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Action Team: Economic Opportunity

About This Page

This web page highlights the latest developments from ULC's Economic Opportunity action team, which is working to establish new models, techniques and approaches that can help all libraries lead their communities into a stronger post-pandemic future.

This page receives ongoing updates. Please contact pnegron@urbanlibraries.org with questions or feedback.

Learn more about ULC's action teams

A Message from the Team

    Economic opportunity is top of mind for nearly every North American city and county. This was true even before COVID-19's devastating impact, which has disrupted industries, shuttered businesses and put millions of workers out of jobs.

    As drivers of local innovation, job creation and economic resilience, public libraries have an essential part to play in strengthening the local support network for economic opportunity, particularly for professionals from traditionally underserved backgrounds such as women, people of color, justice-involved citizens, immigrants and veterans.

    Representing diverse perspectives from communities across North America, our team is dedicated to elevating the role of libraries as hubs for small business and entrepreneurial ecosystems. To achieve that goal, we are working together to build blueprints for activities, partnerships and success metrics that can help all libraries confidently own their critical role in supporting the equity and health of the local economy.


    Current Guiding Questions

      Unique Audiences

      What target audiences of economic opportunity are libraries uniquely positioned to serve?

      Where Data Fits In

      How can libraries effectively find, collect and apply data to enhance and measure economic opportunity support?

      Key Partners

      How can community partners extend and reinforce the library's role as a hub for economic opportunity?


      Meet the Team Members

        Tammy Baggett

        Tammy Baggett

        Durham County Library

        Library Director

        Tammy received a Bachelor of Arts in speech communications/public relations from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. She is a graduate of North Carolina Central University, where she received her Master of Library Science. She has worked at William Madison Randall Library at UNC-Wilmington, New Hanover County Public Library, Forsyth County Public Library, Atlanta-Fulton Public Library as well as the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. She has served as Library Director of Durham County Library in Durham, North Carolina for eleven years. She is passionate about delivering quality library services in Durham County, where her team places a high emphasis on five strategic goal areas: Literacy and lifelong learning, bridging the digital divide, workforce development, capturing the culture of Durham and accountable, efficient and visionary libraries.

        330 Abrooks

        Angela Brooks

        St. Louis County Library

        Small Business and Employment Resources Coordinator

        Angela Brooks supports St. Louis County Library’s goals to be central in creating a foundation for small businesses and nonprofits and to change the entrepreneurial ecosystem to be more inclusive. She collaborates with community partners to support entrepreneurs who start, run and grow businesses, and assists job seekers to access resources to address career and employment needs while spreading awareness of free library services. Angela has a professional background that includes project management, teaching, career development, training and empowering people of all ages. Angela holds an M.A. in Education and a B.A. in Psychology and is a small business owner.

        Jen Byrnes Profile

        Jennifer Byrnes

        Rochester Public Library

        Business Insight Center Director - Central Library

        Jennifer Byrnes is the director of the Business Insight Center at the Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County and also oversees the Carlson Center for Intellectual Property, a USPTO Patent and Trademark Resource Center. Her expertise is in start-ups, market research, and business outreach.

        At Amy Fisher 330

        Amy Fisher

        Mid-Continent Public Library

        Information & Reader Services Manager

        Amy Fisher is the information and reader services manager for the Mid-Continent Public Library. Amy was instrumental in launching the innovative Square One Small Business Services in 2014. Through this program, she works with chambers, EDCs and other resource partners to provide educational opportunities for small business owners and entrepreneurs in the library's service area. With 24 years of library experience under her belt, Amy has given presentations at MALA, MLA, PLA and the Missouri State Library. She holds a Master of Library Science from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

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        ​Jennifer Gibson

        St. Louis County Library

        Reference Manager

        Jennifer Gibson has been with St. Louis County Library since 2016. She leads a team of reference librarians who focus on collaborative outreach efforts and innovative methods to engage the community and assess the impact of research resources and services. Jennifer is dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs, especially those from marginalized and underserved populations, to increase equity and inclusion in the St. Louis business ecosystem. She is a 2011 American Library Association Spectrum Scholar and a 2011 Association of Research Libraries Initiative to Recruit a Diverse Workforce Scholar and an active participant in the Urban Libraries Council Strengthening Libraries as Entrepreneurial Hubs Cohort.

        Lunden Gillespie

        Lunden Gillespie

        Prince George's County Memorial Library System

        Central Area Manager

        An alumna of Frostburg State University and Catholic University, Lunden Gillespie currently serves as the Central Area Manager of the Prince George's County Memorial Library System in Maryland. Passionate about community development, specifically workforce and small business development, she co-chairs the Maryland State Library Workforce and Business Development Workgroup which seeks to create a standard of service across libraries in the state of Maryland.

        Xenia Hernandez

        Xenia Hernández

        Saint Paul Public Library

        Library Community Services Coordinator

        Xenia Hernández is a library community services coordinator at Saint Paul Public Library and oversees the Nicholson Workforce and Innovation Center. Her work is focused on partnership development and executing community-led workforce, business and digital literacy initiatives. She is co-chair of the systemwide WorkPLACE committee and sits on the Metro Public Libraries Jobs and Small Business interest group. Currently, she is the project manager for Career Labs, opening late July 2020 in partnership with Ramsey County and funded by the CARES Act. The Labs will connect jobseekers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic to necessary services and information.

