Long Beach Business Journal: Long Beach Public Library Foundation Announces New Boardmembers
Announcing our new Board President, Barbara Schwerin
Barbara Schwerin is a retired attorney whose career includes roles as founding director of the Cancer Legal Resource Center; director of development, major gifts at Loyola Law School; executive director of the Advocacy Institute at Loyola Law School; and adjunct professor of law. In addition to having served on the Long Beach Public Library Foundation Board of Directors since 2015, she is a member of the Loyola Law School Alumni Association Board of Governors and the Advisory Board for Miller Children’s and Women’s Hospital in Long Beach. Schwerin was recently appointed by Mayor Robert Garcia to the Board of Health and Human Services in Long Beach.
Welcome To Our Newest Board Member, Todd Lemmis
Todd Lemmis is a founding partner of Pacific6 where his work involves investment in and development of hotels, food and beverage outlets, multi-family buildings, music festivals, aquaculture, entertainment and media. Prior to his involvement with Pacific6, Todd played music, worked in restaurants, practiced law, served as GM and general counsel in the automotive industry and was head of HR for a Fortune 200 company. Todd sits on the board of directors of the Long Beach Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and the Downtown Long Beach Alliance.
Todd holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy from UCLA and a Juris Doctorate from Southwestern University School of Law. He lives in Long Beach, California with his wife and three children. He loves to cook and entertain – he developed a unique psychology-based career development model and invented a punctuation mark.
Welcome To Our Newest Board Member, Erick Verduzco-Vega
Erick Verduzco-Vega is a business owner and entrepreneur with extensive experience in the Long Beach community. He is the President and CEO of the South Bay Latino Chamber of Commerce, Partner at CCE Consulting Group, and currently serves on the Long Beach Planning Commission and the Los Angeles County Workforce Development Board.
Erick also manages real estate and restaurant investments including The Stache Bar in Long Beach. Erick received his B.S. in Finance, Real Estate and Law from CSU Long Beach.
Welcome to our newest Board Member, Celine Cordero
Celine Cordero is Senior Vice President at Englander Knabe & Allen and has over fifteen years of experience in local, state and federal government. From 2011 to 2013 Celine served as the Director of External Affairs at Los Angeles World Airports and also served in several high-level roles in former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa’s administration. In 2010 she was appointed as Deputy Mayor for Legislative and Intergovernmental Relations and also served as Associate Director of the Mayor’s Office of Homeland Security and Public Safety.
Celine served as senior fundraiser for the Villaraigosa Mayoral campaign and also worked as a Legislative Deputy in Villaraigosa’s Council office. Prior to City service, she worked as a Judicial Extern for former U.S. District Court Judge Robert M. Takasugi, was a Jesse Marvin Unruh State Assembly Fellow, served as a TELECU Education Foundation Scholar in the U.S. Senate, worked for former Congressmember Stephen Horn, and was a field organizer for the California Democratic Party.
Celine is a 2012 Marshall Memorial Fellow and serves on several civic boards including Children Today, Long Beach Library Foundation and St. Joseph High School.
A resident of Long Beach, she is a member of the CA State Bar and received a B.A. in Political Science from CSU Long Beach and a J.D. from Santa Clara University School of Law.
Advocating for Literacy and Libraries
Margaret Farwell Smith inherited her love of reading from her mother. As a physician, her mother led a busy life, but she enjoyed reading under the shade of a tree in her spare time. Growing up, Margaret loved books in school and college, but it wasn’t until she retired from her career in healthcare that she became a strong advocate for literacy and libraries.
In 2009, as Margaret Smith was looking to be more involved in her community, she attended a seminar on nonprofits in Long Beach. After the seminar, then Library Foundation Board members Tom Reep and Darrell Cannon approached her in the parking lot and asked her to join the Library Foundation Board of Directors.
It was a perfect fit. Margaret was elected Board President for 2012 and started to flesh out the advocacy function of the Library Foundation. Although her career was in healthcare administration, she could see there was a need to organize and advocate for the Library to prevent further budget cuts and less access to library services.
Proper advocacy requires strategy and guidelines. It’s important for the Library Foundation’s Board of Directors and staff to stick to a singular message that resonates with city officials and the public. The Library Foundation’s main advocacy message emphasizes the value of the library system to the City. The educational and technological resources provided are available to all residents with a library card. For many residents who cannot afford services like preschool or a home internet connection, the Library’s resources are crucial and provide paths out of poverty.
