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Meet Our Conference Keynote Speakers

Each speaker will focus on the three areas of resilience noted in the conference title:

Leadership, Education, Inspiration

Moderated By:
Kelvin Watson, Las Vegas-Clark County Library District

As the new executive director of the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District, Kelvin Watson brings innovative, award-winning leadership to Nevada’s largest library system. Mr. Watson oversees 25 branches spanning 8,000 square miles, a budget of $77 million, 700 employees, and a collection of 3.2 million items. The Library District is a vibrant and vital member of the community offering limitless learning; business and career advancement; and government and social services support. For more information, please visit

Mr. Watson joined the Library District from his role as the director of the Broward County Libraries Division, where he managed 700+ full-time employees and a budget of more than $70 million. The Broward County library system serves 1.9 million people through 38 locations in the Ft. Lauderdale, Florida region.

Regarded as one of the most highly respected thought leaders in the library industry, he is credited with expanding his customer base in past library management roles, through outreach efforts to underserved and diverse populations. His deep experience in fundraising, technology, program development, plus his demonstrated success in addressing the digital divide, will help the Library District to further expand its role as a free educational resource for all residents.

During his tenure at Broward County Libraries, Mr. Watson brought transformative change through ambitious and groundbreaking initiatives, such as streamlining access to resources, introducing new technology, and developing partnerships and new collaborative relationships with internal agencies and community groups. He was named the 2021 winner of the Margaret E. Monroe Library Adult Services Award, sponsored by NoveList, for his dedication to implementing new and innovative ways to meet customers – both existing and new – “where they are,” with initiatives targeting non-traditional library users.

Under his leadership, the Florida Library Association (FLA) named Broward County Libraries as the 2020 Library of the Year; FLA named Mr. Watson as the 2019 Librarian of the Year; and the American Library Association (ALA) named the Broward County Libraries as the Library of the Future, all of which he credits to the work of his staff. Other awards over his career have included the 2016 inaugural ALA Ernest A. DiMattia Award for Innovation and Service to Community and Profession; the 2017 DEMCO/ALA Black Caucus Award for Excellence in Librarianship; and as the 2019 Community Service & Distinguished Achievement Honoree by the Friends of the African American Research Library and Cultural Center.
Previously, he served as COO/senior vice president for Queens Borough Library in New York City, after rising through the leadership ranks of the organization from a distinguished background in technology. In his prior role as chief innovation & technology officer/vice president, information, technology, and development, he was instrumental in establishing several groundbreaking programs, and he developed and implemented digital divide strategies, which promoted equality and equity for all.

Mr. Watson started his career as a Commissioned Officer in the Active US Army and Army Reserves. He transitioned into the private sector as a leader with Ingram Library Services, Borders Group, and The Library Corporation (TLC). These positions fueled his passion for the field of library science and he went on to join the USDA National Agricultural Library.

Throughout his career, he has remained active as a speaker and panelist at conferences and an author of articles in national library publications. He serves on the San Jose State University School of Information, Leadership, and Management Program Advisory Committee, is a past president of Black Caucus of American Library Association, past Public Library Association Board member, currently Co-Chair American Library Association Digital Content Working Group, American Library Association Business Advisory Group, REALM Project Steering Committee, and serving on the Board of Directors for its Book Industry Study Group (Secretary).

Mr. Watson earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration and a Minor in Military Science from Lincoln University in Missouri. He earned his Masters of Library Science Degree from North Carolina Central University and is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.


Leading in the midst of deficits, wildfires, politics, a coup d'etat, and COVID-19

Budget deficits, rampant wildfires, political turmoil, a coup, and the global pandemic - what a year! The impact of just one of these events will certainly test us as human beings. COVID-19 alone has challenged every aspect of our lives - in the way we learn, the way we play and socialize, and the way we work. Taken together these events, many of which we have very limited control, take a cumulative toll on us and our communities. How do we emerge from these events so that we are still standing? How do we lead in the midst of all this so that our organizations, institutions, and our communities not only survive, but thrive? Ruth Huard shares what she has found to be core leadership practices in emerging from these volatile, complex and ambiguous environments.

Ruth Huard, PhD, San José State University

 As Dean of the College of Professional and Global Education and the Senior International Officer at San José State University (SJSU), Ruth Huard provides strategic vision and operational leadership across multiple areas including the academic departments in information and data science disciplines, professional and continuing education, global programs and services, and research and training centers including Silicon Valley Center for Global Studies and the Silicon Valley Center for Big Data and Cybersecurity. 

