Advancing Anti-racism in Partnership with Libraries

August 8, 2022

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FUSE Corps

Equitable access to library resources, programs, and spaces has been a Los Angeles County Public Library priority since launching its iCount initiative in 2017. Following the initial three years of the program and a disruption by the Covid-19 pandemic, library leadership identified a need to equip staff with anti-racism skills. The FUSE Executive Fellow will support library leadership in strategizing and advancing recommendations to embed anti-racism and Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI)in its iCount programming, policies, and practices.

Fellowship Dates: October 24, 2022 – October 23, 2023

ABOUT THE FUSE EXECUTIVE FELLOWSHIP

FUSE Corps is a national nonprofit working to expand social and economic opportunities, particularly for communities that have been limited by a history of systemic and institutionalized racism. FUSE partners with local governments and communities to more effectively address pressing challenges by placing experienced professionals within city and county agencies. These FUSE Executive Fellows lead strategic projects designed to advance racial equity and accelerate systems change. Since 2012, FUSE has led over 250 projects in 40 governments across 20 states, impacting the lives of 25 million people.

When designing each fellowship project, FUSE works closely with government partners and local stakeholders to define a scope of work that will achieve substantive progress toward regional priorities. FUSE then conducts an individualized search for each project to ensure that the selected candidate has at least 15 years of professional experience, the required competencies for the role, and deep connections to the communities being served. They are data-driven and results-oriented and able to effectively manage complex projects by developing actionable roadmaps and monitoring progress to completion.

Executive Fellows are hired as FUSE employees and embedded in government agencies for at least one year of full-time work. Throughout their fellowships, they receive training, coaching, and professional support from FUSE to help achieve their project goals. FUSE Executive Fellows bring diverse perspectives and new approaches to their projects. They build strong relationships with diverse arrays of stakeholders, foster alignment within and across various layers of government, and build partnerships between governments and communities.

PROJECT CONTEXT

The Los Angeles County Library system serves more than 3.4 million residents. The system is one of the largest in the United States and has one of the most diverse client bases, supporting a population of which is one-third foreign born. In addition to promoting access to books, information, and digital technology, the County’s libraries also serve as a critical vector for social services through partnerships with the Department of Public Health, the Department of Mental Health, the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, etc.

In 2017, the library launched the iCount initiative, which aimed to remove barriers to access and address inequality across the system. After receiving training and toolkits, each branch developed a tailored Library Equity Action Plan that centered one form of equity to address each year. While iCount was successful in addressing many barriers to equity, library leadership identified a need to specifically incorporate anti-racism training, programs focusing on dismantling racism and strategies for assessing policies and practices that may create barriers for people of color and approaches into their policies, practices, and programs system-wide.

With support from a previous Executive Fellow, the Los Angeles County Chief Executive Office launched the county-wide Anti-Racism, Diversity, and Inclusion Initiative (ARDI). Its goal is to end structural racism and its consequences by collaborating across all levels of government and all relevant stakeholders (both public and private) and by equipping institutions with training and resources necessary to incorporate anti-racist approaches into their work. Library leadership participates in every ARDI working group, reflecting both leadership commitment to anti-racism and the truly broad scope of the library’s programming and services. They feel that now is the strategic time to build on the success of iCount and begin the library’s transformation into an anti-racist institution.

Los Angeles County will partner with FUSE Corps to develop a practical, actionable strategy to incorporate anti-racist approaches into the library’s iCount work, system-wide. The FUSE Executive Fellow will provide high-level support to the library’s iCount committee and advance the group’s agenda through strategic planning, partnership, and training support. This work will ensure that library staff and partners are equipped with the tools necessary to make the libraries across the county into anti-racist spaces.

PROJECT SUMMARY & POTENTIAL DELIVERABLES

The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This project summary and the potential deliverables will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the fellow, and FUSE staff during the first few months of the fellowship.

