Text logo that says MLA 2021 Virtual Annual Conference Connect to the future


MLA 2021 Virtual Featured Speakers

Opening Keynote With Susan Banks

Wednesday, October 13, 2021
9:00 – 10:00 AM          

The Future Can’t Wait: New Fuel for Post-Pandemic Libraries 

As librarians, we know the public tends to assume that libraries don’t or can’t change quickly.  We also know that nothing could be further from the truth.  Everything that’s happened, from COVID-19 to efforts to dismantle systemic racism have shaken libraries to their core and are asking us to rebuild what we do on new foundation.  We’ll take an interactive tour around the changes that the last year plus have brought to libraries and library practice and talk about what we know waits just around the corner for our libraries and our communities. 

About Susan Banks:

Susan Banks, Acting Deputy Secretary, Commissioner of Libraries and State Librarian for the Pennsylvania Department of Education was previously the Director of Library Development for the Office of Commonwealth Libraries.  She holds a master’s degree in Library and Information Science from Kent State University. Previously, in her positions at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Multnomah County OR and public libraries in Kentucky and Ohio, she was responsible for operational leadership and the development of wide-ranging partnerships and programs with a focus on user-centered service design.  Before her career in libraries, Banks worked in the community arts as the director of the statewide assembly of local arts agencies in Ohio and enjoyed a 20-year career in professional theatre.

Wednesday Afternoon Keynote With Jewell Parker Rhodes

Wednesday, October 13, 2021 
3:30 – 4:30 PM

Building Connections and Empowering Youth

Dr. Jewell Parker Rhodes advocates for equity, inclusion, and an end to racism and racial bias. She will share her work and discuss how character-driven stories and "empowered voices" rooted in self-love and compassion lay the foundation for a brighter future for our youth. Dr. Rhodes will also discuss the diversity of books as a civil rights frontier and the power of librarians to help children draw connections and unify us all.

About Dr. Jewell Parker Rhodes

Dr. Jewell Parker Rhodes is an award-winning and New York Times bestselling author and educator for both youth and adults. She is the author of six books for children including the New York Times bestsellers Ghost Boys, which has won over 30 honors and awards, and Black Brother, Black Brother. Her other books include Towers Falling, the celebrated Louisiana Girls Trilogy: Ninth Ward, Sugar, and Bayou Magic, and the forthcoming novel Paradise on Fire.

Jewell is the author of six adult novels: Voodoo Dreams, Magic City, Douglass’ Women, Season, Moon, and Hurricane, as well as the memoir Porch Stories: A Grandmother’s Guide to Happiness, and two writing guides, Free Within Ourselves: Fiction Lessons for Black Authors and The African American Guide to Writing and Publishing Non-Fiction. 

She has won the American Book Award, the Black Caucus of the American Library Award for Literary Excellence, a Coretta Scott King Honor Award, and the Jane Addams Peace Association Book Award.

Jewell has visited hundreds of schools across the country and is a regular speaker at colleges and conferences. The driving force behind all of Jewell’s work is to inspire social justice, equality, and environmental stewardship.

Jewell is the Founding Artistic Director of the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing and Narrative Studies Professor and Virginia G. Piper Endowed Chair at Arizona State University. Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she  currently lives in Seattle. 

Thursday Morning Keynote With Dan Cable

Thursday, October 14, 2021
9:00 – 10:00 AM                         

Becoming Exceptional

Each of us already has a version of ourselves that is uniquely outstanding—all we have to do is access it. In this session, we will look at the science of how we can get there more often, and help others do the same. Our discussion will focus on how we can discover their best possible self, and unlock our potential. We also will discuss how to energize people and improve our social relationships using the power of gratitude and celebrating strengths. Finally, we will discuss crafting our jobs and our lives so that they feel whole, meaningful, and alive.

About Dan Cable:

Dan Cable is Professor of Organisational Behaviour at London Business School. Dan’s research and teaching focus on employee engagement, change, organizational culture, and leadership mindset. Dan is Shortlisted for the 2019 Thinkers50 Talent Award, and selected for the 2018 Thinkers50 Radar List. The Academy of Management has twice honored Dan with “Best article” awards, and The Academy of Management Perspectives ranked Dan in the “Top 25 most influential management scholars.”

Dan’s newest book is Exceptional, published September 2020. Alive at Work: The Neuroscience of Helping Your People Love What They Do appeared in 2018, and his first book was Change to Strange.  He also has edited two books and published more than 50 articles in top scientific journals.  His most recent research was published in Harvard Business Review, Sloan Management Review, the Academy of Management Journal, and Administrative Science Quarterly.  This research recently has been featured in the Economist, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, CNBC, New York Times, and Business Week.       

Thursday Closing Keynote With Bill Baker

Thursday, October 14, 2021
4:00 – 5:00 PM

The Power of Storytelling

Of all the communication tools available, storytelling has always been one of the most powerful. Throughout history, leaders have always used storytelling to connect people to ideas, to each other, and to a vision of the future they want to be a part of and make real. In this engaging and enlightening keynote presentation, Strategic Storyteller Bill Baker will explain how we can use storytelling to improve the impact of our communications and, with that, our ability to persuade, influence and inspire key stakeholders. Bill will walk us through the same fundamentals of effective storytelling he teaches to executives and directors of Fortune 500 companies and non-profit organizations all over the world.

About Bill Baker:

Since Bill first learned to talk, he has been telling stories: to grandparents, teachers, friends, that nice lady at the grocery store…anyone who would listen. Early on, Bill recognized the profound impact that stories had on people, as well as the fact that different stories would generate different responses. This penchant for storytelling continued into his professional career as Bill started using stories in his day-to-day communications with colleagues and clients. And so, with storytelling in his soul, Bill founded BB&Co Strategic Storytelling to help companies and their leaders bring more meaning, focus and productivity to their work and their workforce, using the power of storytelling to do so.

After earning his Bachelor of Arts from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine (and studying in Germany and France), Bill spent the first 10 years of his career working in New York City managing global accounts for multinational agencies such as Grey and Saatchi & Saatchi. He moved to Vancouver in 1998, becoming the Managing Director of DDB Worldwide’s office there, responsible for its financial and creative performance, as well as the 150 to 200 employees working in it. Bill was also part of the Global Planning Group of DDB Worldwide, where he helped redefine and deploy the suite of strategic planning tools used in the agency’s 200-plus offices.

There is barely a category of industry that Bill and the BB&Co team have not worked in, having collaborated with respected clients of all shapes and sizes, including GE, Coca-Cola, Relais & Châteaux, Cisco, Prudential, Hilton, Pfizer, KPMG, Travel Alberta, CPA Canada, Canada Beef, Thayer Leader Development Group at West Point, Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport, University of California Irvine, and the University of British Columbia. Bill is a regular presence on the public speaking circuit, an avid blogger, and sits on the Board of Directors for the Alzheimer Society of BC. He is also a fervent skier, an enthusiastic traveler, and (admittedly) a Netflix addict.


Uniting the Michigan Library Community

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

Friends of Michigan Libraries logo