11 Questions: Tammy Dillard-Steels

Meet the new executive director of YALSA

May 7, 2019

YALSA Executive Director Tammy Dillard-Steels

Tammy Dillard-Steels arrived at the American Library Association (ALA) in late April to head up the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of ALA. As executive director of YALSA, Dillard-Steels leads the group’s Chicago staff and nearly 5,000 members nationwide in their efforts to support librarians and library workers who work with teens.

She brings extensive experience in top roles at professional associations, including the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, the American College of Healthcare Executives, and the Academy of General Dentistry. She has graduate degrees in business and public health, and is a Certified Association Executive through the American Society of Association Executives.

Dillard-Steels answered our “11 Questions” to introduce herself to ALA members.

Coffee, tea, other?

Both, especially if it is chilly outside.  I love hot chocolate, too.

What’s the first website or app you check in the morning?

My text messages, because I put my phone on “do not disturb” after 10 p.m.

Best career advice you’ve ever received?

Find a mentor in everyone you work with; everyone has something to teach and, as a leader, you must listen.

What drew you to librarianship/ALA?

The positive impact that libraries and library staff have on young adults and communities drew me into this role. As an association professional, I’m motivated to serve those who dedicate their careers to providing a service and making a difference in the lives and opportunities of our future leaders.

Most distinct aspect of your personal office?

I haven’t had time to decorate yet. Once I’m settled at ALA, I hope to display the plates I’ve collected on my travels.

Guilty pleasure?

I am a huge fan of the Dr. Phil show. In 2016 I went to California to be in the audience, and it was an amazing experience.

First job?

My first paid job was cashier at Osco. Before that, I helped a family member on a switchboard, answering phones and connecting calls the old-fashioned way.

What do you hope to bring to ALA and members?

As a collaborator and creative entrepreneur, I’m truly excited to pursue my goals: grow YALSA membership, build partnerships, and expand equity, diversity, and inclusion programs.

If you had to choose any other profession, what would it be and why?

Improv comedian. I think fast and respond quickly, enjoy making others laugh, and admire the art of improvisation.

Book you’re reading?

Becoming by Michelle Obama.

Tools used for keeping your life organized?

On my phone: my calendar. On the work computer: Outlook.  I try to schedule and account for my time, for everything, on my calendar.


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