Executive Director, Brooklyn Public Library Brooklyn, N.Y., Age: 36
Thirteen years ago, Dionne Mack-Harvin was an entry-level librarian at the Crown Heights branch of Brooklyn Public Library, the country’s fifth largest library system. Since 2007, she has been BPL’s executive director, the first African-American in the position and the first African-American woman to head a major public library system in New York State. Overseeing 60 neighborhood libraries and 1,600 employees, she focuses on acquiring the resources her staff needs to serve the borough’s 2.5 million residents with public programs, books and technology.
Libraries make a huge difference in people’s lives, insists Mack-Harvin, who previously served as the library’s interim executive director and chief of staff. “It’s still true that ‘knowledge is power,’ so promoting literacy — from reading to writing to teaching computer skills and critical thinking — is at the core of my work,” she says.
Mentors who recognized her skills and willingness to try something new propelled her career to the executive level, Mack-Harvin says. The transition to a chief of staff position, which focuses on external affairs, from director of Central Library allowed her to attain the skills and necessary support for her current position as executive director.
Mack-Harvin received a bachelor’s degree in history, African and African-American studies from the State University of New York College at Brockport, a master’s degree in Africana Studies at SUNY Albany; and a master’s in library science from SUNY Albany’s Nelson A. Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy.
Quote: “No one creates alone.” – Dr. Kimbwandende Kia Bunseki Fu-Kiau
Favorite book/ author: Beloved by Toni Morrison
Xbox or PlayStation: Wii Fit or Atari
Facebook or LinkedIn: Facebook
Favorite sports team: My son’s junior league basketball team
What artist would you go on tour with: Aretha Franklin
Jeans and T-shirt or suit: Suit
Favorite comedian: Dick Gregory
# of countries visited: 3