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Professional Development

MLA Rising Stars

Established in 2010, the MLA Rising Star program gives members the opportunity to develop skills, knowledge, and personal characteristics needed to become a leader in MLA. The yearly leadership development program matches each Rising Star with a mentor in a curriculum that includes:

  • Monthly classes led by MLA member leaders.
  • Experiences and training to develop self-awareness of skills and dispositions as a leader.
  • Opportunities to discuss, reflect upon, and apply concepts from classic leadership texts.
  • Opportunities to gain a comprehensive, intimate view of all aspects of MLA, from Board meetings to MLA history, with a focus on strategic planning.
  • A group project that relates to current MLA initiatives.
  • Working with a matched career mentor.

Rising Star Criteria

  • The applicant does not need to be a current member of MLA when applying to the program. If selected, the applicant will be required to obtain MLA membership for the duration of the program, which spans two membership cycles. Two years of MLA memberships is required.
  • The applicant is considered ineligible if they have served on the MLA Board of Directors.
  • The applicant must have attended at least one national MLA annual conference (in-person or virtual).
  • The applicant must have demonstrated interest and commitment to professional service through participation in activities or conferences related to medical librarianship.

Rising Star Program Requirements

  • To fully participate in the one year program, complete all assignments, and participate in 10-12 virtual meetings (90 minutes each).
  • An estimated time commitment of 8-12 hours per month.
  • Attendance at annual conference towards the end of the program is encouraged, but optional. This would allow program members to meet in-person and present achievements.
  • The recipient assumes all costs of attending the annual conference.

Rising Star Applications

  • The application will include questions on:
    • service and engagement within MLA or other professional organizations,
    • leadership experience within MLA and other professional organizations, and
    • applicant's MLA and personal leadership goals.
  • Please provide clear examples and evidence of activities or learning opportunities you have engaged in that fulfill the criteria;
  • A current curriculum vitae or resume;
  • A letter of support from the applicant’s library director indicating support for time to participate in all aspects of the program and attendance at the annual conferences. We suggest the director’s letter of support include:
    • Dedicated time to participate in the Rising Star program activities;
    • The applicant’s potential for MLA leadership, as evidenced by prior participation in MLA activities, leadership experience or training in other arenas;
    • Financial support to attend the MLA annual meeting (optional).
  • Late and incomplete applications will not be considered.


The recipients will be notified in March and asked to confirm their participation in the one year program. If there are no appropriate applicants, the association may elect not to run the program in a given year.

Ready to Submit an Application for the Program?

  • Applications for the 2024-25 program are closed.
  • Applications for the 2025-2026 program will open in August 2024.
  • Applicants will be notified in March 2025 with the results.

Rising Stars


  • Rising Star: Sunny Chung, AHIP
    Mentor: Xan Goodman
  • Rising Star: John Mokonyama, AHIP
    Mentor: Frances Chu
  • Rising Star: Angela N. Murrell
    Mentor: Lin Wu
  • Rising Star: Kay Strahan, AHIP
    Mentor: Adela Justice

Program Director, Anabelle Nuñez
Project Director, Erinn Aspinall, AHIP
Assessment Director, Stephanie Swanberg, AHIP


  • Rising Star: Michelle Knecht, AHIP
    Mentor: Lisa Acuff, AHIP
  • Rising Star: Kimberly Powell
    Mentor: Kim Mears, AHIP
  • Rising Star: Rachel Lane Walden
    Mentor: Katie Prentice, AHIP
  • Rising Star: Rachel Whitney, AHIP
    Mentor: Joey Nicholson

Program Director, Stephanie Swanberg, AHIP
Project Director, Anabelle Nuñez
Assessment Director,  Gail Kouame


Engaging New Members in MLA: Helping Early Career & New Health Sciences Librarians Thrive

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  • Rising Star: Steph Hendren
    Mentor: Erika Sevetson
  • Rising Star: LaTeesa James
    Mentor: Tony Nguyen, AHIP
  • Rising Star: Hilary Jasmin
    Mentor: Laura Menard
  • Rising Star: Alessia Zanin-Yost
    Mentor: Amy Allison, AHIP

Program Director, Gail Kouame
Project Director, Stephanie Swanberg, AHIP
Assessment Director, Rachel Lerner, AHIP
Leadership & Management Curriculum Committee Chair, Debra Werner


Exploring Strategies to Improve Association Membership Diversity, Recruitment, and Retention

