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You're invited to the Annual Meeting of the Friends of the South end Library: Elect a new board, meet BPL president David Leonard, and hear the latest about library and park renovation

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The Friends of the South End Library will propose their next board on Tuesday, January 30 at 6:30 PM at the South End branch and you, the audience will have the last word.  Among those attending will be BPL president David Leonard, who also serves on the Friends' Honorary Fundraising Committee.

FOSEL voting members who are directors  serve one-year terms while the officers (president, treasurer and clerk), stay on for two years. It is a diverse volunteer board, united in its commitment to the well-being of the South End branch. Some members are more active than others at different times, depending on their personal and professional obligations, but each has contributed to the improvement of the library. This year, all the terms are up, so new officers and directors will be elected and/or re-elected by none other than you, the audience.

The proposed slate for the 2018-2020 term is as follows:

Officers: Kim Clark, clerk; Marleen Nienhuis, president; Barbara Sommerfeld, treasurer.

Directors: Gary Bailey; Marilyn Davillier; Maura Harrington; Licia Sky; Duncan Will.

Advisors: Liane Crawford; Susanna Coit; Michael Fox; Don Haber; Ed Hostetter; Stephen Fox; Michelle Laboy; Jackie McRath; Jon Santiago; Anne Smart; Lois Russell; Karen Watson

Who Are the Candidates?


Kim Clark: Kim is the founder of Polished Professionals Boston, a consulting practice that provides business strategy development and marketing solutions. She facilitates strategy-planning sessions in the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors and instructs aspiring entrepreneurs in the process of writing business plans. Kim is experienced in marketing and sales, creating and implementing strategic plans; participating in branding campaigns; forging relationships with decision makers and strategic partners; participating in the launch of new products; and managing a high-volume sales territory.

Marleen Nienhuis: Marleen became a library advocate when she moved to West Newton Street in 2003 from Durham Street and found the small branch within walking distance. She formalized an already existing and devoted South End Library Friends group into a 501C3 non-profit in 2008, enabling it to raise funds for programming. With many others, she fought the proposed library closures in 2010. With the first FOSEL board, she organized the South End Writes author series, the summer jazz concerts, the Library Park Easter Egg Hunt and raised funds for various programs the South End library staff requested. She resigned as president of FOSEL in 2010, but returned as FOSEL president in 2016. Before becoming a library advocate, she was treasurer and president of the Friends of Titus Sparrow Park in the 1990s when the park was lobbying for its renovation, and helped create the Titus Sparrow Park summer programming for children, and the music programs. She is the membership chair of the Rutland Square Association.

Barbara Sommerfeld: Barbara has lived in the South End for 45 years and raised two sons in the neighborhood. Now retired, after a career in elementary school teaching and text publishing, she received her MBA from Northeastern University and worked on the business side of non-profit organizations for 35 years. She has served as the treasurer of FOSEL since 2010.  She was a tutor for K-3 reading program at St. Stephens’s after-school program and is currently tutoring at the Blackstone School reading program run by Generations, Inc. Barbara is proud of the staff and programs of the South End library and welcomes the opportunity to continue her association with this pillar of the neighborhood.

Gary Bailey: Gary is Professor of Practice at Simmons College School of Social Work where he directs the Urban Leadership and Clinical Social Work Certificate Program and coordinates the Dynamics of Racism and Oppression Sequence. He has a secondary appointment at the Simmons College School of Nursing and Health Sciences, where he also serves as Special Assistant to the Dean for Inter-Professional Education. Gary has a Faculty Affiliate appointment at Harvard Medical School Center for Primary Care and is a consultant to Fenway Health Department of Behavioral Health, among his many affiliations. In addition, he is a member of several local boards, including the Fenway High School, the Friends of Harriet Tubman Park, and the Friends of Titus Sparrow Park. He is a trustee of the Union United Methodist Church, and a member of the Union United Methodist Church Leadership Team. Gary is interested in the issue of homelessness as they affect libraries.