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        ​Heather Jackson

        Prince George's County Memorial Library System

        Area Manager - West Area Branches

        Heather Jackson is an area manager for the West Area Branches in the Prince George's County Memorial Library System. She is currently working on the IMLS sponsored KNEXT project focusing on data and information access for small businesses and entrepreneurs. She has interests in equity in information access, services for immigrants and refugees and community development.

        Misty Jones

        Misty Jones

        San Diego County Library

        Director

        Misty is the director for the San Diego Public Library overseeing the Central Library and 35 branches. Previously, she was deputy director for the Central Division which included overseeing the move, opening and operations of the Central Library @ Joan Λ Irwin Jacobs Common. A graduate of the Masters of Library and Information Science program from University of South Carolina, Misty started her library career at the Greenville County Library in South Carolina. She then worked for nine years at the Charleston County Library where she founded and chaired Libraries Out Loud, a grassroots advocacy program to help restore funding to the library system by promoting libraries to the public as well as legislators and other elected officials throughout the state.

        Scott Kinney 330

        Scott Kinney

        Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library

        CEO-Director

        Scott Kinney is the CEO-director of the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library located in Evansville, Ind. With more than 30 years in libraries, Kinney has previously served as director of Mobile Public Library in Mobile, Ala. and as director of the Sweetwater County Library System in Green River, Wyo. Kinney is passionate about public libraries and about his community, continually collaborating with his staff and those they serve to discover what the library means to them and exploring how he and the library continue supporting the community as it grows and thrives.

        Mark Pond

        Mark Pond

        Spokane Public Library

        Business Research Librarian

        Since 2006, Mark Pond has been the business research librarian with the Spokane Public Library. Prior to that, Mark worked in a similar capacity for the Seattle Public Library as well as the University of Washington Libraries. Mark has been instrumental in creating a strong partnership between the Spokane Public Library and the regional business ecosystem. Having curated a unique set of business research tools at spokanebusiness.org over the past decade, the library has been well positioned to play a strong supporting role in the Spokane region’s business response to COVID-19.

        Leah Rucchetto 330

        Leah Rucchetto

        Toronto Public Library

        Library Service Manager, North York Central Library Departments

        Leah Rucchetto is a library service manager at the North York Central Library, a Research & Reference branch within the Toronto Public Library system. Leah is enthusiastic about the ways that libraries create resilient, connected and knowledgeable community members. Leah is a Co-Chair of the Small Business Services Committee, a committee that drives system-wide strategic work supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses. Leah’s past work includes leading the development of a library of things, programming for digital literacy and inclusion and creating and delivering staff training initiatives, all with the goal to provide targeted services to meet diverse community needs. Leah has a Master’s Certificate in Organizational Development and Change Management from Schulich School of Business, and a Master of Information degree from University of Toronto.

        Hadiza Sa Aadu

        Hadiza Sa-Aadu

        Kansas City Public Library

        Small Business Engagement Specialist

        Hadiza Sa-Aadu holds a Bachelor of Arts in economics and French from Emory University and an MBA with a specialization in data analytics from the University of Iowa. Her career has spanned marketing, sales and data analytics in both the public and private sectors.

        Megan Sutherland

        Megan Sutherland

        Prince George's County Memorial Library System

        East Area Manager

        Megan Sutherland manages operations at the Largo-Kettering, South Bowie, Upper Marlboro and County Correctional Center libraries. Through her involvement with the Maryland Library Association, Megan trains and mentors library workers from across the state on political advocacy. She is interested in best practices for communicating and engaging key stakeholders in the transformational workforce development work libraries are doing.

        Larry White

        Larry White

        Metropolitan Library System

        Executive Director

        Larry Nash White joined the Metropolitan Library System (MLS) August 26, 2019, as the director of strategic planning and projects. Over the next 17 months, he was subsequently promoted to the deputy executive director of strategic planning and services, interim executive director and finally permanent executive director. Prior to coming to MLS, Larry has served as a library director in the states of Ohio and Florida, worked in university library administration and held other public facing service posts in libraries. He has 13+ years of experience teaching library administration and various topics of management to new library professionals in university programs.

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        Mo Yang

        Anythink Libraries

        Studio Coordinator

        Mo Yang is the Studio Coordinator at Anythink, supporting The Studio as a concept and at its physical spaces district-wide. He represents Anythink on national committees and trains and advises staff on Studio concepts and equipment.

        Ken Zambos

        Ken Zambos

        Pima County Public Library

        Workforce and Economic Development Manager

        Ken Zambos is the workforce and economic development manager for Pima County Public Library. In this capacity, he creates strategic community partnerships and manages systemwide coordination and implementation of programming and services designed to assist entrepreneurs and small business owners interested in starting and growing successful businesses. He also oversees Career Online High School, GED programming, English Language Acquisition for Adults and career readiness services such as job assistance and digital literacy trainings.