brochure 1.png

About Us

FOSEL has built on the efforts of many previous and current South End residents who have advocated and volunteered since the branch opened at its present location, on Tremont Street between Rutland Square and West Newton Street, in 1971.  In 2008,  FOSEL became a charitable, non-profit under Section 501(C)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Its EIN is 26-2025971.

From left to right: Licia Sky, Don Haber, Maura Harrington, Michael Fox, Liane Crawford, Ed Hostetter, Jackie McRath, Marleen Nienhuis, State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, Kim Clark, Barbara Sommerfeld, Michelle Laboy, Marilyn Davillier, Chris Fagg. Taken at the 2018 Annual Meeting at the SE Library.

From left to right: Licia Sky, Don Haber, Maura Harrington, Michael Fox, Liane Crawford, Ed Hostetter, Jackie McRath, Marleen Nienhuis, State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, Kim Clark, Barbara Sommerfeld, Michelle Laboy, Marilyn Davillier, Chris Fagg. Taken at the 2018 Annual Meeting at the SE Library.

Our 2018-2020 voting and advisory board consists of the following volunteers, listed alphabetically:


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. Gary is interested in the issue of homelessness as it affects libraries and hopes to create programming with his students to serve them.

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. She is actively involved in the South End Writes program.

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 and her husband, child development researcher Edward Tronick, 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.

Marleen Nienhuis: Marleen 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 and physical improvements. Over the years, with the FOSEL board, she organized the South End Writes author series, the summer Jazz & Blues concerts with Pat Loomis, the Library Park Easter Egg Hunt, the Local/Focus window installations (spearheaded by Karen Watson) and the Award Winning Books window (wits Jennifer Watson and Reinhold Mahler). She resigned as president of FOSEL in 2010, but returned as president in 2014. In the 1990s, she was treasurer and president of the Friends of Titus Sparrow Park when the park was lobbying for its renovation, and helped create the Titus Sparrow Park summer programming for children and 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. 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.

Jennifer Watson: Jenni is Chief of Staff at Boston Medical Center in the South End and also serves as Deputy Executive Director of the hospital’s Grayken Center for Addiction. Prior to joining BMC, she served as director of a global health program based at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and as Communications Director for Partners HealthCare. Her background also includes senior level communications positions in state and federal government. Jenni has lived in the South End since 1996 and is an avid reader and library lover. She has been actively involved in launching the library’s Award Winning Books window.

Duncan Will: Duncan is retired after a career in independent school administration, including 25 years at Phillips Academy in Andover. 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. He is actively engaged in the Local/Focus installations.


Nick Altschuller: Nick is a freelance writer and editor. He earned his MA in Magazine Writing from the Missouri School of Journalism and is the former managing editor of The Improper Bostonian. He is currently at work on his first novel, in addition to helping other writers shape their manuscripts. Nick lives on Appleton Street with his wife and son and active in the South End Writes program.. 

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 makes excellent recommendations for all FOSEL programming.

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 Cox: Michael Cox 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. He volunteers enthusiastically for South End Writes.

Gail Ide: Gail and her family have lived next to the library for decades and were the earliest advocates for the South End branch since it opened in 1971. She works as a landscape and design consultant for a local architecture firm.

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. He also serves on the Advisory Board for JP Reads, a community-wide literary celebration ( Professionally, he is an attorney who also serves as vice-president of the Jamaica Hills Neighborhood Association.

Maura Harrington: Maura moved to the South End in 2013 but lived her entire life in and around Boston. Her professional career as a Group Health Underwriter for Prudential Insurance was paused to devote time to raising two children. 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. 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. 

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. After some 30 years of work within his own neighborhood association, Steve was one of the original founders and 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.

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.

