Get ready to vote! The YALSA election runs from March 13 through April 5, and to help you be an informed voter, we’re sharing interviews with each of the 2017 YALSA Governance and 2019 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.

Today we have an interview with Kathy Ishizuka.

YALSA Governance: Board Member-at-Large (Three Year Term) Candidate Kathy Ishizuka, Executive Editor, School Library Journal

Q: What best qualifies you for being a member of the YALSA Board?

A: I offer board experience, currently serving my second term as a trustee of the Freedom to Read Foundation and have been involved with managing budgets and strategic planning. I’ve also served on the board of the National Forum on Libraries & Teens. I was appointed to a two-year term on the strategic planning committee of All Souls, a large Unitarian Universalist church in New York City, helping form a five-year plan. But my unique experience, which I would bring to YALSA, would be my coverage of a broad range of issues that affect kids and teens in my work reporting on and determining editorial strategy for SLJ.

Q: Talk about the experiences and expertise you’re bringing to the position in terms of leadership, nonprofit or association governance, and strategic thinking.

A: I’m especially excited about program and partnership work. I conceived and executed a partnership between SLJ and We Need Diverse Books as well as our Librarian of the Year Award program, which I continue to administer. YALSA has had successful partnerships and I’d be keen in assisting that work. I’m especially proud of our bloggers, which I manage for the magazine. I brought on “100 Scope Notes,” “Teen Librarian Toolbox,” and “The Classroom Bookshelf” and these and other relationships in the field have informed my perspective and would enrich my board participation.

My editorial projects include a survey and accompanying coverage of self-censorship among school librarians last year; organizing an ongoing webcast series on technology in coordination with ISTE. On the event side, I conceived and coordinated the program for the Library Journal/SLJ Maker Workshop, a professional learning series now in it’s fourth session. Professional learning is such an important part of the overarching mission and there is much good work to do here. I strive to model the learning with my own participation in the Executive Leadership Program of the Asian American Journalists Association, for example, as well as the Education Writers Association. Currently I’ll learn alongside the team as we engage training in data journalism this spring.

Q: How do you envision furthering the mission of YALSA as a Member of the Board?

A: I’ve been excited about the work of the organization thus far; my experience covering technology integration dovetails with that aspect of YALSA’s objectives for one. And I expect to make a contribution there, in addition to providing guidance on helping YALSA amplify its mission in the media and to the greater community beyond libraries.

Given my professional record supporting diverse books and covering service to underserved populations and with an upcoming issue about equity, I will bring a career-long dedication toward an equitable and just society to the board. The new organizational goals of increasing cultural competency in pursuit of equitable library services present an exciting challenge. Having begun developing programming around culturally-relevant making in my day job, I’m excited to contribute toward this goal on the organizational level.

Q: What are some ways that being a member of the YALSA Board can help you serve as an even better connector to helping libraries become thriving learning environments for/with teens?

The experience of the board will help me better communicate as a reporter not just the great work that libraries are doing, but the aspirational goals for the profession as YALSA has set forth in the ambitious Organizational Plan. YALSA also makes clear the challenges to achieving these goals, and I look forward to helping frame and present this for ALA and the greater community. These are challenging social and political times, yet they present a unique opportunity, I believe, to elevate the role of libraries to engage our youth. Together we can maintain an inclusive, equitable culture as a priority goal, with libraries as a key contributor.

Q: What about YALSA’s Organizational Plan excites you most and why?

A: The member-focused initiatives of professional development and advocacy training. These present very specific action points that directly benefit librarians and provide them with skills to advance in their own careers as well as facilitate “transformation of teen library services,” per the plan.

Q: How would you embed the concept of “teens first” in the work of the board?

A: Bridging student-initiated activities and learning that occurs in school with the out-of-school space would be one opportunity. Always looking to build bridges between school and public librarians.

Q: Why should YALSA members choose you to be a member of the board of directors?

A: I offer my experience, perspective, also as someone outside the library profession, and enthusiasm to serve the organization. Thank you for your consideration.

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