Meet the Candidates for the MLA 2024 Election

The MLA Board election will open on Monday, April 1 and close on Monday, April 22 at midnight. This year, MLA members will vote for an MLA President-elect and four Member-at-Large Board positions for terms beginning in July 2024 and ending in June 2027. Election results will be announced in MLA’s Primary Source newsletter on Thursday, April 25. 


Cast Your Vote: 

MLA Board of Directors Election 2024 Ballot

Please note:

  • You will need to log in to access the ballot. Forgot your password? You can request a password reset by visiting the link below and inputting your primary email address. Forgot your password?

  • According to MLA Bylaws, Organizational Members, Affiliated Individual Members, Unaffiliated Library Directors, Affiliated Trustee Members, Retirees, Lifetime Members, and Students shall be entitled to vote in all matters submitted to a vote of the Members.

  • The ballot form can only be submitted once so please review your options carefully before hitting submit. View Candidates

  • When voting for Member-at-Large board positions, please select a maximum of four candidates. If you wish to select less than four, please also select the checkbox next to "No Additional Votes". Ballots with more than four candidates selected will be considered void and not counted.



Jenny Marr

Jenny Marr 
Executive Director, Capital Area District Libraries

I consider the time and energy I have volunteered through MLA over the last 5+ years to be some of the most personally rewarding work I have done. We all want to be a part of something larger than ourselves, and MLA is an organization for libraries and by libraries. The last few years have been particularly tough on us all in the library profession. From navigating the pandemic closures, to figuring out what the new normal would look like, and then having to immediately start holding the line against attacks on intellectual freedom, MLA has provided leadership and guidance. I am proud to have been able to contribute to this work through my roles as an MLA Board Member, as both a Member and 2-time Chair of the MLA Advocacy and Legislative Committee, and for the past 2 years serving on the MLA Strategic Planning Committee. We have had wide-ranging conversations trying to envision how to make Michigan libraries future-ready, and that work is just beginning. Belonging is the deep-seated feeling of acceptance and connection that individuals experience when they are valued for who they are. It is the outcome of embracing equity, diversity, and inclusion. When people feel they belong, they are more likely to engage meaningfully, share their unique perspectives, and contribute positively to their communities. Our library community is stronger than ever and we are equal to the tasks ahead of us. We have a lot of ground to cover as we tackle issues including First Amendment protections, library safety and security, wellness in the workplace, and AI. This work is difficult, it takes tough conversations, and it needs to bring together all of us. MLA has been leading the way for Michigan libraries, and I am asking for your consideration for the President-Elect position so that I may continue to help move us forward on this journey. I believe in our slogan from the last MLA Advocacy Day: Strong Libraries = A Stronger Michigan.



John Clexton

John Clexton 
Library Director, Gladwin County District Library 

I have been working in public libraries for over 25 years, as a Children's Librarian, Technical Services Librarian, to my current position as Library Director. Every day brings something new and the chance to help and serve the public. It is my passion, which has only grown and evolved over time. I believe that this passion can make a difference in people's lives, motivating me to keep going every day.  

The Michigan Library Association (MLA) has been my guide, educator, and supporter throughout my career. Now, I feel the need to give back and offer support to our members, as well as advancing libraries through advocacy, education, and engagement. These are all integral parts of my ability to lead our county library and serve our residents, which is the core of our profession. 

MLA is not just a professional association but a family to me. The camaraderie among MLA members is unparalleled, and I feel a sense of responsibility as a family member to contribute to others. Our primary concern as a library should be to be future-ready, relevant, innovative, and provide for the betterment of society, be it in a public facility, school, or research institution. Everyone needs a library, and we need to meet society's desires and needs. 

Unfortunately, all libraries in our state and beyond have been challenged and tested in our quest for intellectual freedom. We, as library staff, along with MLA, uphold the fundamental right to read. We are at the forefront of defending these measures, and through collaboration and organization, we can band together to support and preserve what libraries stand for today and in the future. 

On a positive note, we have seen some exciting and rapid advancements in equity, diversity, and accessibility. These are the rights of every citizen, and we must continue to promote them to enhance a sense of belonging in the library. While we have made progress, we are not where we should be. To that end, I am running for the MLA Board, seeking your vote to help my goals of promoting acceptance, resistance to censorship, and achieving the current MLA goals for the betterment of all. I urge you to support me in making our Michigan Libraries better for today and the future.


