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 the candidates for YALSA Fiscal Officer. The Fiscal Officer serves a three-year term, and is a member of YALSA’s Executive Committee, along with the President, President-Elect, Past President, Secretary, and Councilor. The primary responsibility of the Fiscal Officer is to work with the Board, Financial Advancement Committee and Executive Director to ensure the fiscal health of the association through proper financial oversight so that there are adequate resources for the organization to fulfill its mission. The Fiscal Officer also has all the normal duties of a Board member. A full description of the Fiscal Officer’s duties and responsibilities can be found here.

Today we have an interview with Clara N. Bohrer.

YALSA Governance: Fiscal Officer Candidate Clara N. Bohrer, Director, West Bloomfield Township Public Library (MI)

Q: What best qualifies you for being Fiscal Officer?

A: I have significant finance and budgetary experience from both my work life and positions held within ALA and PLA. Through ALA/PLA committee work, I have gained hands-on experience and a thorough understanding of the ALA financial structure and the operating agreement, how divisions fit in and are impacted by that structure, and most importantly how divisions are real assets to ALA and should be recognized as such.

I have served as chair of ALA’s Budget and Analysis Review Committee and as a member of ALA’s Finance and Audit Committee. For several years, I have served as chair of PLA’s Budget and Finance Committee, which provides me with strong division-level finance and budgeting experience. Also, as the director of an independent library with taxing authority, I work every day to build financial resources, align them with identified priorities and maximize every dollar to the benefit of the community. I will work to do the same in my role as YALSA’s fiscal officer.

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: Within ALA, I have served on the ALSC Board of Directors and two terms on the PLA Board of Directors. I am a past-president of PLA and of my state chapter, the Michigan Library Association. In my work life, I serve on the boards of several community nonprofits and a local library. I also serve as the Treasurer of my local Chamber of Commerce.

As a member of various boards and as a library director, I have extensive experience with strategic and financial planning. I have seen what happens when a board is working at the operational level rather than the strategic level—focus on vision and mission may be lost, goals are not necessarily achieved and impact can be diluted. As a library director, I work to ensure the Board of my institution operates on the strategic level, which contributes to our ongoing progress and success. I will apply this principle to my work as a member of the YALSA Board and use strategic thinking and planning to benefit of our division, its members and teens within our communities.

Q: How do you envision furthering the mission of YALSA as Fiscal Officer?

A: YALSA’s new Organizational Plan and accompanying implementation plan provide a clearly defined path forward. YALSA’s leadership and members spent a significant amount of time and effort developing this plan, which is based on findings from YALSA’s report, The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action.

As a YALSA Board member, I would embrace the Organizational Plan and work to successfully implement it. The Organization Plan by its very nature furthers YALSA’s mission. As fiscal officer, my priority will be to help build sufficient financial resources to carry out the plan, properly aligning those resources to achieve our desired outcomes. In addition, YALSA’s current business plan appears to be due for revision and I will work within the existing structure to carry out that needed revision.

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?

A: As a Board member, I see myself as an ambassador for YALSA, its mission, and its program and services, particularly within my sphere of relationships. I would share relevant information with my colleagues, libraries, policy makers, etc., at every opportunity and when assigned to do so. Information about best practices, trends, research, success stories and other YALSA projects that support efforts to transform and elevate teen services would be, in my mind, particularly important to share. I would encourage members to take advantage of opportunities that exist within YALSA and promote applying for awards, grants, stipends and scholarships; volunteering to work on a project/committee; taking advantage of webinars; and other professional development opportunities. Our division has so much to offer members—information, experiences and tools that can directly and indirectly impact their effectiveness to move towards a transformation of teen services within their library.

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

A: With its Organizational Plan, YALSA has positioned itself to have an even greater impact on library service for 21st century teens. I definitely see YALSA on the leading edge of transforming teen services in this country. The challenges to serving teens have never been more daunting, and meeting the needs of a diverse group of teens can seem overwhelming. The Organizational Plan delineates a clear direction and well-defined path to move forward. I find this very exciting.

The priority that focuses on advocacy to policy makers at all levels, to increase support for teen library services, is particularly exciting to me. I spend a good deal of time as a library director on advocacy activities and have experienced first-hand success, particularly at the local/state level. The outcome of the Organizational Plan that calls for 100% of YALSA members to undertake advocacy efforts can build a corps of library and teen advocates along with a momentum that can have an impact nationwide. This especially excites me because of the potential for widespread and long-term results.

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

A: I found this question very interesting. Isn’t this a given for each Board member and thus the group as a whole? I would think every member of the Board, without prodding, holds this concept in mind at all times and would apply it to all their work within YALSA. I would. If needed, the concept can be reinforced through Board orientation and periodic reminders.

Keeping the concept of “teens first” in mind is most crucial when the Board deliberates actions on proposed initiatives. YALSA has wisely embedded the teens first mindset into the Organizational Plan’s intended impact statements. These serve as a screening mechanism. Proposed initiatives can be judged against intended impact statements to determine if they do indeed put teens first and therefore are appropriate for YALSA to undertake.

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

A: I bring significant governance and financial experiences in both my professional work life and within ALA to the board. As a long-time advocate for youth, I will bring experience and expertise, passion and integrity, and an unwavering dedication to YALSA’s mission, working strategically and putting “teens first.”

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