American Library Association (ALA) Announces New Leadership Team Additions and Appointments, Including First-Ever Chief Information Technology Officer

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The American Library Association (ALA) is pleased to announce the addition and appointment of new and existing members to its leadership team: Rebecca Headrick, Payal Patel, Julie Reese and Alena Rivers. The cohort is made up of four dynamic individuals who bring a diverse set of skills and experience to the organization.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have attracted new talent and identified existing talent for key ALA leadership positions,” said ALA Executive Director Tracie D. Hall. “The knowledge and experience they possess and the dedication shown by the four leaders makes me feel that the future of ALA and the collective aspirations of our members for programs, platforms, tools and resources that will move the field forward are in good hands.”

New to ALA, Rebecca Headrick joins the Association as the first Director of Information Technology. An accomplished association executive, Headrick brings two decades of experience in strategic roles aligning technology with organizational strategy. In her previous role as Chief Technology Officer for the Illinois CPA Society (ICPAS), Headrick transformed ICPAS’ technology strategy, including building cloud-based infrastructure and guiding the optimization of multiple business processes, increasing staff and customer satisfaction, and member engagement.

Prior to joining ICPAS, Headrick held several technology positions with the American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology. She has served on the Aptify User Community Board of Directors and is currently Vice Chair of the association’s Forum Information Technology Special Interest Group. Headrick earned a Masters in Business Administration from North Park University and a Bachelor of Arts in Business Analytics and IT Project Management from DePaul University

Also a new addition to ALA, Payment card is named Acting Director of the Office of Communications and Marketing (CMO). Patel is a strategic communications professional, multilingual media spokesperson and crisis management expert with over a decade of experience leading integrated public relations strategies and marketing campaigns. Most recently, she led the communications department and served as Navy Pier’s primary spokesperson in Chicago. Previously, Patel was Director of Public Relations for the NFL Players Association – Chicago, where she was instrumental in developing and executing comprehensive communications plans for the 2015 NFL Draft and other events/programs. facilitated by the charity arm of the organization.

In 2020, Patel was named to the PR NEWS Top Women in PR list and recognized internationally for her work in crisis management. In 2016, she was honored at the National Press Club in Washington DC as part of PR NEWS’ 30 Under 30 list. Patel holds a Master of Science in Communications (Crisis Management) from Northwestern University and a Bachelor of Arts in Broadcast Journalism, Public Relations and Spanish from Marquette University.

Julie Reese, director of leadership and learning at Core: Leadership, Infrastructure Futures, has been promoted to interim executive director of Core. Reese has worked for ALA for 22 years, serving the Library Leadership & Management Association (LLAMA) and the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS) prior to Core. Reese played a key role in planning the first LLAMA National Institute. During her tenure at ALCTS, she was instrumental in creating the division’s web courses and created ALCTS’ first virtual forum, the ALCTS Exchange.

Reese has been a leader at ALA and beyond for producing online continuing education programs. In 2020, she became Deputy Executive Director of Leadership and Learning for Core, where she successfully implemented the Core CE program and built a suite of CE products, including webinars, online courses and classrooms, as well as virtual and in-person lectures. Most recently, Reese oversaw the development of Core’s first in-person conference, Core Forum, held this fall. Reese earned an ALCTS Presidential Citation in 2007 for his work on continuing education and ALCTS programs and again in 2017 for his efforts in creating and producing the ALCTS exchange.

Alena Rivers, with the full support of the Board of Directors of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), has been named Executive Director of the ALSC. Rivers began serving as ALSC’s Interim Executive Director in September 2021 and has worked closely with the ALSC Board and Members to ensure that the mission, programs and ALSC services align with strategic objectives. Rivers joined ALA in 2017 as Associate Director of ALSC, where she worked with ALSC staff, board, committees and partners to support the division’s continued growth in member relations, communications, publications, continuing education, projects, grants, convocations and symposia. Her work has included facilitating a division-wide collaboration on bystander intervention, the implementation of the ALSC Equity pilot grant, and the execution of the ALSC Research Agenda pilot grant. Rivers earned a master’s degree in library and information science with a certificate in youth services from Dominican University, where she served as a graduate assistant at the Butler Children’s Literature Center.

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