Ryan DeeryRyan Deery 
Director, Charlevoix Public Library 

For the last ten years, I have both relied on and reaped the benefits of the wisdom and work of many MLA board and staff members to serve my community. Now, I hope to harness all that I have learned from all those individuals as well as from my experience and education to serve the Michigan library community as a board member for MLA. Specifically, my experience as the director of three diverse small and rural libraries as well as a board member for the Association of Rural and Small Libraries has given me a strong understanding of leading future ready small and rural libraries. To me, this means leading libraries focused on collaborative and reciprocal relationships both internally and externally, tireless local advocacy, and developing responsive, inclusive, and flexible services. If elected, I plan to both grow that understanding and to work to bring this experience to MLA as an organization as well as its members. In turn, I believe this could help further MLA‚Äôs goal of becoming a clearinghouse for assistance, consulting, mentorship, and resources as well as help further position MLA as the collective voice for all Michigan Libraries. Additionally, as the director of a library seeking its first ever millage in Suttons Bay, leading the state registered historic Allegan District Library through all aspects of a significant expansion and renovation, and now as the director of a library charged with maintaining high levels of services and a gorgeous 100 year old facility, I thoroughly understand the importance of proactively planning, guiding, and communicating both the budget and the fiduciary needs of an organization serving its members. If elected, this experience could be put to use maintaining and strengthening MLA’s financial sustainability as well as again be used to assist MLA’s members.Finally, I hope to serve MLA and its members because I am personally inspired by the fact that values I hold, including an ethos of service, curiosity, a willingness to work hard, and a belief in the power of empathy and inclusion are mirrored in MLA‚Äôs vision, goals, and work and I want to be a part of furthering that inspiration.


Anne Heidemann Anne Heidemann 
Tribal Librarian, Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe

I am happy to run for re-election to Member-at-Large on the MLA Board of Directors, as I feel this is a role in which I can serve and advocate for libraries and especially for Tribal Libraries where I have served for the last 10 years of my 20+ year career in Michigan libraries. I have served on the MLA Board of Directors since 2020 and have been involved with MLA in various volunteer positions going back as far as the early 2000s. It would be an honor to continue this service with MLA.




Claire MeekerClaire Meeker
Library Director, Romeo District Library

I have been a librarian for over 20 years and a public library director for more than 5 years, all in Michigan. During that time, I have been involved with MLA through volunteer opportunities, conferences, and continuing education. I have gained so much from this involvement and have seen the value of MLA for all library professionals. I want to volunteer in a meaningful way and really work to support MLA's Strategic Plan and its plans for the future. Equity, diversity, accessibility, and belonging are at the core of what libraries provide for our patrons and should be a priority for for what libraries provide for their staff. This is an area that we must continue to learn about and strive to improve. MLA has been thorough and intentional in their offerings on the topic. Part of the accessibility and belonging is intellectual freedom and the practice of guaranteeing that libraries have something for everyone and that each individual or family can making choices for themselves. We have fierce defenders of intellectual freedom in our state association who I am proud to support.In my time in libraries, the one consistent thing has been change. The most successful library professionals and organizations embrace that change and prepare for it. The future isn't just about new technology. It's about changing demographics, new practices in human resources, changes in our communities' expectations, and new ways to serve our patrons. MLA does a great job with staying on top of trends and making sure their members are kept informed. I'd love to be part of that.


Valerie MeyersonValerie Meyerson

Library Director, Petoskey District Library

I am honored to submit my candidacy for a position on the Michigan Library Association (MLA) Board. I am excited about the opportunity to contribute to MLA for many reasons. First, my love for libraries runs deep and I am looking forward to serving in a different way. Second, I am motivated by the excellence that MLA has created and am excited to help continue that path. Third, MLA has proven invaluable for libraries today and I would like to give back to the Association. I am eager to bring my experience, dedication, and enthusiasm to this role and sincerely hope to earn your support and trust. My primary goal as an MLA Board member will be to support the principles provided in the Strategic Plan. The Strategic Plan will continue to lead MLA to champion the vital role libraries play in our society through advocacy, education, and engagement. My goal as a board member will be to continue to support this process moving forward by listening to MLA staff, current board members, and librarians. Libraries are more than just repositories of books; they are community hubs that can foster connections, creativity, and understanding. In this current climate, though, some have challenged this notion. Libraries must be prepared to meet these evolving principles of the day through all avenues. I am committed to upholding Intellectual Freedom as a fundamental principle of librarianship and supporting libraries through MLA’s advocacy and education. To ensure our libraries remain future-ready, MLA should continue on the path of prioritizing innovation and futuring, helping to prepare our libraries on the ground for what is ahead of them. I will promote educational programs that empower individuals to think critically and remain on top of how new innovations affect their libraries. I am excited about the opportunity to contribute to the Library Association Board and help shape the future of our libraries. As we are Stronger Together, we can continue to promote our libraries as essential community assets, providing resources, knowledge, and a welcoming space for all. I look forward to the opportunity to work together for the betterment of our libraries.



