Featured Speakers

MLA 2017 Featured Speakers

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Opening Keynote:


Manoush Zomorodi
Host & Managing Editor, WNYC’S Note to Self

Wednesday, October 18, 2017
9:00 – 10:15 a.m.


Manoush Zomorodi is the host and managing editor of Note to Self, “the tech show about being human,” from WNYC Studios.

Every week on her podcast, Manoush searches for answers to life’s digital quandaries through experiments and conversations with listeners and experts.

She has won numerous awards for her work including four from the New York Press Club. In 2014, the Alliance for Women in Media named her Outstanding Host. In spare moments, she tweets @manoushz or takes deep cleansing breaths.


Thursday Keynote Lunch:

Pat Wagner
Educator and Producer, Siera: Learn. Teach. Inspire.

Thursday, October 19, 2017
12:00 – 1:30 p.m.

Pat Wagner has been a trainer and consultant for libraries, academia, local government, and nonprofits since 1978. She has worked for libraries and library organizations in 47 states and Canada, from the smallest rural storefronts to among the largest urban public libraries and universities. Her focus is on the skills needed to support library productivity and positive workplace relationships. Topics of interest include leadership, supervision, marketing, project management, ethics, customer service, communication, and career development. She is a frequent speaker at state, regional, and national library conferences, including ALA, SLA, AALL, MLA, ACRL, and LLAMA.

Pat was certified as an arbitration judge in Colorado and has training and practical experience in community organizing and conflict management, including facilitating public meetings and helping groups make decisions. Her experience in politics include her running for Mayor of Denver in 1991. She lost. She was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago in a immigrant family and has firsthand experience with working with people from across the philosophical spectrum. She is known for good-humored and practical programs.

Connect with Pat @pat2pattern.


Closing Keynote:

Jack-LessenberryJack Lessenberry
Political Commentator, Michigan Radio, NPR

Friday, October 20, 2017
11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Jack Lessenberry, the head of the journalism faculty at Wayne State University, is WUOM-FM's senior news analyst and delivers daily essays and commentary on important Michigan issues.

Lessenberry is a former foreign correspondent for and executive national editor of The Detroit News, during which time he reported from more than 40 countries. He has also worked for other newspapers in Michigan, Tennessee and Ohio, and was Editor-in-Chief of both Detroit Monthly and Corporate Detroit magazines.

He provides regular radio commentary and occasional analysis for other television stations, and won a National Emmy award in 1994 for one of two Frontline documentaries he helped report and produce on Dr. Jack Kevorkian. Lessenberry was named Journalist of the Year in 2002 by the metropolitan Detroit chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Connect with Jack @JackLessenberry.


Spotlight Presenters:

Nicole_CookeNicole Cooke, PhD 
Assistant Professor and MS/LIS Program Director, The iSchool at Illinois

Thursday, October 19, 2017
10:45 – 11:45 a.m.

Nicole A. Cooke is an assistant professor and MS/LIS Program Director at the School of Information Sciences at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, having graduated from Rutgers University with a PhD in communication, information, and library studies in 2012. Her research interests include human information behavior, particularly in an online context, eLearning, and diversity and social justice in librarianship.

Cooke is the author of the book, Information Services to Diverse Populations: Developing Culturally Competent Library Professionals (Libraries Unlimited, 2016), co-editor of the book, Teaching for Justice: Implementing Social Justice in the LIS Classroom (Litwin Books/Library Juice Press, 2017), and co-author of the book, Instructional Strategies and Techniques for Information Professionals (Chandos Press, 2012).

She is the 2017 recipient of the American Library Association (ALA) Achievement in Library Diversity Research Award and the 2016 recipient of the ALA Equality Award and the Larine Y. Cowan Make a Difference Award for Teaching and Mentoring in Diversity.



Freedom House Detroit
Featuring Deborah Drennan, Executive Director

Friday, October 20, 2017
9:00 – 10:00 a.m.

Freedom House Detroit is a place for new beginnings. It is a temporary home for indigent survivors of persecution from around the world who are seeking asylum in the United States and Canada. Their mission is to uphold a fundamental American principle, one inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty, providing safety for those “yearning to breathe free.” In 2012 they became a formal partner in the Northern Tier Anti-Trafficking Consortium servicing victims of human trafficking.

Guided by their belief that all persons deserve to live free from oppression and to be treated with justice, compassion and dignity, Freedom House Detroit offers a continuum of care and services to their residents as well as to other refugees in need.

Follow them @FreedomHouseDetroit.