Marilyn Davillier: Marilyn is a licensed clinical social worker in private practice in Boston and an internationally known clinician in Child-Parent Mental Health. She provides therapeutic and consultation services for parenting support, child treatment and family mental health. She is the co-director and curriculum coordinator for the Infant-Parent Mental Health Fellowship Program at University of Massachusetts, Boston. She and her husband, child development researcher Edward Tronick, have been South End residents since 2003. They are keen to develop a series of parenting forums that pulls from their combined professional expertise, as a public service to their South End neighbors.

Maura Harrington: Maura moved to the South End in 2013 but lived her entire life in greater Boston. Her professional career as a Group Health Underwriter for Prudential Insurance was paused to devote time to raising two children, now 21 and 23. Maura devotes her time to the CARES Pastoral Ministry and the Rainbow Ministry at St. Cecilia Parish. The main focus of her efforts are the rights and needs of the elderly, the homeless and the LGBTQ community. She has worked on the improvement and conservation of neighborhood treasures, such as the library and adjacent Library Park, as part of that interest. Besides FOSEL, she lends energy and support to the McKinley School, Boston Explorers Urban Camp, USES, The Southwest Corridor Park Conservancy, Boston Ballet and the BCA. 

Licia Sky: Licia is a singer-songwriter, playwright, and South End resident. She leads writing retreats and experiential movement and vocalizing workshops to facilitate self-awareness and connection with others. In the late nineties, she ran a poetry and music “open mic” for three years. She would like to start an “open mic” reading for the community through the South End library.

Duncan Will: Duncan is retired after a career in independent school administration, including 25 years at Phillips Academy in Andover. He became a full-time resident of Concord Square last September but split his time between there and Nantucket since 2012. Duncan volunteered for the Nantucket public library, the Atheneum. Since moving to the South End, Duncan, guided by his friend and FOSEL board member Maura Harrington, has become a regular volunteer at Community Servings, the Pine Street Inn and the Boston Center for the Arts. In his spare time, Duncan enjoys weekly oil painting classes at the MFA and making paintings in his studio/apartment.


Liane Crawford: Liane has been a South End resident for forty years and, with her husband Don, raised their three now-adult children here. Liane has served as board member for various organizations, including the board of the Eastern CT Symphony Orchestra and the Community Music Center of Boston Corporation. Liane worked closely with USES on the reopening celebration of the Children's Art Centre. Her background is in finance, marketing and fundraising. She currently consults for non-profit organizations.

Susanna Coit: Susanna is the Archives and Research Library assistant at Perkins School for the Blind. She has an MSLIS in Archives Management from Simmons School of Library and Information Science. She helped bring the Local/Focus window for the Perkins School for the Blind to the library.

Michael Fox: Michael Fox moved to the South End four years ago from Utah to participate in the city’s energetic startup culture. Subsequently, he’s worked at a variety of new businesses in an assortment of roles – he has made educational videos at MIT, written online journalism, and worked as a private chef. Along the way, he actively participates in Boston’s vibrant cultural scene – specializing in film, theatre, and literature – and writing for professional organizations like the Independent Reviewers of New England and the Boston Online Film Critics Association. Some of Michael’s plays have been produced in theaters across the country, and his films have been screened in festivals throughout the world. Michael actively uses the library for its many resources, but he has a special interest in the author series. He would like to help the Friends of the South End Library with programming and promotion.

Don Haber: Don Haber is co-chair of the Friends of the Jamaica Plain Branch Library, the oldest Friends group in the BPL system (est. 1952) ( He began advocating for renovation of the JP Branch 14 years ago; last May it reopened after a $10 million renovation to spectacular reviews. For the past several years, he has attended most BPL Trustees meetings with Marleen Nienhuis. When the JP Branch was targeted for closure in 2009/10, he helped mobilize the effort to save all branches from closure. He also serves on the Advisory Board for JP Reads, a community-wide literary celebration ( Professionally, he is an attorney who works from home in Jamaica Plain. He also serves as vice-president of the Jamaica Hills Neighborhood Association.

