2018 Presenters

Connie Estades
San Juan Community Library

San Juan Community Library (SJCL) is one of only a handful of lending libraries in Puerto Rico.  It is the only lending library open to the general public in Puerto Rico’s capital city, San Juan.  The community public library such as we know in the US does not exist here.  SJCL opened in October 1987, thirty-one years ago, as the dream of several neighbors to begin a lending library in an abandoned community center for its three surrounding urbanizations.  The Library began as a total volunteer effort by staff, a part time executive director and a board of directors. 

Connie Estades is one of the original volunteers of San Juan Community Library.  The operating model of the Library has changed slightly as the executive director is now a paid, part-time position.  All of the staff are volunteers who LOVE books.  We have three librarians on staff, one of whom started as a library volunteer and now holds a MLIS and works in the library system of the University of Puerto Rico. 

Connie Estades became the executive director of San Juan Community Library in March 2003. She holds a BA in English and Dance from Mount Holyoke College and an MA in Dance and Dance Education from New York University.  At both Mount Holyoke and NYU, Connie loved to spend time at the beautiful libraries they offer. 

She writes “My love for libraries started in Hamden, CT at the local branches where I loved to walk the stacks during weekly visits there with my Mother.  I loved to look at the books and to see all that a book offered, words, pictures, knowledge, journeys and the sweet, unique smell of the Library.  I still do this at our library.  I cannot imagine a world without this opportunity, as I can remember living in Puerto Rico before the beloved San Juan Community Library came into existence.  Every day, every task I do for the Library is a joy because of my love of libraries and reading.  And among the 1,000 tasks that I do every month, my favorite one is still seeing a patron leave with a smile because of the book she/he has chosen to borrow.  It is one of the best feelings on the planet. Here’s to the public library!” 

Phil Linzini
Illinois State Bar Association 
Kavanagh, Scully, Sudow, White & Frederick, P.C

Phil received his Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude, in Philosophy and Math from Southern Illinois University in 1972. He received his Juris Doctor in the charter class of Southern Illinois University School of Law in 1976. He is licensed to practice law in the State of Illinois and also admitted to practice before the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois; the United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit; and the United States Supreme Court.

Prior to attending college and law school, Phil served as an infantry Staff Sergeant with the United States Army. He is a decorated Viet Nam veteran and was awarded two Bronze Stars, the Purple Heart, and the Air Combat Medal, among others. Phil joined Kavanagh, Scully, Sudow, White & Frederick, P.C. as an Associate in 1976 and became a Member of the Firm in 1982. He represents, as General Counsel, over 200 public libraries throughout the State of Illinois. In addition, he assists other types of local governments, including cities, villages, school districts, and park districts. He is an experienced appellate advocate and has practiced before the Illinois Appellate and Supreme Courts on numerous occasions and the US Supreme Court and Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit. He is also a published author on behalf of the Illinois State Bar Association and the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education, and has authored the Institute’s chapter on Illinois Public Libraries.  He is the principal author of the documents used on the Administrative Ready Reference, in each of the three editions.


Phil is a member of the Peoria County Bar Association and the Illinois State Bar Association. He served for over thirteen years in the ISBA Assembly of Delegates and has served on dozens of committees, section councils and task forces during his tenure. He is a regular presenter to numerous Illinois State Library Institutes, the Illinois Library Association's Annual State conventions, the Illinois Association of Park Districts State Convention and Annual Legal Symposia, and to dozens of continuing education programs for various library systems and municipal bodies. 

Amber Lowery
Peoria Public Library

Following in the footsteps of her mother, Amber Lowery has worked in libraries for over 20 years, most recently as a Reference Assistant at Peoria Public Library, working predominantly in their Local History and Genealogy department. She graduated in 2003 with a B.S. in Marketing and a B.A. in History, with a Minor in Women’s Studies from Bradley University. With a deep love for a few fandoms and a passion for genealogy, she is always working on something thrilling. Always up for a quest, Amber most recently began working with genetic genealogy and DNA research and loves to share her discoveries with others. In her not-so-spare time, she also enjoys crafting, reading, and helping others with their genealogy research.

Anita Driver


Debbie Shrewsberry
Tri-Township Public Library

Debbie Shrewsberry has worked at the Tri-Township Public Library for 11 years. During that time she also spent 2 years working at the Glen Carbon Centennial Library. Her favorite part of the job is interacting with the patrons. Debbie is the Circulation Supervisor, facilitates two books clubs, arranges theater trips for the Let’s Play group, and co-hosts the Homebound Service. She also helped the library create a program to assist low income out-of-district patrons get assistance with purchasing library cards.

Diana Brawley Susman
Carbondale Public Library 

Diana Brawley Sussman is the Director of the Carbondale Public Library, a vibrant community-centered library in a diverse university town. She is active in many local coalitions and has co-organized several community-wide large-scale programming initiatives to explore peace, compassion, social justice, and inclusion. Here to discuss emergency management and planning—from floods to vandalism—her library team has conquered a few emergencies.

