What I Wrote in my (successful) ALA Emerging Leader Application

Today I was happy to see that @ThatAndromeda tweeted a link to a years old blog post entitled what I’m looking for in Emerging Leader candidates, which I think would be super useful to anyone interested in the ALA Emerging Leaders program.

As an unsolicited part-two to that post, I figured I’d share the responses I wrote for my own Emerging Leaders application. I applied in 2016, and was accepted to the 2017 cohort, with a $1000 sponsorship from LITA. So what you see below is a successful application (yahoo!).

The application included an online application, a letter of approval from my employer, my CV, and two letters of recommendation. This post won’t include all of that, but you will be able to see my answers to the online application questions, and one of my letters of recommendation. If you’re interested in some of the things that may or may not have been included in my CV, I am always findable on LinkedIn.

I really enjoyed the Emerging Leaders program, and if you are thinking of applying to it, I highly recommend you give it a shot. If you’re unsure, or if you have any questions about it, please feel free to get in touch. The easiest way to find me is on Twitter, @MetaCatie.

Online Application

Please list your membership in societies and professional organizations and any awards, scholarships, prizes, honors, and offices held:

  • Member, American Library Association
  • Member, Association of College and Research Libraries
  • Member, Canadian Association of Professional Academic Librarians
  • Co-opted Member, Canadian Committee on Metadata Exchange (2015-present)
  • Member and Logistics Leader, Foundation for the Study of Processes of Government in Canada (2007-present)
  • Mentor, University of British Columbia Alumni Association (2013-present)
  • President, Foothills Library Association (2015-2016)
  • Academic Council Representative to the University of Calgary Continuing Education Committee (2015-2016)
  • Director at Large, Foothills Library Association (2014-2015)
  • Member, Data for Good Calgary (2014-2016)
  • Member, Code4Lib Alberta (2014-2016)
  • President, Rotary Club of Calgary Crowchild (2014-2015)
  • Foothills Library Association Gazette Editor (2013-2014)
  • Librarian Representative to the University of Calgary Library Selection, Promotion and Appointments Committee (2013-2015)
  • Rotarian of the Year, Rotary Club of Calgary Crowchild (2014)
  • Committee Chair, Access Library Conference Planning Committee (2014)
  • Canadiana Héritage Metadata Consultation Group Representative (2014)
  • Public Relations Director, Rotary Club of Calgary Crowchild (2013-2014)
  • Guest Editor, Canadian Library Association Feliciter (2014)
  • Feature Contributor, Canadian Library Association Feliciter (2013-2014)
  • Gianrenzo P. Clivio Award for Studies in Italian Linguistics, Italian Studies Department, University of Toronto (2010)
  • Student Member, Ontario Library Association (2008-2010)
  • University of Toronto Italy Abroad Award, Italian Studies Department, University of Toronto (2007)
  • Doris Lawrence Memorial Award for Studies in Modern Languages: University Entrance Scholarship, Pickering High School, Ajax, Ontario (2006)
  • Rotary Youth Exchange Student Sponsorship to Switzerland, Rotary Club of Ajax, Ontario (2004-2005)

Please describe your leadership, community, civic, and volunteer experiences:

As a teenager I was very lucky to have received the support of local community organizations such as the Rotary Club and the Forum for Young Canadians, which allowed me to participate in programs that my family could otherwise not afford. My success in life can be attributed to this support. I am very active in my community, and within the profession, because I believe that the torch has been passed on to me. It is my turn to help lift up others the way that I was lifted. I know that I have a natural inclination toward leadership, and my early adulthood was spent leading local Rotary Club initiatives. Recently, I was the youngest sitting Rotary Club president in the world. I paired my involvement with Rotary with my work in libraries. Locally, this involved creating fundraising partnerships between local literacy organizations and the local Rotary Club. Globally, this involved helping to set up resources and training to librarians serving special needs children in Dominica.

I recently completed my term as President for the Foothills Library Association, where I achieved my goal of doubling the professional development activities delivered to library professionals in the region for that year.

In June 2016 I began a new role at the University of Ottawa, for which I moved across the country. As I settle into this position my goals include finding engagement and leadership opportunities within the American Library Association. I believe this is where my skills and expertise can be most useful.

