The Indianapolis Public Library (IndyPL) welcomes Keesha Hughes as its new diversity, equity & inclusion officer. Hughes most recently worked as the communications director and anti-racism committee leader at Perry Township Schools.
“We live in a city with people representing various races, ethnicities, gender identities and expressions, and socioeconomic backgrounds,” said Hughes. “To best serve diverse employees and patrons, we need to make every effort to help everyone feel welcome and included. It is a privilege to lead this effort in such a pivotal organization in Indianapolis.”
“The library has an important role in the community and being a leader in diversity, equity and inclusion is critical to our organization and the community as a whole,” said John Helling, IndyPL interim chief executive officer. “In this role, Keesha’s contributions will resonate throughout the city.”
“I am excited that Keesha Hughes has joined the library team. She came to us already accomplished and started right away to take on vital work at hand,” said Hope Tribble, IndyPL board member. “Her leadership and insight will not only support our deepening look at diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace but also help us to realize the goals outlined in the library’s strategic plan. We are fortunate to have her aboard.”
Hughes, a certified diversity professional, began her career in broadcast journalism. Her experiences as a communications professional impacts her DEI work.
“Effective DEI work, like journalism, can speak truth to power and hold people accountable for their actions,” said Hughes. “I’ve worked in places where I did not feel welcome or respected. On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve worked for organizations that made thoughtful, sincere decisions to create safe, equitable environments where we recognize and respect everyone’s differences, allow people to be themselves and remove barriers that prevent individuals from thriving.”
As IndyPL’s diversity, equity & inclusion officer, Hughes will help the library assess, design, develop, implement, research and evaluate diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives appropriate to organizational values, goals and strategic priorities of the library. From buying books by marginalized authors to advancing equity through contracts and purchasing, she feels DEI support can keep staff in tune with the needs and aspirations of the local community. Internally, she hopes staff will feel they have a safe place to seek support.
Hughes began her new role Nov. 1, 2021 and has been involved in IndyPL’s climate improvement process. This work, led independently by the Ice Miller Racial Equity Solutions group, is examining the library’s policies, procedures and employee perceptions of diversity, equity and inclusion.