2020 YALSA Election: An Interview with President-Elect Candidate Kelly Czarnecki

Get ready to vote in this year’s YALSA election! To help you make informed decisions, we’re sharing interviews with each of the 2020 YALSA Governance candidates. Voting will take place from March 9 through April 1. To help you further prepare for the election, be sure to check out a sample ballot!

The President-Elect serves a three-year term — first as the President-Elect, then as the President during the second year, and finally as the Immediate Past President during the third year. The President-Elect is a member of the Executive Committee alongside the President, Immediate Past President, Division Councilor, Fiscal Officer, Secretary, and Executive Director. The Executive Committee works with its ALA counterpart to build ties between the two organizations and helps with the fiscal oversight of YALSA.  A full description of the President-Elect’s duties and responsibilities can be found here .You can learn more about ALA elections here.

What is your name and current position? Kelly Czarnecki, Teen Loft Manager at ImaginOn

What best qualifies you for being President-Elect?
As an accomplished librarian, I offer a track record of success in developing, implementing, and managing new programs to attract targeted audiences and serve the community. This includes rolling out multiple specialized programs to reach and serve teens for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library in North Carolina.

From a leadership perspective, I excel in managing and developing employees, facilitating career advancement opportunities while training them in polices, processes, systems, tools, and customer service protocols.

I feel these skills translate well to the position of President-Elect in leading others and the organization to continuing to be relevant for teens. As a strong advocate on a local level, I will continue to make the needs of teens and library workers known through the organization and the public at large.

Some of the highlights of my involvement with ALA and YALSA include:

  • Serving as a content expert for the YALSA Programming HQ
  • Serving on the YALSA Programming Guidelines Development Task Force
  • Serving on the YALSA Advisory Board
  • Serving on several YALSA committees including Technology, Gaming, and Outreach to YAs with Special Needs
  • Serving a term as an ALA Councilor-At-Large

Being an active member of both ALA and YALSA has helped me to better understand the structure of the organization and give voice to issues that are important in working with teens which will be needed for the President-Elect position.

I am also an employee of a shelter serving families experiencing homelessness. I have worked at a shelter longer than I’ve been a librarian. My work with these non-profit agencies definitely gives me needed insight to challenges that teens face and better prepares me as a President-Elect of YALSA.

How would you embed the concept of “teens first” in the work of the board?
Making sure that we’re including their perspective as much as we can in the decisions that are made and the content delivered. If we’re not getting a lot of participation in the ways that we’re trying to solicit their opinions, then what can we do differently? I’d like to continue to grow opportunities for them to be an active part of YALSA and help drive the agenda—not just give feedback and ideas. Being a part of trainings, online content, writing opportunities, research, and more to share their voices!

What is the most pressing issue facing YALSA today?
If I was asked this question before COVID-19, I might have answered differently. I think because so much is in a state of flux right now with quarantines, job loss, and other hardships, we’re going to see shifts in the organization and in the needs of teens in ways that can’t necessarily be predicted, but that we need to anticipate. The mission of supporting library staff in alleviating the challenges teens face is relevant now more than ever. Being a viable resource as the landscape continues to unfold is an area YALSA is very strong in and will continue to do so no matter what the challenge(s) may be.

What else would you like voters to know about you?
That I’m grateful for your support. I thank you for the trust you’ve given me if elected, and I care about how we can make YALSA a better place for you and the teens that we serve.

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