Christopher PottsChristopher Potts 
Public Services Librarian, Capital Area District Libraries 

As material challenges take more of a public spotlight, it is even more important for the Michigan Library Association to set the example and lead the fight in intellectual freedom. Libraries are a resource for all community members not just one side. I want to run for a member-at-large seat on the MLA board because I am a strong advocate for intellectual freedom and access to information and resources for all, and I believe my experience with diverse communities and leadership in other non-profit boards would bring a unique and valuable perspective to the MLA Board.Additionally, we also need to prepare for what libraries will look like in the future. Libraries have always been about shared resources. As the demand for those resources shift, we need to be able to embrace that change and shift with the community desires. Technology is in high demand, and we need to have a plan in place to not only bridge the digital divide in services, but also to be able to provide the technology resources that our patrons require. Makerspaces, workshop and lab space, tools, and other non-traditional items should be available through the library for patrons to borrow. I have been a long-time advocate for this at Capital Area District Libraries, and have previously served on an MLA workgroup to provide exposure and training on Makerspaces. 


James PughJames Pugh 
Director, Cedar Springs Public Library  

I love what libraries stand for and what they offer their communities. Modern libraries are community centers. Centers of knowledge and learning. Centers of entertainment and creativity. Centers of collaboration and inclusivity. Libraries have evolved from being a place to find information to become safe spaces for all groups of people at all stages of life. Librarians are no longer the gatekeepers of knowledge, but the facilitators of useful and relevant information. Unfortunately, many people do not see the value of libraries and their very existence is put into question. “Why do we need libraries when [blank] exists?” For libraries to thrive today and in the future, they need to be a part of the more diverse communities they serve, to stick to the core values of the Library and Information Sciences (LIS) profession, and to have strong leadership. As an MLA Board Member, I promise to work with libraries across Michigan to safeguard the legacy of libraries while propelling all of us into a vibrant and sustainable future. The LIS profession recognizes that diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) encompasses an array of elements such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, physical ability, socioeconomic status, and cultural background. Libraries strive for an inclusive environment, to create a safe space where every person, both patron and employee, is treated with respect, dignity, and fairness. I pledge to champion DEI as an integral aspect of our profession and firmly believe that diversity enriches the fabric of communities, leading to greater creativity, innovation, and success. I believe by embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion in all aspects of LIS that we as professionals will be better able to serve our communities.One of the core values of librarianship is access to information and intellectual freedom. Libraries should make information available to anyone who comes through their doors seeking it. The issue of banning and challenging materials is by no means a new one for libraries, and I trust in LIS principles that provide librarians the tools they need to fight censorship and stand up for everyone’s First Amendment rights. Strong leadership is the keystone to navigating the challenges libraries face today. I believe that in this ever-evolving political and cultural landscape, leaders must be adaptive, forward-thinking, and responsive to the needs of our communities. I am committed to guiding libraries through these transformations, ensuring that we remain at the forefront of technological and societal shifts. If entrusted with the role of MLA Board Member, I will be committed to advancing the mission of the Michigan Library Association: "Lead the advancement of all Michigan libraries through advocacy, education, and engagement. " I see this as an opportunity to effect positive change not only within my local library and community but across the entirety of Michigan. Together, we can safeguard the legacy of libraries while propelling all of us into a vibrant and sustainable future.

Erin SchmandtErin Schmandt
Director, Caro Area District Library; Vice-President, Millington Arbela District Library Board of Trustees

I am interested in running for the Michigan Library Association Board Member at Large in order to help further MLA’s mission that all belong. Michigan is a large state geographically, with many areas being served by small, rural libraries. Those same libraries often have less bandwidth to have staff serve on state-wide boards so their needs can be overlooked. I would like to add a rural voice to the conversation. I also have a strong interest in intellectual freedom. Those same rural libraries are facing intellectual freedom hurdles and often have less resources to overcome those hurdles. I want to make sure that all sizes of libraries have a seat at the table.


Uniting the Michigan Library Community

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

Friends of Michigan Libraries logo