Board of Directors Meeting Minutes – December 21, 2020


Special Board Meeting

December 21, 2020, 9:00 a.m.

Virtual Meeting

  1. Approval of minutes for the November 17, 2020 meeting (action required)
  2. Nomination of the New Commissioner for Chicago Public Library (action required)
  3. Public Comment

Next Board meeting:

January 26, 2021, 9:00 a.m.

Virtual Meeting


Open Session Minutes

Physically Present: None

Present by Means of Video or Audio Conference: Linda Johnson Rice, Christopher Valenti, Lynn Lockwood,

Jodi Block, Barbara Bowman, Alexi Giannoulias, Dominique Jordan Turner, Patricia Gaytan Perez, Ivy Walker

Absent: None


Approval of minutes for the November 17, 2020 meeting (action required)

The Board voted (9-0) to approve the minutes for the November 17, 2020 meeting.

Nomination of the New Commissioner for Chicago Public Library (action required)

President Rice presented the nomination of Christopher Brown as the new Commissioner for the Chicago Public Library. The City of Chicago engaged in a nationwide search to identify a Commissioner to be the leader and visionary for the next generation of Chicago Public Library and to impact the public library space globally. The process of selecting a new Commissioner began in late summer 2020. Search efforts were conducted by Mayor Lightfoot’s office and Koya Partners in conjunction with an advisory panel consisting of: President Rice, CPL Board President, Sybil Madison, Deputy Mayor of Education and Human Services, First Lady Amy Eshleman, Former Commissioner Mary Dempsey, CEO of Chicago Park District, Mike Kelly, and founder and President of the Museum of Mexican Art, Carlos Tortolero.

The new Commissioner will be crucial in leading the Library to meet the strategic goals required to drive further impact to the residents of Chicago through prioritization of Mayor Lightfoot’s core values of transparency, diversity, inclusion, equity, accountability and transformation. While a very difficult and challenging process, Christopher Brown is Mayor Lightfoot’s selection for the new commissioner of the Chicago Public Library.

President Rice thanked Mary Ellen Messner for her service to the library and city as the Acting Commissioner during this time.

President Rice called the nomination for Chris Brown for a vote by the Board.

The board voted (9-0) by roll call vote, to approve the nomination of Christopher Brown as the new Commissioner of the Chicago public library.

Mr. Brown joined the meeting and thanked the Mayor’s office and board for selecting him as commissioner. Mr. Brown is a former Chicagoan, with more than 13 years of experience working in multi-branch public library systems with more than five years of executive leadership experience managing multi-million-dollar budgets. He most recently served as the Deputy County Librarian of Community Library Development for the Santa Clara County Library District in Campbell, CA where he built and implemented progressive service models with a focus on providing outstanding customer service, fostering inter-departmental collaboration, engaging committed coalitions, and encouraging teamwork to produce exemplary library service.

This past year, Mr. Brown also led the COVID-19 reopening planning for the Santa Clara County Library District, including staffing within budget constraints and developing new models for service. Prior to Mr. Brown’s most recent role, he worked for several other library systems throughout California.

Public Comment


Next Board Meeting

The next board meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 26, 2021 at 9:00 a.m., this meeting will be held virtually.