Stephen A. Jackson has accepted the Oak Park Public Library's new full-time position of Director of Equity and Anti-Racism. His first day in this new role will be Monday, October 11.
Joining a handful of public libraries with similar equity-based leadership positions, the library created this position to support and fulfill its anti-racism journey and its first Anti-Racism Strategic Plan, approved in March 2021 by the Board of Library Trustees.
The new Director of Equity and Anti-Racism is a member of the library's leadership team, and works under the direction of the Executive Director and in collaboration with the library's other directors. Together, the team will work to improve the library's public service and staff relationships by ensuring policies and practices are equitable, inclusive, and anti-racist. The Director of Equity and Anti-Racism also will help to train library staff on topics such as anti-racism, equity, diversity, inclusion, and restorative practices.
"We are thrilled to welcome Stephen to this new role," said David J. Seleb, Executive Director of the Oak Park Public Library. "His focus on building relationships, his commitment to serving the community, and his love of public libraries as hubs of learning and connection make him the ideal candidate."
"I love motivating others, building consensus, supporting open communication, and working hard to create environments that are supportive for all," Jackson said. "It is an honor to join the leadership team here at the Oak Park Public Library. I look forward to adding value to the library's journey to becoming an antiracist and equitable organization."
Jackson, who was the library's Manager of Teen Services and will work with the library's leadership team to address that opening, brings more than five years of library experience engaging marginalized and vulnerable populations. These include teens as well as individuals experiencing homelessness, mental health crises, income insecurity, and incarceration.
Jackson earned his master's of science in clinical mental health counseling and his bachelor's of arts in behavioral sciences from National Louis University. As a trained Restorative Practitioner, he also has served as a board member or volunteer for local groups including the library's Anti-Racism Advisory Team, the Equity Team of Oak Park, the Oak Park and River Forest High School's Culture Climate and Behavior Committee, the Austin Career Education Center, Oak Park and River Forest's Partners for Equity, and the Oak Park-River Forest Chamber of Commerce.