MLA 2022 Annual Conference Featured Speakers

Opening Keynote with The Civility Project: Bridging the Divide: Civility in a Time of Unrest

The Civility Project logoCelebrated journalists Nolan Finley and Stephen Henderson have been longtime friends, despite their different perspectives on pretty much everything. The one thing they agree on is the importance of their friendship—which includes a healthy dose of disagreement and mutual respect.

“It never occurred to us that we couldn’t be friends because we disagree,” says Nolan. “We’ve never avoided conversation, we never pulled punches, we sort of enjoyed the mix-up.”

Americans used to engage in civil conversation with people of opposing viewpoints – enjoying the banter and debate. Today, many Americans believe they can’t be friends with people whose politics are different. The Civility Project seeks to bring people of opposing viewpoints together for healthy disagreement, personal interactions and constructive conversations.

“If we reach the point where we dehumanize the people we disagree with, anything is possible,” Stephen says. “We must step back and learn to talk to people as people, rather than political adversaries."

Nolan Finley headshot

Nolan Finley began his newspaper career as a copy boy at The Detroit News while a senior in college. After a brief stint with the Jackson Citizen Patriot, he returned to The News as a reporter, covering the administration of Mayor Coleman A. Young. He’s been the newspaper’s City Editor, Business Editor, Politics Editor and Deputy Managing Editor. In 2000, he was named Editorial Page Editor, where he directs the expression of the newspaper’s editorial position on various national and local issues and writes a column in the Sunday newspaper. He graduated from both Schoolcraft College and Wayne State University and in 2012 was inducted into the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame. Finley is co-host of One Detroit on Detroit Public Television.



Stephen HendersonStephen Henderson is an American journalist who won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for commentary and the 2014 National Association of Black Journalists Journalist of the Year Award while writing for the Detroit Free Press. A native of Detroit, Stephen is a graduate of the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and the University of Michigan. Since 2015, he has been the host of “Detroit Today” on WDET. In 2020, he founded BridgeDetroit, where he serves as Executive Editor. He has worked for the Baltimore Sun, the Chicago Tribune, the Lexington Herald-Leader and Knight Ridder. Henderson is co-host of One Detroit and host of American Black Journal on Detroit Public Television.



Thursday All-Conference Session with Angela Hursh: How Will They Know? Make Sure Your Library’s Efforts to Bridge the Divide Get Noticed!

The work that your library does to make information, services, and technology accessible to everyone is extraordinary. But all that work is for naught if your community doesn’t know they can take advantage of it! This talk is packed with practical tips to successfully promote your library’s collection, services, and programs, even when you face staff and budget shortfalls. You’ll learn how to maximize digital platforms and reach community members who don’t have (or don’t want) internet access. And you’ll leave with a plan to work smarter by putting your time and available resources to the best use.

Angela HurshAngela Hursh’s background includes more than six years as the Content Team Leader for the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County and more than 20 years as an Emmy-award-winning broadcast television news journalist. Angela is passionate about library marketing and has expertise in collection marketing, strategy, public relations, email, and social media. She started the blog in 2015 with the goal of strengthening the library marketing industry through shared information. She is the current Manager of Engagement and Marketing for NoveList, a company dedicated to helping libraries reach readers with the books they want and need. In that role, she helps libraries create effective and engaging marketing, within budget and with a personalized approach.



Session Materials:



Friday Closing Keynote with Kent Oliver: Intellectual Freedom in a Time of Partisanship

Kent OliverKent Oliver recently retired as Director of Nashville Public Library (NPL) where he served from 2012 – 2022. Through his leadership, NPL expanded key programs to promote early reading, adult literacy, and digital learning. In June 2017, Library Journal and Gale named NPL Library of the Year.  NPL’s Votes for Women Room opened in 2020 which celebrates the passage of the 19th Amendment and voting rights.  In May 2012 NPL launched the nationally recognized I Read Banned Books campaign.

Hailing from Topeka, Kansas, Kent has also managed libraries in Kansas, Missouri, and Ohio. He was Executive Director of the Stark County District Library in Canton, Ohio, which won a 2009 National Medal for Museum and Library Service.

Kent is a three-time President of the Freedom to Read Foundation and has chaired the Intellectual Freedom Committee of the American Library Association (ALA). He received the Stark County Ohio Bar Association’s Liberty Bell Award for Defense of the First Amendment. His writings on intellectual freedom and defense of the First Amendment have been published in Forbes, The Costco Connection, The Tennessean, and more.

Kent belongs to the Rotary Club of Nashville and serves on the advisory board for Southern Word. He is the incoming chair for Alignment Nashville which supports the education initiatives of the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools. In 2013, the Nashville Adult Literacy Council named him a Robert Chandler Ambassador. Kent lives in Nashville, Tennessee.


Uniting the Michigan Library Community

MLA is proud to partner with organizations serving the library community.

Friends of Michigan Libraries logo