With 20 years of professional experience in the areas of learning sciences and technology design, Ruth Huard has facilitated the growth of online teaching and learning opportunities through academic entrepreneurship and accessible technologies. She started her professional career in industry, applying her entrepreneurial skills at Silicon Valley startup companies with a global footprint. She received her Ph.D. from Stanford University where she conducted research in human-computer interaction and smart learning systems in the School of Education and in the Computer Science Department–Knowledge Systems AI Lab. While Dr. Huard is excited about emerging technologies, her interests and focus continue to be on people, especially how lives and communities could be uplifted and positively transformed by these technologies.


What constitutes resilience in LIS education?  Does the very existence of our schools demonstrate resilience?  What are some ways we can become more resilient in the new school year?  This oral history relates how one long-time faculty member has negotiated through situations that call for resilience in library and information science education and developed simple strategies to persevere and sustain momentum. 

Mary K. Biagini, PhD, University of Pittsburgh

Mary K. Biagini, a tenured Associate Professor, serves as the Chair of the Department of Information Culture and Data, one of three departments in the School of Computing and Information at the University of Pittsburgh. She also directs its School Library Certification Program. At the School, she has served as both Associate Dean and Chair of the Library and Information Science Program. She also was a faculty member in the Library Science Program at Kent State University. She began her career as a school librarian and English teacher in the Akron (OH) Public Schools and a reference librarian at the Stow (OH) Public Library. She teaches courses in the School Library Certification Program, Resources and Services for Adults, and Resources and Services for Young Adults as well as advises doctoral students.

For six years, she served as the founding chair of the Electronic Information Network in Pittsburgh, a $15 million project funded by county government and grants from regional corporations and foundations to link electronically the resources of public libraries in Allegheny County (PA). For her leadership of this project, she received the Distinguished Service Award for Exceptional Service in Support of Public Libraries in Allegheny County (PA) by the Allegheny County Library Association.

She has received in excess of $900,000 in grant funding from the PA Department of Education, the PA State Board of Education, the Buhl Foundation of Pittsburgh, the Library Services and Technology Act and has worked as a consultant and subcontractor on two IMLS grant and is currently serving as the Project Evaluator on the IMLS-funded SLIDE: The School Librarian Investigation: Decline or Evolution? grant. In 2011, she completed a research contract with the PA State Board of Education for an analysis of school libraries in PA and a set of recommendations for the PA House of Representatives that was published as Pennsylvania School Library Study: Findings and Recommendations.

Dr. Biagini served as project director and editor of The Model Curriculum for Pennsylvania School Library Programs for the Pennsylvania Department of Education and on the updated curriculum The Model Curriculum for Learners in PA School Libraries in 2019. Between 2014 and 2020, she directed ten Leadership Academies for Pennsylvania School librarians. She has made presentations about these grant projects at state and national conferences and has published articles and book chapters about them.

She is an active member of the American Library Association, and chaired and served three terms on the Publishing Committee, which oversees all ALA books and journals. She also has served as an appointed member of the Committee on Education. She participates in the American Association of School Librarians, and served as editor of School Library Media Quarterly, a refereed journal, for six years. She co-chaired the AASL National Conferences in 2001 and in 2005 and has chaired the AASL Nominating Committee.
In 2007, Dr. Biagini was awarded the Outstanding Contributor, Pennsylvania School Library Media Programs, by the Pennsylvania Association of School Librarians. She was awarded a Faculty of the Year Award by Web-based Information Science Education (WISE) in 2008. While a faculty member at Kent State University, she received the Distinguished Teaching Award from the Kent State University Alumni Association and the Distinguished Alumna Award.


Much of the popular narrative about resilience, inspiration, and innovation focuses on development and demonstration at the individual level, without the acknowledgment that these conditions are created and carried by the communities that we inherit or that we form. This talk seeks to acknowledge just a few of the communities - Knowledge River (University of Arizona), the Spectrum Scholarship program (American Library Association), and the national associations of librarians of colors - that have contributed to a personal sense of resilience, inspiration, and innovation and that might also inform broader commitments to create and nurture our own communities.

Miguel Figueroa, Amigos Library Services

Miguel Figueroa is President and CEO of Amigos Library Services. He has previously held positions with the American Library Association (Center for the Future of Libraries, Office for Diversity & Spectrum Scholarship Program, Office for Literacy and Outreach Services), the American Theological Library Association, New York University Medical Center, and Neal-Schuman Publishers. He is a graduate of the University of Arizona’s Knowledge River Program, an initiative that examines library issues from Hispanic and Native American perspectives.




Contact the ALISE office with any registration and conference related questions at [email protected] or 978-674-6190.