How did you get into doing your chosen art form/business/career, and how long have you been involved in it?
I was working for a community arts organization in Oklahoma City when the theater director there suggested I apply for a position as a Children’s specialist with the Public Library. I got the job and have never looked back. I have always been drawn to the following qualities:
organizations that foster creativity, both in their employees and in their communities
organizations that can be a catalyst for community change
the idea of self-driven knowledge & access to information and ideas
I found that the Public Library can be all of these things. I feel honored and inspired by my profession.
What inspires your creativity?
The people & places around me. For example, I am inspired by the community I currently live in. It is a city that had its expected future taken away by the decline of the steel industry, and now it is struggling towards a re-birth and a re-envisioning of itself. You can see pockets of change in the communities. That inspires me to lead my institution in a way that can enable the positive change. I see community gardens popping up, decrepit houses being re-painted, and people taking their communities back in to their own hands instead waiting for someone to rescue them. I am inspired by the stories of the people I meet, and their challenges and success. My employees inspire me to be a better leader, too. And my family inspires my joy, my playfulness and the desire to leave them a legacy. It is oversimplified to say this, but I think my job is to enable people’s ability to make their lives better.
What challenges have you overcome?
At a basic level, I had to overcome the narrative we too often learn to tell ourselves- that I can’t do it, that I’m not worthy, I’m not the right (fill in the blank). We all to have fight to make that narrative die, so it isn’t a challenge unique to me. I struggle with the challenge of staying true to the “urge to do good”. Making sure you are driven by a desire to bring about a common good is important to what I do – you have to push aside ego and pettiness and fear.
And fear of failure can be a challenge for everyone. Sometimes you’ve got to just close your eyes and free fall in to a situation and hope that your parachute opens.
What motivates you to keep going?
Above everything, my husband - he’s my best friend and he takes care of my other two motivators– our kids. I love my family. Also, music, literature, paintings & art in all of its forms – the act of creating something is amazing and it makes me believe rebirth is always possible. That can carry over to communities and institutions, too. I think that’s why you always see community murals crop up in neighborhoods that are “coming back”. The human urge to create something new and reflect our experience is an innate motivator.
If you could be any food item, what would you be?
Coffee. Does that count? Or chocolate. Something with caffeine.
What current project(s) are you working on, and when and where can we come see your latest project(s)?
I’m currently the director of a 16 branch library system.