The Board of Trustees of the Free Library of Philadelphia is pleased to announce the appointment of Leslie M. Walker as the Interim Director of the Free Library.
This appointment comes after a month-long search process conducted by a committee of Free Library staff, Trustee members, Foundation Board members, and a City representative. Walker was recommended to the full Board of Trustees and received unanimous approval.
"At this time, the Free Library of Philadelphia needs a leader who can listen and hear the concerns of staff, can ensure continued operations of the Library with a focus on safety, and can bring the Free Library community together. We are pleased to present Leslie Walker as this leader," said Pamela Dembe, Chair of the Board of Trustees.
Leslie holds a BA in Urban Studies and Sociology from Rutgers and a Master of Science in Training and Organizational Development from Saint Joseph’s University.
Walker has served as the Chief of Staff for the Free Library for the past three years. Before that, she gained a wealth of experience in the nonprofit sector across the Philadelphia region. Her commitment to serving communities furthest from opportunity is clear from her work in children’s services at such organizations as Germantown Settlement, Tabor Children’s Services, and Philadelphia Safe and Sound. Her experience in community service and development has been honed over her career and includes running community impact projects for On the Table Philly, the Viola Alley Connector Project, and most recently as Vice President for Community Learning and Visitor Experience and Programs at the Please Touch Museum. At the Please Touch Museum, Walker also developed the managerial and operational skills she brought with her to the Free Library when she joined in March of 2017.
I am honored to have been named Interim Director, and I look forward to working with staff to ensure we focus on the health and safety of our staff and everyone in this city who relies on the Library for all of the vital resources we provide, while viewing all of our work through a lens of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Walker said. This is a new chapter for the Library and I will move forward with great deliberation and transparency.
As Chief of Staff, Walker was instrumental in the initiation of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion work through the Board of Trustees committee as well as the staff DEI committee. Leslie represents the Library on the City of Philadelphia’s Racial Equity and HR Policy teams. She provided management oversight for executive leadership, including communications, customer service, and the coordination and facilitation of relations across Library divisions and City Administration.
In July, Walker ably stepped into the role of Emergency Interim Director of the Free Library. Since doing so, she has spent time listening in order to begin a healing process. She visits multiple neighborhood libraries weekly and is managing and directing Library operations, including the opening of libraries to the public with a priority on the safety of staff and patrons. She is working to establish Student Access Centers in concert with the School District of Philadelphia and City Administration, while continuing to work with the DEI consultancy group, DiverseForce.
Walker will serve until the appointment of a permanent Director. A nation-wide search is currently underway and is anticipated to take approximately six months to a year.