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The Symposium on Leadership & Management

Session Descriptions

All times are listed in local Eastern time.

Wednesday, May 17

Leading Yourself and Others: Unlocking Your Potential and Thriving

10:30 a.m. - noon

Come to this session where the “Michigan Model of Leadership” developed at the University of Michigan to explore preferred working styles and how this impacts the way we work with others and the leadership choices we make. This session will incorporate interactive activities to help attendees engage with the concepts presented in more depth.

  • Understand your preferred style, including its strengths and liabilities
  • Learn how to adapt your style to work more effectively with others and meet situational needs
  • Use the Michigan Model of Leadership as a tool to understand and improve work dynamics


Ann Cullen is the international business librarian at the Edwin Ginn Library at Tufts University. Cullen has a Master of Library Science from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in library and information science from Simmons University. Before she joined The Fletcher School, Ann Cullen served as a financial librarian at Harvard Business School and then as a business librarian at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. She has also worked in corporate libraries in investment banking and private equity on Wall Street—including for Credit Suisse First Boston, Warburg Pincus, and Goldman Sachs.

Laura Walesby, head of Gast Business Library at Michigan State University is an experienced business leader and library manager with a proven record of collaboration and relationship building. She is a strong advocate for the embedded librarianship model and a strong believer in evidence-based management of libraries and mentoring the development of information professionals from diverse backgrounds.


Silke Janz is a certified executive coach and owner of Three Birches LLC, a coaching business, and an affiliate of the Sanger Leadership Center at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan. She is an experienced leadership trainer bringing more than 20 years of experience in leadership development and executive coaching. She has partnered with universities, Fortune 500 companies, private companies, and US government agencies, helping leaders lead more effectively in a complex world.

Connecting with Stakeholders and Communicating Your Library’s Value Proposition

1:30 – 3:00 p.m. [Note: this session will be streamed to virtual attendees]

Four panelists will discuss their strategies for promoting the library’s value and influence. By highlighting their success stories, they will describe how they identify and work with stakeholders, tell the library’s story, use qualitative and quantitative data to prove impact, and demonstrate value through the library’s strategic plan.


Chris Shaffer, MS, AHIP is university librarian and associate professor at University of California, San Francisco. He has helped plan interprofessional education initiatives and worked with research offices and Clinical and Translational Science Award centers to develop new library services for researchers. A leader in the Orbis Cascade Alliance, Shaffer was a champion for the library consortium’s migration to a Shared Integrated Library System. Shaffer holds a BA in Philosophy from Texas A&M University and an MS in Information Science from the University of North Texas.


Jean Shipman, AHIP, FMLA is retired and holds an adjunct faculty member in biomedical informatics at the University of Utah. In her career, Shipman has experience in five academic health sciences libraries, two regional medical libraries, a hospital library, with a cap at Elsevier as vice president of global library relations. She is recognized for her professional contributions to scholarly communications, innovation, health literacy, and mentoring. Shipman has been active as a librarian throughout her career, graduating with a MS in Library Science.

Jill Strand scopes and implements the knowledge resources legal professionals need to protect their clients' intellectual property as the Director of Research & Knowledge Services at Fish & Richardson P.C. With a problem-solving focus, she takes a strategic approach to ensuring the systems and services her team provides will help attorneys and staff excel in both the practice and business of law. Strand is committed to mentoring new information professionals and demonstrating how to help any organization find, validate, organize, and utilize the right information at the right time.

Laura Walesby is currently serving as the interim assistant dean of faculty engagement at Michigan State University Libraries. In this role, she coordinates the work of liaison librarians, formulates strategy for faculty outreach, and cultivates relationships across campus to advance the University's teachings, research, and outreach missions. Walesby has a BA in political science from Northwestern University and an MSLIS from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

MJ Tooey, MLS, AHIP, FMLA retired as associate vice provost and dean of Health Sciences and Human Services Library at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. In 2019, she received the Marcia C. Noyes Award, MLA’s highest honor. Currently, she serves on the Future of MLA Task Force and chairs the MLA Fellows Group. Tooey is author or co-author of over 200 chapters, articles, presentations or posters.  Her professional interests include leadership, emerging trends, data services, library innovation and design, strategic planning, ethics, and mentoring.

Thursday, May 18

It’s Not Them, It’s Us: Understanding and Addressing the Factors that Negatively Impact the Recruitment, Hiring, and Retention of BIPOC Librarians

9:00 – 10:30 a.m.

This session will focus on recruitment, hiring, and retention of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), specifically what library leaders can do to address issues with recruitment, hiring, and retention of BIPOC employees in their organizations and how to implement inclusivity and belonging practices in the workplace. Within the session, participants will learn more about the issues that negatively impact recruitment and retention of BIPOC employees and actions that can be taken to address those issues.


