Get ready to vote! The YALSA election runs from March 15 through April 22, and to help you be an informed voter, we’re sharing interviews with each of the 2016 YALSA Governance and 2018 Selection Committee candidates.

Today we’ll hear from a candidate for Board Director-at-large. YALSA Board members serve three-year terms, during which they jointly determine YALSA’s policies, programs, and strategic direction, in accordance with YALSA’s bylaws. They attend both virtual and in-person meetings and serve as liaisons to YALSA’s committee chairs and members. A full description of Board duties and responsibilities can be found here.

Full biographical information on all of the candidates can be found on the sample ballot and YALSA Election FAQs here.

Today we have an interview with Kafi Kumasi.

Name and current position
Kafi Kumasi. Associate Professor of Library and Information Science at Wayne State University, Detroit, MI

What best qualifies you for being a YALSA Board Member?
I have served in the YALSA community in several capacities including being the current chair of the research committee and having served as an advisory board member for the Journal of Research on Young Adults and Libraries. In addition, I co-authored the Futures Report with committed YALSA leaders including SandraHughes-Hassell who is running for YALSA President this term. These experiences have helped me better understand the organization from a structural standpoint as well as put me at the center of conversations about what the future of library services for and with teens might look like.

How can being a YALSA Board Member help make a difference with issues teens may be struggling with?
Every teen needs an advocate who can lend voice to their unique experiences, identities, and needs. Given my social location as an African American female who’s research deals with connecting youth of color to libraries, I believe I can shed some light on the issues that teens of color, particularly African American teens may be dealing with.
What are some ways that being a member of a YALSA governance committee can help serve as an even better connector to helping libraries become thriving learning environments for teens?

Large professional organizations such as YALSA use their stature to help shape national and local policy relative to teens and literacy. They can also provide valuable professional development resources for practitioners who work directly with teens. As a member of the YALSA’s governance, I would seize any number of opportunities that this role affords and look to support models of practice that are culturally responsive and supported with appropriate staffing and resources.
Share a recent example(s) where you made a shift to better focus on the current needs of teens.

As a parent of two teens, I am constantly making shifts in how I view the world through their eyes, whether it be learning the latest app that they use, or helping them navigate the complex terrain of adolescent racial identity in a society riddled with racial dilemmas.

Why should YALSA members choose you to be a member of the governance committee?
I am committed to furthering YALSA’s strategic agenda to connect teens with libraries in more organic ways that reflect their spheres of learning and influence. I have been working on numerous YALSA committee to help actualize the research agenda and would be glad to continue this line of work.

About Kelly Czarnecki

Kelly Czarnecki is a Teen Librarian at ImaginOn with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. She is a member of the YALSA blog advisory board.

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