Much of Margaret’s work as a Board member has focused on the new Civic Center. When the City was planning the new development, an idea was proposed to eliminate Main Library from the new Civic Center. Margaret and the Board rallied the community’s support and attended several City Council meetings to advocate against this. Their efforts were successful and a beautifully designed and modern new Main Library will open in 2019.
Margaret was elected as the Library Foundation’s first Vice President of Public Affairs for 2014 and has led advocacy and public relations projects ever since.
One of Margaret’s favorite memories from her time on the Library Foundation Board was getting to sign the first steel beam of the new Main Library at a special ceremony on September 19, 2017. She knew then that had it not been for vocal supporters of libraries, this moment would not have happened.
Margaret’s focus as a Board member has also been on philanthropy. As a member of the Board of Trustees for the Earl B. and Loraine H. Miller Foundation, she has helped maintain a partnership between the Library Foundation and the Miller Foundation to host the city’s annual Dictionary Days program. Since the program’s inception in 2003, more than 120,000 new dictionary/thesaurus have been gifted to Long Beach 3rd graders. For many of these students, this is the first book they are given. The program includes annual events at several libraries to teach children how to use their new dictionaries through fun games and activities. This is all possible thanks to the shared focus of supporting youth literacy of the two organizations that Margaret helps lead.
During her time with the Library Foundation, Margaret has realized the importance of nonprofit organizations. So much is accomplished thanks to those who donate their resources and time to causes that matter.
Supporting Education to Transform a Community
Over 5,000 people attended the Michelle Obama Neighborhood Library grand opening ceremony on September 10, 2016. It was an exciting day for the community of North Long Beach which went from having a small neighborhood library to having the largest library branch in the city with more resources and newer technology than any other Long Beach library branch.
This was an especially proud day for Rick Alsagoff who co-chaired the Library Foundation’s fundraising campaign which raised over $1 million for programs at the Michelle Obama Neighborhood Library. Together with his co-chair, friend and neighbor, Mary Hancock-Hinds, Rick raised awareness and funds for the new library and helped rally community support for this much-needed resource.
It was Mary who first invited Rick to join the Library Foundation Board of Directors in 2009. Rick first became involved by donating books to the Library. Learning about the Family Learning Center program was what ultimately inspired him to join the Board. The Library Foundation funds staffing and resources for the Family Learning Center program. The program serves children, job seekers, older people, and families with one-on-one support for homework, research projects and computer use.
“I feel education is a way out of poverty and a way to change your whole life,” said Rick while discussing what inspired him to join the Library Foundation’s Board of Directors.
Rick was born in Singapore and graduated from the National University of Singapore with a degree in Business Administration. Rick spent his early years in merchant banking in Singapore, and lived in Taipei, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Jakarta. He began travelling to Long Beach in the 1970s because his nephews and mother lived here. While it was not his original plan to become an American citizen, he finally moved to Long Beach in 1990 to take care of his mother.
Getting a Long Beach Public Library card was one of his first acts when he moved here. He had one of the older yellow library cards before the system was digitized.
As a financial services professional for New York Life, he has helped arrange for significant contributions from the New York Life Foundation and the Lloyd & Lauretta Dyer Family Foundation to support the Library Foundation and Family Learning Center program.
Rick considers fundraising the life blood of the Library Foundation and is proud to have made a difference and supported programs that have helped transform the Long Beach community.
From Visiting the Library to Supporting Family Learning Centers
Lance Adams was born and raised in Long Beach. Los Altos Neighborhood Library and El Dorado Neighborhood Library were his closest libraries where he would seek out books about sports history and Family Circus comics as a child. Today, Lance helps create educational opportunities for children attending the Long Beach Public Library.
When Lance joined the Long Beach Public Library Foundation Board of Directors in 2008, he immediately took up the role of treasurer previously occupied by one of his partners at Windes, an accounting firm which has been serving Southern California since 1926.
During that year, the Library Foundation’s fundraising campaign for the Mark Twain Neighborhood Library was just ending and Lance was impressed with the new library’s modernity and popularity. The Library Foundation raised close to $1 million in donations for programs at the Mark Twain Library. Those funds are still making an impact at the Library’s Family Learning Center.
As a CPA he has helped the Library Foundation manage endowments, prepare for audits and establish governance policies. Setting up important procedures has allowed the Library Foundation to grow through the years and fund learning opportunities for hundreds of thousands of patrons every year.
Lance was elected president of the Board of Directors for 2015. During this time, he brought on Kate Azar as executive director who currently leads the Library Foundation. For Lance, it has been exciting to see the Foundation evolve and accomplish so much in the last couple of years with his guidance.
