News - MLA
Written by Deborah E. Mikula, MLA Executive Director   
Thursday, July 11, 2019 12:00 AM

Notes From the Executive Director

Deborah E. Mikula headshot

A New Face, A New Voice

Two weeks ago, I took my first step into the MLA office and my first thought: I'm ready, on day one, minute one, to share my knowledge and expertise gained over the past 35+ years with you. It makes me incredibly happy to step in and step up for MLA! It has been a whirlwind two weeks so far, to be ingrained in the inner workings of this organization, introduced to some very passionate and extraordinary librarians, and to continue to build on relationships with esteemed colleagues and bring some new ones into the mix. Without hesitation, I’ve found my new “home.” 

My life’s work has been dedicated to supporting the cultural environment here in Lansing, throughout Michigan and in our nation. My belief is that by empowering our cultural leaders and increasing the capacity of our institutions to plan and envision their future, our collective impact will make a profound difference in all of the communities where we live, work and visit. While libraries may have their challenges, they have the unique ability to act as cultural hubs and transform our communities into the vibrant, thriving, and dynamic places that our residents want and deserve.  

Collective impact and collaboration are two very important concepts that I take very seriously in my work and I’ve built my entire life around ingraining these into everything I do. A membership organization is made up of individuals and organizations who work independently, but when they come together for a united cause, they have the opportunity to affect something larger than their own personal goals. I think it was the philosopher Aristotle who first coined the phrase, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” and this is what MLA is all about. We are stronger together! When we talk together, when we plan together, when we work together, when we act together – we find common ground to affect and change larger challenges and what matters the most. It’s amazing the impact that we can have and what we can accomplish when we’re in it together!  And yes, you will be seeing the hashtag #StrongerTogether a lot. 

So what is first? What will take up some early energy? We have a new strategic plan to write, internal policies to review and update, and relationships to build. Over the summer, I will be headed out on the road to visit libraries throughout Michigan and hear your thoughts on what you want MLA to concentrate on in the next 3-5 years. It is important to hear your thoughts and to incorporate them into our long-range plans. 

I have already spent quality time meeting and talking with individual staff members, board members, and committee members and have literally taken hundreds of pages of notes to capture their vision, values and ideas, soon to be incorporated into the realm of my thinking. All perspectives are welcome: I need to know where we’ve come from, where we are now, and where we are headed. I am a true believer that when everyone contributes, when all ideas are on the table, then and only then can we mold and shape our ideas into the most impactful programs and services for the organization.

While I am the new face and the new voice for MLA, I am supported by a dedicated staff and Board that has an incredible vision for the health and well-being of this organization. I have also already experienced the commitment of work group members and heard the pride in our members’ voices when it comes to being affiliated with MLA. We have much to discover and do together. I am at your service.

My door is always open so don’t hesitate to connect, share an accomplishment, ask for help with what challenges you, or just introduce yourself.  If you are in the Lansing area, stop by – the coffee is brewing. Or feel free to connect by email at [email protected] or phone at (517) 394-2774 x224.


Debbie Signatiure


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