Long Beach Public Library Foundation

Champion of Literacy, Nancy Merrill

Nancy and Charles Merrill at the 2017 Grape Expectations gala.

For nearly a decade, Nancy Merrill has supported the Long Beach Public Library Foundation’s mission at all 12 of the city’s public libraries as a Board member.

Nancy has served on the Board during a time of great evolution for the Library. On October 25, 2014, Nancy attended and helped break ground on a much needed new library in North Long Beach. The Michelle Obama Neighborhood Library opened on that site on September 10, 2016 and is the largest and most visited neighborhood library in Long Beach. Nancy joined the Library Foundation Board of Directors in raising $1 million for technology, programs, and resources that continue to create learning opportunities at the Michelle Obama Neighborhood Library.

Nancy Merrill (far left) with Library Foundation Board members and staff and Mayor Robert Garcia (center) at the ground breaking ceremony for what would become the Michelle Obama Neighborhood Library.

Nancy also served on the Board as the plans for what became the Billie Jean King Main Library first materialized. The new central hub of the Long Beach Public Library system opened on September 21, 2019 at a ceremony in which the Library Foundation presented a check for over $2 million to support enhancements at the new library.

Together with her husband, Charles, Nancy has been a great supporter of the Grape Expectations gala, the Library Foundation’s largest annual fundraiser. Nancy and Charles Merrill have served as gala sponsors multiple times and donated generously to the gala auction.

During her tenure, Nancy took on several roles including Secretary and positions in the Executive, Endowment, Programs, Librarian Outreach, and Advocacy Committees. The Library Foundation is forever grateful for her support.

Welcome To Our Newest Board Member, Greg Zinberg

As Vice President at the Clark Construction Group, Greg Zinberg leads teams in the procurement, pre-construction, and construction of complex high profile projects. He is an instructor for Clark’s Corporate University and Strategic Partnership Program, and is active in the development of Lean culture and processes.  During more than 20 years with Clark Construction, Greg has had the opportunity to work on some of Clark’s most iconic projects including LA Live!, the Los Angeles County Hall of Justice, and Disney’s Cars Land.

Greg has consistently promoted Clark’s support of the Long Beach Public Library Foundation and other local causes.  He has been a judge for the Associated Schools of Construction District 6 & 7 Student Competition since 2014.  Greg served as Chairman of the 2017 LCI Congress in Anaheim, and was a Charter Board Member and Secretary for Rebuilding Together – Greater Los Angeles. 

Greg received a BS in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Cornell University.  He and his wife Tracy have lived in Long Beach since 2006 with their two boys, who attend Long Beach public schools.  

Welcome To Our Newest Board Member, Liz Munzer

Liz Munzer has three children, ages 10, 9, and 7. Liz currently resides in Mission Viejo. Despite her home being in south Orange County, she spends most of her time in Long Beach. Liz works as a realtor for First Team/Christies in Bixby Knolls.

Liz also dedicates a substantial amount of time participating as a board member for the Munzer Foundation. This is one of her greatest joys in life. As a board member she is responsible for reviewing grant proposals, going on site visits, and working together with her other family members to continue her grandparents’ strong commitment to philanthropy in Long Beach. Currently, Liz is on the board for the Boys and Girls Club of Long Beach as a member of the executive committee and the chair for the 2020 gala.

Liz looks forward to having the opportunity to participate as a board member for the Long Beach Public Library Foundation, allowing even more chances to serve the city she loves so dearly.

Champion of Literacy, Renee Simon

Renee Simon with Mayor Robert Garcia at the last City Council meeting at the previous City Hall on July 23, 2019.

National Friends of Libraries week gives us the opportunity to celebrate some of the most dedicated volunteers and supporters of our country’s public libraries. As the 14th annual celebration begins on October 20, we would like to take the opportunity to recognize a founder of the Friends of the Long Beach Public Library and member of our Library Foundation Board of Directors, Renee Simon, for her incredible service to the City of Long Beach and devotion to the Library.

Renee’s work in Long Beach is one that has made a difference for so many who rely on city services. Renee and her husband Harry first moved to Long Beach in 1950 after Renee earned her master’s degree in science from Stanford University. Although she worked as a chemist, Renee has always had a deep love of literature and writing that guided her and her family to the Long Beach Public Library. She would go on to become one of the founders of the Friends of the Long Beach Public Library during a trying fight against censorship.

In 1962, The Last Temptation of Christ by Nikos Kazantzakis was challenged at the Long Beach Public Library. The Director of Library Services at the time, Blanche Collins, spoke before the City Council of the importance of not censoring the Library’s collection. Literacy supporters, including Renee, joined Blanche at this meeting and the book was not removed from shelves. These library supporters mobilized and on December 8, 1963, the Friends of the Long Beach Public Library held their first formal meeting. The Friends have grown exponentially since then and continue to advocate and fundraise for important Library programs to this day.

Renee earned her master’s degree in library science at UCLA in 1966 while continuing to support the Library. She also chaired the El Dorado Park Development Committee and played a big role in the creation of the park as it exists today. The committee worked with several organizations to place a tax on the ballot to develop the park. Voters approved a small increase in their property tax for ten years to fund the development of the park, golf course, and the Nature Center.

Renee’s next move in service to the City of Long Beach would be her election to the City Council in 1972 representing the 3rd District. Renee was only the second woman elected to the Council and the only woman on the Council during her terms. As a Councilmember, Renee’s work in land use helped shape how our city developed in many different areas.