Kelsa Bartley, MSI, AHIP is the Education and Outreach Librarian in the Learning, Research & Clinical Information Services Department at the Louis Calder Memorial Library, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Kelsa holds a MS in Information. Her research interests include diversity, equity and inclusion in libraries; library marketing, outreach and social media; library instruction and instructional design; also wellness and wellbeing in libraries.


Kawanna Bright, PhD is Assistant Professor of Library Science at East Carolina University. Dr. Bright has a doctorate in Research Methods & Statistics and an MLIS. Her research focuses on library assessment, equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in libraries, research methods in LIS, and the liaison librarianship role in academic libraries. Dr. Bright often conducts workshops and webinars on the practical application of EDI concepts to a variety of topics including recruitment and retention, workplace culture, and assessment.

Re-thinking the Definition of Community and Connections in a Virtually Connected World

1:30 – 3:00 p.m. [Note: this session will be streamed to virtual attendees]

Thanks to technology advances and new social norms, most of us have easy access to cost-effective connection options at our fingertips. Yet, true engagement can feel elusive. Loneliness and disconnection are very real. By actively pursuing new strategies that leverage what is possible now, we can work together to re-define community by learning new interpersonal skills that create engaged relationships and extend our community impact.


Elizabeth Downie is the Librarian and Cataloging Manager at the American Mathematical Society (AMS). 


Mari Anne Snow is the CEO of Sophaya and the Remote Nation Institute (RNI). At RNI, Snow is rewriting the rules of leadership and team collaboration in this new age of remote, distributed, virtual, and flexible interpersonal interactions. Her first-hand experience operationalizing and optimizing flexible teamwork is practical, real world, and results driven. Her non-nonsense approach provides practical tips for leading successful, resilient teams and building trust in distance relationships in today's flexible, ever-changing world.

Friday, May 19

Improv and Leadership

9:00 – 10:30 a.m.

Can methods used by Improv professionals in comedy and theatre be applied to the day-to-day work of librarians? Yes they can!  In this program learn how these practices can prove valuable in being able to respond and adapt quickly to unfamiliar situations and provide ways to spark new insights in approaching our work as librarians and leaders.  The session will start with an overview of research and case studies on how librarians have applied improv techniques followed by a demonstration from PJ Jacokes, co-owner of Go Comedy! Improv Theater, a seasoned improviser and instructor in Michigan's Metro Detroit area.


PJ Jacokes with Ann Cullen and Elizabeth Downie

Jacokes is the co-owner of Go Comedy! Improv Theater (Est. 2007) and a co-founder and producer of the Detroit Improv Festival (Est. 2011). As an actor, he can be seen opposite Eminem, in “Em, Where Ya Been?” as the title character in the short film “Victor,” in Hungry Howies’ long-running "Ad Guy" TV commercials and on Comedy Central’s Detroiters. Jacokes has also been involved in all aspects of corporate training and entertainment - from writing specialty shows for large companies to teaching senior citizens improv games and lots of wonderful work in between. He has worked with the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (CRLT) at the University. of Michigan, bringing interactive theatrical education to universities across North Americ

Forging Ahead: Librarians as Engines of Innovation

1:00 – 2:30 p.m.

Librarians and information professionals are well-positioned to step into leadership roles in many novel areas of innovation, such as virtual reality, artificial intelligence, makerspaces, data management, data visualization, and more. At this highly interactive breakout discussion session, you will engage in meaningful conversations, generate fresh ideas, and forge a better understanding of what it takes to lead novel areas of innovation.

This session will help you tackle questions, such as:

  • How can you leverage information competencies in areas of innovation?
  • What are strategies to launch cutting-edge services?
  • What knowledge and skills are needed to lead new initiatives?
  • Where do you start?

Whether you have already taken the deep dive and are leading your organization in one of these areas or if you are currently contemplating strategies for getting started, this session is for you!


Mark Berendsen, MLIS is Deputy Director of Galter Health Sciences Library & Learning Center, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. The Galter Library team is recognized by Northwestern as experts in cutting edge fields including research data management, research impact and dissemination, bibliometrics, and data visualization. Prior to taking on an administrative role, Mark helped build an early systematic review and evidence synthesis service.

Karen Gutzman, MLIS, MA serves as the Head of the Research Assessment and Communications Department at Galter Health Sciences Library & Learning Center at Northwestern University where she develops, supports, and implements porgrams that increase awareness about digial scholarship and issues in the digital environment among faculty, researchers, and students at Feinberg School of Medicine. Gutzman's is particularly interested in using information visualization to facilitate stronger comprehension of data in the assessment process using tools such as VOSViewer, Science of Science Tool, Gephi, Excel, and Tableau.

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