Reinhold Mahler:
Reinhold is a retired associate professor of architecture. He taught at the Technical University of Munich, was a guest professor at the University of Virginia and moved to Boston in 1989 to teach at Roger Williams University in Bristol, RI. After retiring, he opened Encore Bed and Breakfast in his home adjacent to the South End library with his husband David Miller, who established the fringe theater company, Zeitgeist Stage Company. Reinhold developed all the graphic and website design for Zeitgeist after taking a few courses at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and studying Digital Collage with the fabulous teacher, Fran Forman. He has made many contributions to improve FOSEL’s Local/Focus and Award Winning Books programs.

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 arts and culture events 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.

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.

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.

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


The Friends of the South End Library, Inc., (FOSEL) is dedicated to supporting the South End library and adjacent Library Park, and raising funds for programming and physical improvements.


FOSEL has sponsored programming it created for children, teens, adults and seniors, and initiatives requested by library staff. FOSEL-sponsored programs include the popular Easter Egg Hunt, the author series The South End Writes/The Library Invites; the Local/Focus Project to use the Tremont Street window(s) to showcase local artists, creative entrepreneurs, and non-profits within the mission of the library; the Award Winning Books window; the summer Jazz & Blues concert series with Pat Loomis and Friends in Library Park; and the Holiday Party with Pat Loomis's band that also features a festive meal prepared by FOSEL volunteers and local businesses. 


We have installed and planted tree pits around the library on Tremont and West Newton Streets;
swept, cleaned up, watered and planted sections of Library Park; lobbied local nurseries (Mahoney's Garden Center and Urbgardens) to donate their plantings and services; refurbished and repaired the library's seating area; re-upholstered and repaired the staff's circulation counter; completed handicapped accessibility at the library by getting automatic door-openers installed; replaced unattractive signage for the South End branch with beautiful new signage on its Tremont Street side; refinished and repaired seven oak library tables; paid for carpet cleaning and window washing; and, in 2016 repaired, refurbished and reinstalled the falling-down large drapes in the second-floor community room. Last year, with the help of the Mayor's Office for Urban Mechanics, two colorful groundwater-regulating /solar-energy powered LightWell installations created by the award-winning team of Fieldworkshop were placed in Library Park to provide a lively presence in the park at night and to promote sustainable water filtration and groundwater protection.

In 2018, the Parks Department began an overhaul and redesign of Library Park, for which $150,000 had been allocated two years ago by the Mayor's Office at the request of FOSEL. After deducting costs for design services, $115,000 was be spent on the initial improvements, details of which can be found at the Parks Department website, linked here.  

Most recently, FOSEL has been able to obtain capital funding from the City of Boston and the BPL to begin a limited renovation of the branch to take place in the fall of 2019 while awaiting a Programming Study’s result to plan a multi-million-dollar renovation and expansion of the library within three to five years after that. The $100,000 study has been funded and is expected to begin in FY 2020. A Programming Study will come with a proposed budget and is typically followed by a Design Study with an architect, which leads to the funding of the renovation project in the city’s capital budget.

FOSEL has successfully supplemented a $132,000 BPL allocation for the limited renovation with more than $95,000 in private funds raised from our board and the South End community in 2018. For the fall 2019 improvement, FOSEL contributed $50,000 for new furnishings to supplement the $132,000 for new flooring, painting, additional electrical outlets, upholstery and reconfiguration of space.

Board of Directors


President: Marleen Nienhuis
(2 Yr term - expires Jan. 2020)
Treasurer: Barbara Sommerfeld
(2 Yr term - expires Jan. 2020)
Clerk/Secretary: Kim Clark
(2 Yr term - expires Jan. 2020)

(1 Yr terms - expire Jan. 2019)

Gary Bailey, Marilyn Davillier, Jennifer Watson, Duncan Will

Advisory Board:

(1 Yr terms - expire Jan. 2019)

Nick Altschuller, Liane Crawford, Susanna Coit. Michael Cox, Don Haber, Gail Ide, Stephen Fox, Maura Harrington, Michelle Laboy, Reinhold Mahler, Jaqueline McRath, Licia Sky, Anne Smart