At the last City Council meeting in the previous City Hall on July 23, 2019, Mayor Robert Garcia recognized Renee saying, “(She) is an incredible advocate to this day of education and our libraries. And (she) is always, not just here, but behind the dais speaking to those of us who have built friendships and mentorships with Renee.”

After her City Council service, Renee accepted a teaching post in Public Policy and Administration at California State University, Long Beach and then served as Deputy Director for Transportation Planning for the Southern California Association of Governments. She has been involved with several nonprofit organizations besides the Library Foundation and the Friends of the Library, including the Long Beach Arts Council, the Long Beach Symphony and International City Theater. One her most dedicated roles as a volunteer is her services since 1991 on the Archstone Foundation Board of Directors. Renee was instrumental in the process of that Foundation changing its focus to meeting the needs of the aging population and helping elders live safe, independent lives.

Renee has also authored the following books, all available at the Long Beach Public Library: Destination Long Beach: The Queen Mary Story, The Long Beach Water Department: A Historic Perspective, 1945-2000, Music Looks Forward: The Long Beach Symphony Orchestra, 1934-2009, Long Beach Transit: 50 Years Of Moving Our Community Forward, and her latest book, Our Own Big City: Long Beach And Its Decade Of The 1970s.

Forever a friend to our libraries, we thank Renee for her nine years of service to the Library Foundation Board of Directors and the difference she has made in the lives of countless Long Beach residents.

Learn more about the Friends of the Long Beach Public Library at
http://www.longbeach.gov/library/connect/friends-of-the-library.

Welcome To Our Newest Board Member, Joan Van Hooten

Joan Van Hooten has 35 years of experience in nonprofit arts management and fund development at visual and performing arts organizations throughout Southern California and at the University of Southern California. She was Director of Development at Long Beach Museum of Art and Orange County Museum of Art and Director of Major and Planned Giving at Los Angeles County Museum of Art. As USC’s Director of Development for San Diego County, she established the first development effort in that region. Joan has been Executive Director of the Arts Council for Long Beach and Long Beach Playhouse and, as senior advisor for The Third Sector Company, assisted several nonprofits in transition as Interim Executive Director.

Joan has served on boards of directors of Historical Society of Long Beach, Art Exchange, Rosie the Riveter Park and Salvation Army. Besides a career in K-12 education, she taught art history at area colleges. Her most rewarding volunteer endeavor was founding a library at her sons’ school.  She curated an exhibition, Lorser Feitelson: Artist-Teacher, at Long Beach City College Art Gallery and was author of Antique Shopping in Southern California, a 250-page guidebook for collectors.    

Joan earned a BA from University of Redlands, a MA in California history from Occidental College, and a second MA in art history from CSULB.  

Welcome To Our Newest Board Member, Charlyn Bender

Charlyn Bender is a graduate of Loyola Law School, where she earned her JD in 2003. She also holds a MA in Multi Cultural Education from CSU Dominguez Hills, and a BA in History with a Minor in Biology from the University of California, San Diego. Most recently she completed the Ross Minority Program in Real Estate Development at the University of Southern California. 

Charlyn has been a practicing attorney for the last 16 years, serving as a criminal prosecutor in Orange County.  She also served as Vice President and general counsel for her family business, Madison Paving Inc.  Charlyn is also a budding real estate investor, managing properties throughout Long Beach and the Los Angeles area.

Having long harbored a desire to increase her engagement in her community and the process of public policy decision making, Charlyn completed the Los Angeles African American Women’s Public Policy Institute in 2011. Shortly after completion of the program, she was appointed to the Medical Marijuana Task Force for the City of Long Beach. In this role, she served as the chair of the committee responsible for advising the City Council about proposed legislation for the development and regulation of cannabis farms and dispensaries in the City.

While her roles as an attorney, wife, and Mom to a spirited toddler keep her busy, Charlyn still finds time to volunteer in the community.  She regularly speaks in 5th grade classrooms teaching students the dangers of gangs and drugs as a part of the GRIP program. She is also active at Loyola Law School, volunteering as a 1L law student mentor.

Welcome to our newest Board member, Jeff Carrick

Jeff Carrick is a Senior Manager in the audit and assurance department at Windes, Inc., where he is a CPA with over 10 years of experience. He focuses on serving middle market companies and organizations in a variety of industries, including transportation and trade, maritime, third party logistics, manufacturing and distribution, construction, nonprofit, and other sectors. Jeff is also the treasurer of the board of directors of Algalita Marine Research and Education, based in Long Beach.

Jeff holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration with an emphasis in both accounting and management from Concordia University, Irvine. He lives in Cypress, CA with his wife and their two young boys. He enjoys running, reading and building Legos with his kids.

Welcome To Our Newest Board Member, Carmen D. Snuggs

Carmen D. Snuggs received her bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Irvine in social ecology with an emphasis in legal studies.  She received her juris doctorate degree from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles in 2002.  After passing the Bar examination, Carmen practiced insurance defense as an associate attorney with Abeltin & Migoya in Santa Ana, California before serving as a Deputy Attorney General for 11 years in the Health, Education, and Welfare section of the California Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General.  She has been an Administrative Law Judge with the Los Angeles regional office of the Office of Administrative Hearings since December 2016.

Carmen’s volunteer work includes membership since 2012 on the Loyola Law School Alumni Board of Governors and membership with the Marina Renee Gordon Women’s Missionary Society at New Philadelphia AME Church. Carmen previously volunteered with the Legal Eagles Free Legal Clinic and she served as a tutor with the L.A. Times adult literacy program.

Long Beach Business Journal: Long Beach Public Library Foundation Announces New Boardmembers

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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.

Read a Message from Our Board President