Emerging Leader Spotlight: Dontaná McPherson-Joseph

woman with glasses and short dreadlocks, smiling, wearing a white scarf and a dark shirt. The GLBTRT is proud to highlight some of our past Emerging Leaders (ELs). Including people who are members of and/or sponsored by our round table, these spotlights will let you get to know some of the incredible people in our field and learn about the work that they’ve accomplished through the EL Program. Donate today to the GLBTRT’s Emerging Leader fund and continue supporting amazing new librarians!

Name, Organization: Dontaná McPherson-Joseph, Charles County Public Library, MD

EL year and project: 2016, Team K: YALSA Social Media Calendar #YALSAengaged

GLBTRT appointments:

  • 2016-2018 Reviews Committee
  • 2016-2017 Reviews Committee Chair

Q: How did you first get involved with GLBTRT? What impact has the Round Table had on your life and/or profession?

When I first joined ALA as a student, I was drawn to the GLBTRT. I was very excited to find there was a place for LGBT librarians, and I had to be a part of it. I joined the RT and the email list, and just listened for the first year or so. I read the emails and was quietly amazed by the work that was being done. When the 2016 Emerging Leaders application opened, I was nervous. I’d been looking for ways to get involved and feel like a contributing member of the organization. I didn’t really think I’d be chosen as the 2016 sponsored EL, because I’d just been a quiet observer. When I got the email that I’d been chosen and sponsored, I was floored. I was, and still am, so incredibly grateful to the GLBTRT. In person and online, it is a great feeling to be in community with so many like-minded people.

Q: What opportunities or experiences have you discovered by being in the Emerging Leader program?

I have suddenly found myself thrust into leadership positions that I wasn’t expecting. I currently serve as chair of the Reviews Committee, and it has been a learning experience. I find myself amazed at the amount of trust put into me to be the coordinator of, as well as contributor to, a respected reviews column.

Q: What advice would you share with new librarians and library students about getting involved in ALA and other professional organizations?

I would say try everything. Read everything you can on your organization of choice. Pick the divisions that resonate most with you; ask questions, and don’t be afraid to learn.

Q: What is your most memorable moment from the Emerging Leaders program?

The most memorable moment isn’t a moment. It’s a series of great conversations with my team. Together we worked through schedule conflicts, confusion, time zones, being hangry, and still we remain friends, interested in each other’s lives. Not to mention the relationships built with other members of the 2016 cohort and those that came before. The Emerging, and Emerged, Leaders are an awe-inspiring group of people.

Q: How has the Emerging Leaders program impacted your career and professional involvement?

The EL program presented a lot of firsts for me. First time at a professional conference. First time presenting at the poster session. First time visiting Boston (site of 2016 Midwinter). It forced me out of my comfort zone. Every time I think, now, that I can’t do something because I’m too young or too inexperienced, I think back to my time in the program. I remind myself that I am an Emerged Leader. I am an expert at going outside of my comfort zone to learn something new or start a new project. I do have certain knowledge and skills now as a direct result of being in the program. It has given me the confidence to try.


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