Philadelphia, PA - A. Morris Williams, Jr. Chairman of The Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation Board of Directors, today announced the appointment of Linda E. Johnson of Philadelphia as CEO of the Library Foundation.
The Free Library Foundation serves as the fundraising arm of the Free Library and in recent years has focused on major capital improvements to the entire library system. The successful renovation of 52 neighborhood branches was a public/private partnership overseen by the Foundation which will assume the same role in the current campaign to renovate and expand the Central Library.
Williams noted that this is a new position focusing primarily on the Central Library campaign and project. “Linda’s leadership will ensure we are on target in our fundraising efforts; that the building project moves forward in a timely fashion; and that it remains as close to budget as possible in this competitive construction climate,” said Mr. Williams.
Ms. Johnson will undertake her duties immediately, reporting directly to the Chairman of the Foundation Board and working closely with Elliot L. Shelkrot, President and Director of the Library.
“I am delighted to have Linda on board to guide this extraordinary project,” said Shelkrot. “She not only brings a strong business and non-profit background to the effort, but also has been a dedicated board member with a passion for the library and all that it means for the people of our city and region.”
In accepting the position, Ms. Johnson said, “My involvement with the Library over the past decade has been important to me and I am thrilled to be involved with a project of such magnitude and impact - one that we hope will set standards for life-long learning in the 21st century. For years, in both my professional life and community involvements, I have been thinking about how technology affects the way we all receive and analyze information. The vision for a new Central Library is one of cutting edge technology with 300 public access computers, unparalleled educational resources, and light-filled spaces. Not only will the 80-year-old spectacular Beaux Arts building be restored, but a major new addition will add a significant architectural achievement to the revitalized Parkway. A civic gathering space in the 160,000 square foot addition will be designed to bring the community together to discuss important issues of the day and learn from the most influential writers of our time.”
Ms. Johnson was born and raised in the greater Philadelphia area. She received her undergraduate degree from Hamilton College in Clinton, New York; a J.D. from Suffolk University in Boston, Massachusetts and an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
She began her professional career with the law firm of Greenberg & Prior in Princeton, New Jersey, which later merged with the Newark, New Jersey firm of Sills Cummis Epstein & Gross. She left the firm to join JCI Data Processing, Inc., an information technology company providing information services to magazine publishers and direct marketers, as well as payroll and human resources processing services. She served as JCI’s president from 1994 until the company was sold in 2004.
Ms. Johnson has served as a trustee for a number of not-for-profit organizations, including the Free Library of Philadelphia, Germantown Friends School, Hamilton College-where she chairs the visual and performing arts facilities committee, The National Constitution Center-where she is on the executive committee, and Albert Einstein Healthcare Network.
Ms. Johnson commented, “I am looking forward to this next stage in my career and feel fortunate to have an opportunity to give back to the City where I was raised and to the community for which I care so deeply.”
World renowned architect Moshe Safdie was chosen to design the new addition and oversee the historic renovation work of the Central Library. A special exhibition focusing on the history of the library and his plans for the new Central will open to the public, free of charge, in the lobby of the Central Library in November. A model of the proposed facility will be part of the exhibition. Working closely with Moshe Safdie and Associates are Philadelphia architects Kelly/Maiello and Frances Kauffman Foley and Hoffman.
Highlights of the New Central Library include a new Children’s Department, a Teen Center, a new auditorium, internet browsing centers, wireless service, a new Visual and Performing Arts Department, and a Parkway Pavilion providing retail, meeting rooms, and a Visitors Center for Parkway institutions.
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