Ed Hostetter:  Ed, the happy father of two young men, moved into the South End in 2012 from Pittsburgh, PA. During his thirty-plus years in Pittsburgh, Ed’s days were filled with parenting, husbanding and sundry vocations, including school teaching, fine carpentry and remodeling (20 years plus), and psychiatric nursing (adolescent/young adult).  Presently, Ed invests a lot of his time on two programs, 1) Bridge over Troubled Water for homeless youth, tutoring math in the HiSet program, and 2) South-West Corridor Park, helping various plantings survive the challenges of the urban environment. Ed and his wife are thrilled to call the corner of Columbus Ave and West Newton Street “home.”

Stephen Fox: Steve came to Boston in 1972 to go to grad school and never left except for a three-year posting in Washington, D.C. in corporate government relations. He worked in educational research and consulting and was tapped by Mayor Kevin White as Special Assistant for Education Policy; shortly thereafter he became the mayor's Executive Assistant, working closely with all city departments, the Boston City Council, and constituencies and neighborhoods citywide. In the private sector, he was the Asia-Pacific Trade & Government Relations Manager for Digital Equipment Corporation and became its the Worldwide Trade Manager. When Compaq and then Hewlett-Packard merged with Digital, Steve declined to leave Boston for Texas or Palo Alto and went to work for a health care technology start-up founded by Tufts Medical Center CEO and Harvard research physician Jerry Grossman. After some 30 years of work within his own neighborhood association, Steve was one of the original founders, and now current chair, of the South End Forum. The Forum is the first South End-wide association to represent the common interests and initiatives of the now fifteen independent neighborhood and two business associations of the South End. Steve has been a long-time advocate for the library and its park at city agencies and with city officials, and will continue to play that role. He lives on Rutland Square.

Michelle Laboy: Michelle is trained as an architect, urban planner and civil engineer and teaches architecture at Northeastern University. She also practices as an architect. She has lived in the South End for six years with her architect husband. Most of her work has been high-end residential and school projects, which are deeply focused on creating a meaningful connection between inside and outside. She and her husband won a City of Boston’s public-space award for the Library Park sustainable groundwater installations, the LightWells. Michelle was the moving force behind the multi-phased South End library renovation proposal, which is now receiving its first funding allocations.

Jaqueline L. McRath: Jackie has lived in the South End for more than forty years, and feels that the library is one of the most treasured community resources.  She recycles her Boston Globe to the library and is a grateful recipient of free books ("Open to All") on the library's front entrance cart. She frequently takes children's books from the cart to the pediatric unit of the South End Health Center.  She has taken memoir writing at the Dudley Branch and would love to see such workshops given at the South End Branch. Jackie has published travel articles and poems, and covered FESTAC, 2nd WORLD BLACK AND AFRICAN FESTIVAL OF ARTS AND CULTURE for the Bay State Banner.  She chairs the Theresa-India Young Scholarship Committee, which awards a scholarship in the Fibers Dept. at Mass Art. She is currently researching the life and works of Beat Generation Jazz Action surrealist poet, Ted Joans, and, most recently, provided full technical support to the Haitian surrealist painter, Patrick Gerald Wah.

.Jon Santiago: Jon is a South End resident and emergency medicine physician at Boston Medical Center. Prior to completing medical school at Yale University, he spent five years abroad working in community development and public health. His experiences growing up in Roxbury have led him back to Boston where he remains engaged in issues affecting underserved communities. A big believer in public service, he is a captain in the Army Reserve and a former Peace Corps Volunteer. He looks forward to making the sure the library remains a valued and utilized resource in the South End. 

Anne Smart: Anne Smart has been an employee at the Boston Public Library for 25 years.  Prior to working at the South End branch, she was in East Boston and Charlestown branches.  She has been at the South End library for 20 years.  She is a member of the board at the South End Historical Society, United South End Artists, and the Blackstone Community Center.  She was raised on the South Shore and received her Master of Library Science degree from the University of North Texas.