As a father living with his family in Long Beach, Lance takes his kids to the Bay Shore Library just like he attended the library in his youth. There they participated in the Library Foundation supported Summer Reading program.
“It’s exciting to see the City building a new library and to think about the impact it will have on future generations. Libraries are great public spaces which engage and educate our community,” said Lance.
A Library and a Family
For many, a library is a home away from home where they can find a quiet and friendly place to study, research and read. For Lorrie Hutton, this goes one step further. When talking about how she joined the Long Beach Public Library Foundation Board of Directors, she talks about how much it was like joining a family.
“I had never seen that type of camaraderie before. That’s not to say we didn’t have our problems but it was truly like family.”
Family is very important to Lorrie. She grew up Oklahoma and Texas and her mother placed great importance on libraries, researching and looking up words in dictionaries. Lorrie remembers when the bookmobile would come around her neighborhood in Oklahoma and how fun it was to pick out her next read.
A job with American Honda Motor Company prompted a move from Texas to California about 30 years ago. Her first home was near the ocean in Redondo Beach which convinced her to stay and live close to the beach.
After moving to Long Beach, she became friends with one of the founders of the Library Foundation, Margaret Durnin. Lorrie was originally asked to join the Board of Directors in 1996 when the Library Foundation was first formed, but turned down the offer due to her busy work schedule.
In 2005, Margaret asked her again to join the Library Foundation Board. This time Lorrie was looking for a way to branch out and meet other people in the community and she agreed.
Some of Lorrie’s favorite memories from serving on the Library Foundation Board are of the Booked event series. One of her favorite guests was Jeffrey Weaver, Curator of Sculpture & Decorative Arts at the Getty, who spoke about the book, Gods of Angkor: Bronzes from the National Museum of Cambodia by Louise Allison Cort and Paul Jett. Jeffrey was co-curator of the exhibition that was organized by the Getty, the Smithsonian and the National Museum of Cambodia.
In her 13 years on the Board, Lorrie was elected to the roles of President, Vice President, Secretary, and Vice President of Finance. She has helped guide the Library Foundation through exciting times like the fundraising campaigns for the Mark Twain Neighborhood Library and Michelle Obama Neighborhood Library, as well as challenging times like the campaign to keep Main Library open when the city considered shutting it down.
She looks forward to the opening of the new Main Library and treasures the memories that brought the Library Foundation to the success it is today.
A Love of Literacy from Coast to Coast
When Susan Redfield was in high school she would use money she saved from baby-sitting to take the train to New York City. She would usually go to the theatre when she arrived, but would also visit the New York Public Library. It was there that she began discovering the treasures that could be found at public libraries and developed a love of literacy.
As a teen, Susan was a fan of Albert Hirschfeld, a cartoonist whose work was featured in Playbill, The New Yorker Magazine, New York Magazine, and other popular publications. While looking for Hirschfeld’s works in these publications at the New York Public Library, Susan discovered short stories by John Updike and J.D. Salinger. The Librarian invited her to the archives section of Library to find more stories and books she would like. Susan remembers feeling like she was meeting The Beatles as the Librarian guided her around.
In 1997, when she moved to Long Beach after working as a social worker and attorney in Chicago, Susan was looking to get involved in her new community. In Chicago, Susan had been involved in raising funds for children’s playgrounds, the zoo and her church, and was hoping to apply her experience in philanthropy to causes that were important to her in Long Beach.
One of the first friends she made when she arrived was Diane Jacobus who is one of the founders of the Long Beach Public Library Foundation and at that time was a Senior Advisor to Mayor Beverly O’Neill. The two of them started a book club together and Diane would tell Susan about the great work that the Library Foundation accomplished.
In 1999, Diane introduced Susan to Gene Richey, the Executive Director of the Library Foundation, who invited her to join the Endowment Committee, Chaired by Margaret Durnin. And in 2001, she began serving on the Long Beach Reads One Book committee where she met her friend Mary Barton. Long Beach Reads One Book brought different authors to the city every year for a series of events to inspire reading among residents of all ages. Meeting Ray Bradbury when he was the featured author in 2005 is one Susan’s favorite memories of this program.
In 2004, Gene Richey invited Susan to join the Board of Directors for the Library Foundation. She still has the letter of invitation and is amazed it has been so many years since that day.
In addition to continuing to help organize Long Beach Reads One Book for several more years, Susan was elected to the role of Vice President of Fund Development for two terms and is completing her term as President this year.
Susan’s dedication to the Library Foundation has helped the Foundation expand and support the Library in evolving to meet the changing needs of the city. Her love of literacy has been shared not only with those closest to her, but with the entire Long Beach community.