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  • Rising Star: Jacqueline Freeman 
    Mentor: Kelly Thormodson
  • Rising Star: Nancy Shin
    Mentor: Emily Glenn
  • Rising Star: Laura Wright
    Mentor: Cathy Pepper

Program Director, Rachel Lerner, AHIP
Project Director, Gail Kouame
Assessment Director, Gregg Stevens, AHIP
Leadership & Management Curriculum Committee Chair, Tamara M. Nelson, AHIP


Advocacy is All of Us: Recommendations to Enhance MLA's Advocacy Initiatives 

(Passcode: zZXvA&N3)

  • Rising Star:Alyssa Kathryn Migdalski, AHIP
    Mentor: Randall Watts. AHIP
  • Rising Star: Kathleen Elizabeth Phillips
    Mentor: Amy Blevins
  • Rising Star: JJ Pionke
    Mentor: Mellanye Lackey
  • Rising Star: Erin M. Smith, AHIP
    Mentor: Holly Grossetta Nardini, AHIP

Program Director, Gregg Stevens, AHIP
Project Director, Rachel Lerner, AHIP
Leadership & Management Curriculum Committee Chair, Tony Nguyen, AHIP


MLA Communities Transition Case Study: Looking Back to Guide the Future

See MLA vConnections Series for research presentation. 

  • Rising Star: Kelsa Bartley 
    Mentor: Deborah Sibley
  • Rising Star: Kathryn Houk, AHIP
    Mentor: Marie Ascher
  • Rising Star: Jane Morgan-Daniel, AHIP
    Mentor: Tara Douglas-Williams
  • Rising Star: Elaina Vitale
    Mentor: Amy Gische Lyons, AHIP

Program Director, Elizabeth Hinton, AHIP
Project Director, Gregg Stevens, AHIP
Assessment Director, Linné Girouard, AHIP
Leadership & Management Curriculum Committee Chair, Erinn Aspinall


Making Leaders Amazing: A Proposal for a Leadership Training Program   

2018–2019 Rising Stars’ Experience

  • Rising Star: Alexandria Leigh Brackett, AHIP 
    Mentor: Kristine Alpi, AHIP
  • Rising Star: Rachel Helbing, AHIP
    Mentor: Neville Prendergast
  • Rising Star: Liz Kellermeyer
    Mentor: Rikke Ogawa, AHIP
  • Rising Star:Terry Kit Selfe, AHIP 
    Mentor: Michael Kronenfeld, AHIP, FMLA


Defining a project proposal to enhance the Medical Library Association’s Annual Meeting through session-level assessment.

Hypothesis, vol. 30, no. 1, Fall/Winter 2018

MLA'18 Presentation

  • Rising Star: Rachel Keiko Stark, AHIP 
    Mentor: Gail Yokote, AHIP, FMLA
  • Rising Star: Laura Menard
    Mentor: Michael Kronenfeld, AHIP, FMLA
  • Rising Star: Hanna Lee Schmillen
    Mentor: Ruth Holst, AHIP, FMLA
  • Rising Star: Nicole Theis-Mahon
    Mentor: Derek Halling, AHIP


Action Research to Improve MLA’s Communities

Hypothesis, vol. 29, no. 2, Fall/Winter 2017

  • Rising Star: Phill Jo 
    Mentor: Linné Girouard, AHIP
  • Rising Star: Rachel Charlotte Lerner
    Mentor: Karen Liljequist, AHIP
  • Rising Star: Tony Nguyen, AHIP
    Mentor: April Schweikhard, AHIP
  • Rising Star: Gregg A. Stevens, AHIP
    Mentor: Michael Kronenfeld, AHIP, FMLA


  • Rising Star: Roy Eugene Brown, AHIP
    Mentor: Helen-Ann Brown Epstein, AHIP and the Hospital Libraries Section leadership team
    Project: Hospital Libraries Section VALUES@ Initiative
  • Rising Star: Lisa Huang
    Mentor: Laurie L. Thompson, AHIP, FMLA
    Project: MLANews Feasibility Study
  • Rising Star: April Joy Schweikhard
    Mentor: Angela Dixon, AHIP
    Project: Chapter Council Roundtables
  • Rising Star: Debra Werner
    Mentor: Linné Girouard and Linda Hasman
    Project: Public Policy Toolkit for Members, Sections, and Chapters


2012–2013 MLA Rising Stars hosted by MLA Board of Directors


Hosted by MLA Board of Directors

Have a question?

Contact MLA's Director of Education, Barry Grant.