The Free Library Launches Search for New Director

By Administrator RSS Thu, April 29, 2021

The Free Library of Philadelphia has begun actively seeking candidates for its new President and Director. The search process is being conducted by a 22-member Search Committee, with assistance from executive search firm Isaacson, Miller.

"The Search Committee is committed to a process that is inclusive of staff and stakeholders who care about the future of the Free Library. We are confident that this process will help us name a new President and Director who can tackle the challenges of leading a large and diverse organization while innovating new ways to provide Philadelphians with resources that can enhance their lives," said Folasade A. Olanipekun-Lewis, Co-Chair of the Search Committee and incoming Chair of the Board of Trustees.

The Search Committee is comprised of 22 members gathered from Free Library staff, the Board of Trustees, the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation Board of Directors, Library executives, and union members, as well as representation from Friends of the Free Library and the City of Philadelphia. The Committee is co-chaired by Robert Heim, a member of the Board of Trustees and the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation Board of Directors, and Folasade Olanipekun-Lewis, incoming chair of the Board of Trustees.

The committee has worked with Isaacson, Miller to include further insight from Free Library staff and stakeholders through nine listening sessions conducted this past February. More than 50 individuals participated in the sessions to offer insight into what they would like to see in the Free Library’s next Director. Invitations to participate were extended to members of DC 33 and DC 47 Unions, as well as non-represented and executive staff, Friends groups, and City Council members.

Isaacson, Miller was selected by the Search Committee in January to assist in the nationwide search for a new Free Library of Philadelphia President and Director. Isaacson, Miller is an executive search firm with almost 40 years of experience recruiting leaders for mission-driven organizations. It has performed successful searches for more than 70 libraries as well as for institutions including the American Library Association, NEA Foundation, Temple University, University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, Haverford College, Boston Public Schools, District of Columbia Public Charter School Board, and the Council of the Great City Schools. The firm also has a strong track record of recruiting from a diverse pool of candidates, with women and people of color making up 54 percent of their placements.

Isaacson, Miller will conduct the search, check references, and narrow down the list of candidates to present to the Search Committee. From there, the Search Committee will select two or three candidates for consideration by the Free Library of Philadelphia Board of Trustees, who make the final decision. In order to protect the privacy of all potential candidates, confidentiality is of the utmost importance to Isaacson, Miller, and the Search Committee.

"We look forward to speaking with a wide slate of leaders and innovators from across the country and working together to find a candidate who embodies our mission to advance literacy, guide learning, and inspire curiosity, while approaching all aspects of the role through a lens of equity and inclusivity," Heim said.

The position profile for the Free Library President and Director is now available to view on Isaacson, Miller's website. The screening process and interviews will take place through the spring and summer. The Free Library Board of Trustees expects to announce a new Director by September 2021.

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