Please describe your philosophy of effective leadership:

My philosophy of effective leadership is quite simple: All humans deserve respect.

As a leader, this means doing more than treating others as you would like to be treated ; it means treating others the way they themselves would like to be treated. It means acknowledging that all individuals have different needs, and anticipating these needs based on individual experiences and personality styles. As a leader, I strive to ensure all team members know that they are valued, respected, and empowered. I also strive to ensure that they treat themselves and each other with that same respect. This is the foundation of effective leadership, and I believe that all other strategies relating to leadership require mutual respect before they can be successful.

How would you bring diversity to the next class of Emerging Leaders? You may consider any form of diversity:

I live in Canada, and I work at an institution where fluent bilingualism in English and French is mandatory for employment. This allows my institution to serve students who are at risk of becoming marginalized because they are part of an official minority language community. For a lot of students, it is the first time they have ever been able to express themselves freely in an academic setting.

However, fluent bilingualism is a point of privilege. Many bilingual Canadians have had the opportunity to participate in language immersion schooling. This means that a side effect of the Official Language policy is the creation of a workforce that is not very diverse. I am a mixed-race, first-generation Canadian. In an attempt to ensure that we learned English well, my parents did not encourage me and my brothers to learn French. As an adult, I earned my French. Every single word, every verb conjugation, and every rolled ‘r’ was earned through night classes, summer courses, extra student loans for language tuition, and literally thousands of hours of listening. Reading. Talking. Making mistakes. I am the only black librarian of 45 total librarians at my institution, and I know that the Official Language policy is a contributing factor to this state of affairs.

I am hyperaware of the fact that representing and serving marginalize language groups has resulted in my own ethnic underrepresentation at my place of work.

The diversity that I would bring to the next class of Emerging Leaders is grounded in the understanding that the solutions regarding the support and representation of marginalized communities are not always binary, and that the representation of multiple marginalized groups cannot be mutually exclusive. This is a reality that I live with every day, and it is a reality that I am happy to try and ameliorate.

How do you think participation in the Emerging Leaders program will affect your leadership abilities?

I believe that the Emerging Leaders program will allow me to refine my leadership abilities. I think this will be made possible by the creation of new connections with my cohort, as well as with mentors. I also believe that there is an opportunity to derive meaningful connections from shared experiences with the other Emerging Leaders. I think that by sharing new ideas with one another we will be tailoring our own leadership styles, but that we will also be contributing to a larger continuum of leadership resources. I believe that the Emerging Leaders program will help me empower myself to target, evaluate, and ameliorate my own shortcomings. I also believe it will allow me to contribute my own experiences to help others do the same.

Recommendation Letter

This letter was submitted by my immediate supervisor at the time of my application. To be fair and honest, we write this one together to ensure that there were some concrete examples in it. This text has been posted with her permission. And hey, if you like medical libraries and dad jokes, you should find her on Twitter @LindyRexie.

To Whom it May Concern:
I am writing in support of Catie Sahadath’s application to the ALA Emerging Leaders Program. Though I have been Catie’s direct manager for only one month, I have known Catie for almost a decade as a volunteer for the Forum for Young Canadians, and through participation in local library associations. It is my sincere belief that her leadership potential is strong, and that participating in the Emerging Leaders program will enhance and sharpen this aptitude.

Catie is an active leader in the library world, as well as in the community at large. She is able to cross-pollinate her experiences, bringing community service into the library and vice-versa. For example, her involvement as a leader with the Rotary Club inspired her to help initiate an international service project for a library serving special needs students in Dominica. In her role as a librarian, she also brings the diplomatic skills she has gained through her community experiences to manage projects, and to liaise effectively with stakeholders. The mentorship that the ALA Emerging Leaders program would provide would allow Catie to fine tune these skills in a deliberate way, and to gain additional support that will allow her to continue to thrive.

 Catie has expressed her interest in becoming more involved with ALA committees and working groups, especially with regard to libraries and social justice, which she has outlined in her professional development goals. This is a hat that I believe she would wear well. If her acceptance into this program helps her to achieve this goal, the ALA would be gaining a positive team member. The relationship between Catie and the Emerging Leaders Program would truly be mutually beneficial.

 I am delighted that Catie has decided to apply for this program, and I give my full support to her application.

 Best regards,

Lindsey Sikora


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