources and Programs to Help Communities Combat the Opioid Crisis

We will research current library practices and statistics and pilot programs and partnerships to develop recommended resources for library's to assist communities and families dealing with the opioid crisis.

Advisor: Natalie Hurteau, Upper Hudson Library System


Michael Fitzpatrick, Glen Cove Public Library
Lissetty Johnson, Patchogue-Medford Public Library
Elizabeth Hughes, Half Hollow Hills Community Library
Roseann Acosta, Hicksville Public Library

Project Name: Pathways to Inclusivity

Our team is creating a toolkit to discuss the pathways libraries can take to achieve inclusivity within their communities. We will provide examples of programming efforts, outreach efforts, collection development policies and general building design ideas that can be utilized in libraries, no matter their location, in order to promote a welcoming and inclusive environment to every patron in their area.

Advisor: Neely McCahey, Sachem Public Library



Joseph Burke, Altamont Free Library
Stephanie Dobiecki, Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library
Amy Hathaway, Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
Liz King, RPI (Rensselaer Libraries)

Project Name: Other Duties as Assigned: An Unconference

An informal learning event to be held in the Capital Region, approximately two hours in length with an optional networking event to follow. Librarians with expertise in non-traditional work duties share their knowledge with current library school students and early career librarians.

This event will serve to bridge the knowledge gap of what is formally taught in library school and the practical experience learned on the job. Some examples of topics that might be covered include facilities maintenance, dealing with teenage patrons, issues related to homelessness, and intergenerational communications.  

The Unconference is currently scheduled for Saturday, March 7th from 2pm-4pm at Troy Public Library. A networking event is planned to be hosted at another venue in Troy, NY.

Advisor: Mary Coon, Albany Public Library 


Last Week’s Cheese

Catherine Brenner, Bethlehem Public Library
Meghan Wakeman, Capital District Library Council
Emily Spinner, Ellis Medical Library
Elizabeth Putnam, East Greenbush Community Library

Project Name: Trauma-Informed Toolkit for NY’s Libraries

All libraries have patrons and employees who have experienced trauma. Creating a Trauma Informed Library will provide ease of access to individuals who have experienced trauma as well as provide tools for library staff to enhance the level of service they provide. This project will create a  toolkit to help libraries become trauma-informed institutions. The toolkit will incorporate the 4 R’s: Realization, Recognition, Response, and Resist Re-Traumatization into library services and staff training.

Advisor: Sarah Clark, Voorheesville Public Library


315 Dewey Decimators

Jessica Regitano, Chittenango Central Schools
Kelly Delevan, Syracuse University Libraries
Jesi Buell, Colgate University Case-Geyer Library
Karie Doelger, Franklin Essex Hamilton BOCES School Library System
Dorian Lenney-Wallace, Ogdensburg Public Library

Project Name:​  Project ENABLE: Raising Awareness of Accessible and Inclusive Practices in Academic, School, and Public Libraries

The members of the 315 Dewey Decimators work in different types of libraries, including school, public, and academic libraries.  While our institutions might face different challenges, one aspect that impacts us all is assisting patrons and, with the growing numbers of people diagnosed with disabilities, it has become very important to ensure that the library, its resources, and its programming are accessible and inclusive for all patrons.

In response to findings that many librarians do not receive training or have specific knowledge on how to address the needs of individuals with disabilities, ​Project ENABLE (Expanding Non-discriminatory Access By Librarians Everywhere)​ was developed by Syracuse University’s Center for Digital Literacy under the advisement of Dr. Ruth Small.  Thanks to five IMLS grants over the past decade, Project ENABLE provides online training for academic, public, and school librarians through a series of six interactive modules: Disability Awareness, Disability Law & Policy, Creating an Accessible Library, Planning Inclusive Programs & Instruction, Assistive Technology in Libraries, and Targeting Autism in Libraries.  Individuals who complete the program modules can receive professional development credits.

The 315 Dewey Decimators’ project will entail working with Project ENABLE  to better promote their work to the libraries within the 315 area by developing resources and marketing these tools/programs locally.  Our work would include reviewing their training modules to see what content can be updated or added, as well as developing a marketing strategy to promote these resources and awareness of accessibility and inclusivity in libraries.  This marketing plan could be used as a model for librarians in other states as well.

Advisor: Chris Sagaas, Utica Public Library

The A Team

Rebecca Budinger-Mulhearn, Avon Free Library
Alicia Gunther, Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County
Melissa McHenry, Gates Public Library

Project Name: At the Intersection of Customer Service and Patron Privacy

On the front lines of library customer service, we are often confronted with having to decide between providing good customer service OR protecting patron privacy. We will explore these challenges, the repercussions of acting on one or the other, and provide tools for navigating the often conflicting nature of these aspects of service. The A Team (Rebecca Budinger-Mulhearn, Alicia Gunther, and Melissa McHenry) looks forward to exploring this topic and, hopefully, helping our fellow library workers in all types of library settings who are often faced with this challenge.

Advisor: Sarah Potwin, Niagara Falls Public Library



Tina Dalton, Cuba Circulating Library
Aaron Meyers, Olean City School District
Kelly Johnson, Cornell University Veterinary Library
Erika Jenns, Southern Tier Library System

Project: #randomcoffee

#randomcoffee, a program designed and implemented by Hootsuite, is meant to build relationships among colleagues and across organizations by randomly pairing individuals for coffee dates. The program provides short-term casual connections that serve as networking opportunities for professional growth. Within communities, librarians working at different types of libraries may rarely have occasion to meet or work with each other.  We propose to implement Southern Tier #randomcoffee among librarians within a small geographic region to strengthen professional bonds and encourage collaboration.

Our project will involve the creation of marketing materials, a letter of introduction, a tool to randomize pairs of participants, and a follow-up survey. For this project, we will conduct a case study. In doing so, we will invite librarians from a geographic area of approximately 50 square miles. These communities include Allegany, Olean, Hinsdale, Portville, and Cuba. Library types represented within this case study will include public, school, and academic. We will extend invitations to an estimated 75 librarians and library staff. This sampling of libraries crosses county lines, school district lines, and library system lines, and therefore, will provide a rich opportunity for participating librarians to mingle outside their traditional networks.

Advisor: Jacie Spoon