Starting in October 2022, the Executive Fellow will build deep relationships with key stakeholders, including members of the library’s iCount committee; the Los Angeles County ARDI team; front-line librarians; representatives from partner departments and organizations; and potentially members of the public. The Executive Fellow will gain an understanding of the scope and scale of the library’s work and partnerships; analyze existing partnerships and programming; identify lessons learned and gaps; and determine stakeholder-identified opportunities to incorporate anti-racism into the library’s iCount approaches or policies. While cultivating relationships with key stakeholders, the Executive Fellow will also conduct extensive research to understand current best practices and promising approaches to promoting Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) and combating racism in large, diverse library systems.

Next, the Executive Fellow will recommend actionable strategies to advance the committee’s agenda across the library system. This will include equipping leadership with an implementation strategy and resource plan that outlines any agreed upon programmatic shifts and nuances, ensuring libraries across the county can provide authentic, community centered services; and detailing policy changes and staff training that are reflective of anti-racist approaches across the breadth of the library’s internal and external work, aligning iCount’s work with ARDI’s directives. This could include developing a comprehensive training plan to ensure all library staff have the necessary base knowledge to apply to JEDI to their work. In addition, the fellow may work with Library Human Resources to recommend strategies for building a more diverse workforce.

Finally, the Executive Fellow will identify key metrics, including departmental and county metrics, to make recommendations on strategies and for leadership to monitor progress and measure success. These metrics should help leadership identify gaps in implementation, identify opportunities to scale, and monitor long-term sustainability of anti-racist work. This could include indicators measuring the training or staffing necessary to advance the library’s anti-racist agenda within iCount following the Executive Fellow’s year of service.

By October 2023, the Executive Fellow will have accomplished the following:

  • Conduct a listening tour – Build relationships with stakeholders connected to iCount to understand the system and to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to the library’s current and envisioned approach to integrating JEDI and anti-racism into its work; develop partnerships and collaborations with other departments, community stakeholders, community-based organizations, the Library Foundation and non-profits for resource sharing and funding support to strengthen ongoing efforts to address racism
  • Cultivate a shared vision the future of iCount – Facilitate and support the library’s iCount workgroup, serving as the library’s liaison to the County’s ARDI team; develop recommendations and advance a strategy and implementation plan to embed JEDI and anti-racism practices into iCount system-wide; build the library’s capacity through the integration and alignment of new policies, training, staffing, investment, and partnership
  • Build for sustainability and scalability – Equip the library leadership and staff with the tools and support infrastructure necessary to monitor progress, identify opportunities for improvement and scale, and pursue anti-racist and JEDI efforts long-term

KEY STAKEHOLDERS

  • Executive Sponsor – Yolanda De Ramus, Chief Deputy Director; Los Angeles County Public Library
  • Project Supervisor – Debbie Anderson, Assistant Director of Education and Engagement; Los Angeles County Public Library

QUALIFICATIONS

In addition to the qualifications listed below, a background in equity, diversity, and inclusion program implementation, ideally with experience serving large, diverse communities is strongly preferred for this project.

  • Synthesizes complex information into clear and concise recommendations and action-oriented implementation plans.
  • Develops and effectively implements both strategic and operational project management plans.
  • Generates innovative, data-driven, and result-oriented solutions to difficult challenges.
  • Responds quickly to changing ideas, responsibilities, expectations, trends, strategies and other processes.
  • Communicates effectively both verbally and in writing, and excels in both active listening and conversing.
  • Fosters collaboration across multiple constituencies in order to support more effective decision making.
  • Establishes and maintains strong relationships with a diverse array of stakeholders, both inside and outside of government, and particularly including community-based relationships.
  • Embraces differing viewpoints and implements strategies to find common ground.
  • Demonstrates confidence and professional diplomacy, while effectively interacting with individuals at all levels of various organizations.

FUSE Corps is an equal opportunity employer with core values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply for this position.

FUSE Corps is an equal opportunity employer with a core value of incorporating diverse perspectives into our work at every level. We encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply for this position.