 Lois Russel: Lois Russell, a former journalist, is a fiber artist and basket maker whose sculptural work appears in national exhibitions and publications.  The former president of the National Basketry Organization, she currently serves on the boards of the Craft Emergency Relief Fund, the Society of Arts and Crafts in Boston and Planned Parenthood of Massachusetts. She is a graduate of Simmons College and Stanford University. Lois is interested in developing arts and public-health programming for the library, in collaboration with other board members.

Karen Watson: Karen Watson has lived and worked in the Boston area for the past 20 years. She is a former board member of Outward Bound International, YMCA, and Thompson Island Outward Bound. Connecting the local creative community with the South End library to enhance the entire community is a goal she would like to pursue for the benefit of all involved. Karen has been the moving force behind the Local/Focus window installation project at the South End branch, which connects local artists, creative entrepreneurs and non-profits to the library and the community.

Are you interested in joining the board? Let us know by contacting us at 

The Friends have a voting board and an advisory board. Members of each participate in the meetings, email exchanges and volunteer activities as they are able to. Apart from the scheduled Annual Meeting at the end of January/beginning of February, the board(s) meet three of four times a year at a time convenient to all, either at the South End library, when it is open at night, or at the home of a board member. 

The Friends are looking for library supporters to join either board who can assist us with the projects we are currently sponsoring. No financial commitments are required. They include:

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1. Raising funds for the second phase of the planned interior renovation of the South End branch, a unique joint partnership between the BPL and the Friends: We are the first local library Friends group in Boston that has collected private funds for a branch's capital renovation. For the first phase, we have exceeded our fundraising goal of $50,000 by $30,000. We expect to do well in the second phase and..believe it or is fun to ask for money for a great institution such as a local library that is so popular among its users. You can do it, too. For details, visit the Capital Campaign page, linked here.

Head librarian, Anne Smart, with celebrated  South End Writes author,  Junot Diaz, January 2017

Head librarian, Anne Smart, with celebrated South End Writes author, Junot Diaz, January 2017

2. The South End Writes authors program has brought famous and not-yet-famous, but always excellent, local authors and luminaries to the library for more than seven years, providing audiences with evenings of laughter, illumination and revelation. Board members Invite speakers who will be of interest to local residents, and help plan and promote the event. Over the years, nearly every board member has suggested an author or speaker, and none has ever disappointed. For a list of past speakers, click here.

The January 2018 Local/Focus window by local theatre company,  Zeitgeist Stage

The January 2018 Local/Focus window by local theatre company, Zeitgeist Stage

3. Local/Focus is the most recent program initiated by the Friends that uses the South End branch's prominent Tremont Street windows as a mirror of the neighborhood it is located in. The mission of Local/Focus is to connect the South End library to local artists, non-profits, and creative entrepreneurs by offering installations in the Tremont Street window that showcase what they are about. Now in its second year, the richness of the South End neighborhood has provided an endless source of possible displays. Thus far, we have featured artists like wire sculptor Will Corcoran, painter Paul Goodnight, decoupage artist Jenn Sherr, ceramicist Lori Pease, fiber artists The South End Knitters, and photographer Greg Jundanian; non-profits like the Children's Arts CentreMass Audubon, the Perkins School for the Blind, the Society for Arts and Crafts, and educational publisher, Language Together. In addition, the on-line local retailer, Smiling Button, had a display of dresses patterned after garb from children's literature, and Fieldworkshop, a local architectural team, created an installation demonstrating the sustainable groundwater systems of the Lightwells in Library Park. In January, we feature be an award winning local theatre company, Zeitgeist Stage, and, in February, we will showcase the beloved Community Music Center of Boston. For more details, click on  the posting linked here. Help make it happen: join the Friends' board and organize future Local/Focus exhibits of organizations and/or artists you think need to be known better...

4. Summer concerts in Library Park: Since 2009, Pat Loomis and his Friends have produced four very popular jazz & blues concerts each summer.  You can help with additional musical events, and/or expand the current series, especially once Library Park will have been renovated, later this summer. 

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