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Spring Institute: People First

Featured Speakers

Opening Keynote With Shannon Martin: Centering Community in Public Engagement

Shannon Martin Thursday, March 19, 2020
9:30 – 10:30am
Room: Michigan I & II

Is your library a centering place for the community? Shannon will share a vision for how your library can be a catalyst for change in the emergent centering movement. Libraries are rapidly developing into spaces that promote free and safe expressions of philosophies and thought. From Aboriginal/Indigenous Land Acknowledgements to Drag Queen Reading Hours, libraries as we once knew them to be are now becoming the vibrant nurturing grounds for agents of change.

Shannon Martin has been the director of the Ziibiwing Museum and Cultural Center for many years and was a member of the Convening Great Lakes Culture Keepers, a consortium of tribal library, archive, and museum professionals from across the Great Lakes. She has worked with various tribes in Michigan with the Native American Graves and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) and has worked closely with the University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Garden around issues of seed and food sovereignty. Shannon Martin is a member of the Gun Lake Tribe of Southwestern Michigan and is a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community. She is also the author of a NAGPRA themed comic book.

Literary Awards Lunch Featuring Cori DoerrfeldCori Doerrfeld

Thursday, March 19, 2020
12:00 – 1:15pm
Room: Michigan I & II

We are excited to announce our 2020 Literary Awards Winners and honor books during Thursday's lunch celebration of our youth literary awards. Special guest Cori Doerrfeld, author and illustrator of the 2019 Mitten Award winner The Rabbit Listened, will be joining us to receive her award.

Thursday Afternoon Keynote With Heather Wood-Gramza: Effective Change Making at Every Level

Thursday, March 19, 2020
4:30 – 5:30pm
Room: Michigan I & II

Heather Wood-Gramza headshot

Unleash your individual power to become a positive change agent in your organization and community. Heather Wood-Gramza will share practical insights and advice on how to dream big, build a team and initiate powerful change regardless of your position within your organization.

Heather Wood-Gramza is passionate about people and building community around stories, common interests and social issues. She believes public libraries are the ultimate vehicle for positive change in communities large and small and is dedicated to exploring innovative ways to unleash that power. Heather earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in International Relations at Grand Valley State University in 1994 and her MLIS degree from Wayne State University in 2015. While her professional endeavors did not begin in libraries, Heather is delighted to have the opportunity to serve others in this capacity. She has worked in an elementary school media center as well as public libraries in varied roles such as teen whisperer, early literacy cheerleader, branch manager and most recently as director of the Howard Miller Library and Community Center in Zeeland, Michigan.

When she isn’t randomly dressed up as a T-Rex, changing her hair color or jamming to the Laurie Berkner Band, Heather loves traveling around the state with her BFF Vanessa Walstra to share insights on how to connect library patrons with stories they will love during one of their many material advisory workshops.

Friday Morning General Session With Sandy Ryder and Wild Swan Theatre: Dramatically-able: Storytelling and Engagement for All Abilities

Friday, March 20, 2020
9:15 – 10:15am
Room: Michigan I & II

Wild Swan Theater has been delighting family audiences since 1980 with performances that blend storytelling, movement, and music into magical, accessible experiences. Premiering productions in its home base of Ann Arbor and touring them throughout Michigan and the Midwest, Wild Swan has enchanted hundreds of thousands of play-goers of all ages in theaters, schools, libraries, and museums of all sizes. Wild Swan Theater is nationally known for its innovative audience accessibility program and its projects for participants with disabilities.

Friday Closing Keynote With Alex Gino: Alliance, Advocacy, and Inspiration

Friday, March 20, 2020
3:00 – 4:00pm
Room: Michigan I & IIAlex Gino headshot

Alex Gino loves glitter, ice cream, gardening, awe-ful puns, and stories that reflect the diversity and complexity of being alive. They would take a quiet coffee date with a friend over a loud and crowded party any day. A former LSAT tutor who never touched law school, Alex can still talk your ear off about sufficient and necessary conditions.

Alex will share both their writing process and product onstage, including how they got into writing as a crossroads of finding a home as a kid when the books available did not reflect their experiences. Now Alex writes middle-grade books with content that centers LGBQTIAP+ kids and reflects the racially, economically, physiologically, and otherwise diverse world we all live in.

Born and raised on Staten Island, NY, Alex has lived in Philadelphia, PA; Brooklyn, NY; Astoria (Queens), NY; Northampton, MA; and Oakland, CA. In April 2016, they bought an RV and put their books and furniture in storage for what became an 18-month road trip through 44 states. They are now happily settled back in Oakland, where they enjoy level floors and indoor plumbing.

Alex has been an activist and advocate for LGBTQIA+ communities since 1997, when they became co-chair of what was then called the LGBA at the University of Pennsylvania. (It was renamed the QSA the year after they left.) They are proud to have served on the board of NOLOSE, a fat-positive, queer, feminist organization dedicated to supporting radical fat acceptance and culture. Alex would like to thank the Black women and other amazing BIPOC (Black Indigenous and People of Color) folk of NOLOSE who raised their consciousness about race and how racism permeates our culture.

Alex is a proud member of We Need Diverse Books and  PEN America.


Uniting the Michigan Library Community

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