2017-2018 Cohort


Ashley  Braun

Ashley Braun

Ashley Braun is a children’s services librarian at The Seattle Public Library where she presents storytimes, suggests great books for kids, and designs STEM and art programs. She attained her MLIS at the University of Arizona’s School of Information Resources and Library Sciences in 2011. Ashley serves as a librarian robotics facilitator as part of a three-year National Science Foundation grant awarded to the University of Washington Bothell and The Seattle Public Library, which studies family engagement around computer science and robotics. Her professional interests include youth learning theory, instructional design and curriculum development, and community engagement


Julia Brandel

Julia BrandelJulia Brandel is a youth librarian who works at the Broward County Main Library. She received both her bachelors in English and her masters in Library Science from SUNY Albany before moving to Fort Lauderdale, Florida in order to pursue her career. In her short tenure at the library Julia has already co-created a craft program expected to go county wide, assisted in renovation plans, expanded the youth graphic novel collection, helped facilitate outreach at underserved schools, and running numerous programs for youths of all ages. Previous to becoming a librarian, Julia dabbled in many areas including owning an online book business, rescuing cats, and running a popular anime website, as well as volunteering at a local library where she assisted with story times and ran a graphic novel book club. When not at the library, Julia is hard at work spoiling her cat, getting into passionate debates about graphic novels and sci-fi/fantasy, and  watching a ridiculous amount of home improvement shows (despite not owning a house).


Bethany  Fetzer

Bethany Fetzer

I received my MLIS in 2004, from the University of Pittsburgh.  I’m currently the Youth Services Librarian for the largest branch in the York County Library System.  It is a large, suburban area located in South Carolina just south of Charlotte, North Carolina. I’m looking forward to being part of this program.



Jennifer  Ilardi

Jennifer Ilardi

Jennifer Ilardi is a Youth Librarian at the Florissant Valley Branch of the St. Louis County Library. She started working at the branch in 2008 and received her MLIS from Syracuse University in 2016. During her off hours, she operates and continues to cultivate a unique library called Simple Positive Play where she provides access to books and other playful and artistic resources to the community. Jennifer lives in St. Charles, Missouri with her husband, daughter and cat.


Alesha  Lackey

Alesha LackeyAlesha Lackey earned a BA in Mass Communications at Winston-Salem State University where she also minored in Spanish. She studied Library and Information Studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where she earned her MLIS in 2011. Alesha is the children’s services manager at Beatties Ford Road Regional Library with Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. Alesha has been employed with Charlotte Mecklenburg Library since January 2015 and has served as children’s librarian at Morrison Regional Library and as a programming librarian with Outreach Services. She is passionate about children’s services and library outreach. She was previously employed as an elementary school media specialist with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. There are far too many books for Alesha to choose a favorite, but she is pretty partial to Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae. Her most cherished book is The Cosby Show Scrapbook, a non-fiction weekly reader (remember those?) that she received in the mail 30 years ago! Alesha is a proud pet parent of two rescued pit bulls, Kiwi and Blue, ages 5 and 8.

Shannon  Lake

IMG_4628Shannon Lake is the Teen Educator/Librarian at Providence Public Library. She is enthusiastic about collaborating locally and nationally to create library programs that address the needs of young people. Her programs connect youth to opportunities that reflect their passions while increasing their employable skills in fun and creative ways.

Shannon holds a Bachelors of Science in Speech Communications and Theater from Tennessee State University and a Masters of Library and Information Science from Wayne State University. She has been an active member of the Young Adult Library Services Association division of the American Library Association throughout her library career and served as a 2017 We Need Diverse Books Walter Award Judge. You can find her sporadically on social media with the handle @SwankALaMode.

Paula  Langsam

PaulaLFinalPaula Langsam is a Children’s Librarian for the DC Public Library system.  She received her Masters of Library and Information Science from University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and her undergraduate degree from Grinnell College.





Stephanie Long- Murphy

Stephanie Long-MurphyStephanie first started working in libraries as a teen services library associate in 2008.  In 2012, she earned her MLS and jumped into children’s services at Frederick County Public Libraries.  During this time, she helped design a 400-square-foot early literacy space known as Farm City, and founded her library’s STEM Lab, which expanded to three more libraries. For a girl that never enjoyed math or science classes, Stephanie sure has jumped on the STEM train and fallen in love with it! Stephanie was named by ALSC to the American Library Association’s 2015 Class of Emerging Leaders, and was chosen as a recipient of the 2015 ALSC Penguin Young Readers Group Award. Stephanie is the current Vice President, President-elect, of the Maryland Library Associations Leadership Development Division. She currently works as an Assistant Branch Manager, overseeing Children’s Services in a newly renovated department that includes innovative learning through play and a Maker Space, in Bel Air, MD, Harford County Public Library.

Rachel  McDonald

Rachel McDonald

Rachel McDonald been a Teen Services Librarian for King County Library System in Washington state since 2007. She works in two libraries within communities serving primarily teens from non-dominant backgrounds (specifically immigrant and refugee youth). She facilitates a thriving Teen Library Council, working on a model of Youth-Adult partnership. She has been a member of the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) since 2004, serving on the Board of Directors and multiple taskforces and award committees, including the Alex Awards, the Morris Award, and the Michael L. Printz Award. She was a recipient of YALSA’s 2013 Excellence in Library Services to Young Adults award.

Tori  Ogawa

I am a Children’s Librarian and the Harold W. McGraw Jr. Fellow at Darien Library, in Connecticut.  I am also a member of the 2017 American Library Association Emerging Leaders program.  Originally from Hawaii I enjoy hiking and going to the beach. If I’m not outside, you can find me reading, baking, watching movies, or planning my next trip overseas.

Stephanie  Reinhardt

Stephanie Reinhart

Stephanie Reinhardt is a Youth Services Librarian who has worked with children and teens in Pittsburgh-area and Michigan libraries. She believes wholeheartedly that libraries have a unique role as centers of community and informal education, and thinks a lot about how we can better engage the passion youth have for learning and media in collaborative and productive ways. Stephanie holds a BA in English Literature and French from Saginaw Valley State University and an MLIS from the University of Pittsburgh.

Heather Thompson

Heather Thompson

Heather Thompson is the Youth Services Programming Librarian at the Kenosha Public Library. She co-presented “52 Weeks of STEM @ Your Library” at the 2016 PLA Conference and 2016 ALA Annual Conference, was the recipient of a 2017 ALSC & Dollar General “Strengthening Communities Through Libraries” grant to present 10 STEAM programs per month at after-school care sites, and is a 2017 ALA Emerging Leader


Kelly Trowbridge

Kelly Trowbridge

Kelly graduated from the University of South Carolina with her Master’s in Library and Information Science which she has happily been using for the last two years as the Juvenile Services Coordinator in Union County, NC. She loves to read, especially young adult fiction and cookbooks, and she can’t wait to continue her education to help her community.