We are pleased to share that the DPLA Board of Directors elected Felton Thomas, Jr., executive director and CEO of Cleveland Public Library, as its new chair at its annual meeting last month. His term as chair will extend through June 2025. Thomas will replace Denise Stephens, the Peggy V. Helmerich Dean of University Libraries at the University of Oklahoma, whose term of service has ended after six years, the last three of which she served as board chair.
Thomas has served as a member of the DPLA Board of Directors since 2019 and has led the Cleveland Public Library since 2009. During his tenure, Cleveland Public Library was named a "Top Innovator" by the Urban Libraries Council for its use of technology and data to inform decision-making. Thomas has been named a Library Journal "Mover and Shaker" and has served as President of the Public Library Association, a member of the Aspen Institute Task Force on Learning and the Internet and President of the Greater Cleveland Food Bank. Thomas earned an undergraduate degree in psychology from The University of Nevada-Las Vegas and his Masters in Library Science from The University of Hawaii. His library career began at age 13 when he became the youngest employee in Las Vegas-Clark County Library District history. Thomas serves on the boards of United Way of Greater Cleveland, University Circle Inc., The Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Cleveland School of the Arts, where he serves as President. Felton was named the 2019 Community Leader of the Year by Cleveland Magazine.
"I look forward to helping DPLA continue its essential work breaking down barriers to access through collaboration and technological innovation, and thank Denise for all her work to position us for the future," said Thomas.
"We are incredibly pleased and fortunate to benefit from Felton's leadership at this critical time for libraries," said DPLA Executive Director John Bracken. "All of us at DPLA thank Denise for her steady hand over the past three years and know that Felton will help us continue to deliver on our mission to ensure equitable access to knowledge for all." At its annual meeting, the DPLA board also approved second terms of service for Jill Bourne, City Librarian, San Jose Public Library, and Elaine Westbrooks, Carl A. Kroch University Librarian at Cornell University.