Esther Curry
C.E. Brehm Memorial Public Library Distric

Esther Curry: Currently the Assistant Library Director at the C.E. Brehm Memorial Public Library District in Mt Vernon, IL. Her love of Libraries began in her wonderful Elementary and High School Libraries. However it was working in the College Library that she developed a love for working in Libraries and the way Libraries added to people’s lives.  After 10 years following another career path, she found herself working part-time at the local Public Library. With a love for technology, that a wise Library Director utilized, she found herself being mentored in Librarianship.  Eighteen years (and an MLIS) later, she still loves working in a Library and seeing the increased use of technology in the Library field.

Genna Buhr
Fondulac District Library

Although I grew up three houses behind the library and I worked at both the public and university library while in college, my "career" in libraries didn't really begin until nearly a decade later after stints in the automotive and advertising industries. The amazing support and services I witnessed while working at Alliance Library System as a Consulting and Continuing Education Specialist inspired me to earn an MLIS and to make librarianship a career. Following the system mergers, I was fortunate to find the perfect fit at Fondulac District Library, where I began as Public Services Manager. I was named Library Director in September 2015.

Janet MacAlister
Rochester Public Library District

Janet McAllister is the Director of the Rochester Public Library District. Her past speaking engagements include Reaching Forward Conference, ILA Conference, Indiana Library Association Conference and Key Note Speaker at the North Dakota Library Association Conference. Janet was part of the management team at the Glen Carbon Library who received the "Best Small Library in America" 2010.   Her other achievements include receiving the ILA Excellence in Marketing Best Branding Initiative in 2011 and received the 2012 Commitment to Community Award from Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White.

Jacque Gage
Joplin Missouri


Joanna Schultz
Effingham Public Library

With 20 years of experience in the library field, Johnna Schultz has worked in a variety of capacities in small to mid-sized libraries in East Central Illinois.  In her most recent role as Assistant Director of the Effingham Public Library, Johnna has been instrumental in more than doubling circulation and implementation of the the Forget Me Not Resource Center and Book Box.  She's also excited to be part of the Effingham Public Library Book Bike project which launches this spring.  When not reading, Johnna enjoys being with her husband, family and two dogs.

Juliette Douglas


Karla Wilkinson
Peoria Public Library

Karla Wilkinson holds a B.A. in English and Religious Studies from Bradley University and an M.L.I.S. from San Jose State University.  She has worked at Peoria Public Library for 9 years, the past 7 as a part of the Programming Department where she helps oversee programming at 5 branches and a book mobile. 

Lee Spearman
Belleville Public Library

Leander (Lee) Spearman has been director of Belleville Public Library since October of 2011. Lee was born and raised in St. Louis, Mo. Lee earned an MLS from the University of Missouri – Columbia and has for St. Louis Public Library, St. Louis County Library and St. Louis Community College Library Services. Among some of Lee’s most notable career accomplishments have been spearheading diversity initiatives at St. Louis County Library leading to a greater percentage of minority hires. Lee has overseen major construction projects at several libraries and most recently completed a 1.2 million dollars renovation of Belleville’s main library building. Lee has served on the Board of Directors of Illinois Heartland Library System and is the immediate past president of that board. Lee currently serves on the Illinois Library association Board of Directors.

Matt Harris
Mississippi Valley Library District

Matt Harris is the Youth Services Coordinator for the Mississippi Valley Library District.  He has worked for the District for 13 years and held many different positions including Page, Clerk, Interlibrary Loan Assistant, and Cataloger.  In his latest role as Youth Services Coordinator Matt works with area youth in grades 5-12 and in both of the District's Library Centers (Collinsville and Fairmont City).  He plans and hosts a number of activities including a graphic novel club, a coding club, Project Next Generation grant events, lock-ins, and the teen/tween summer reading program.

Matthew Henniger
Illinois State Library

Matt is the current Circulation Coordinator with the Illinois State Library. I was chosen to guide and maintain the Illinois State Library’s circulating Maker kit collection from the inception of the program. After participation in ILEAD USA, my team and I wrote a grant to create new technology kits for the library, culminating into what is now the SPECTRA kit program.

Megan Prueter


Randall Yelverton
Washington District Library


Ryan Johnson
O'Fallon Public Library District

Ryan Johnson has roughly eight years’ experience working in various library settings, both academic and public.  In May 2017 he finished his Master’s in Library Science through the University of Missouri.  Ryan hopes to use his experience and education to positively impact the communities in which he lives and works through dynamic library programs and services.  His current role as Assistant Director at the O’Fallon Public Library has provided excellent opportunities to develop leadership skills, create innovative services, and connect with the community.  He finds serving the community and helping individuals fulfilling and motivating.  

Ryan earned his Bachelor’s in History from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in 2007 and spent a few years teaching between library gigs.  His background in education has served him well in helping patrons learn new technology and navigate unfamiliar resources. 

Sara Zumwalt


Sargent Matt Breiham
Edwardsville Police Department

Sergeant Matt Breihan has been with the Edwardsville Police Department since 2002. He attended Southern Illinois University of Edwardsville and obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and is also a graduate of Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command.  Currently Sergeant Breihan is currently assigned as the School Resource Officer Coordinator, the Edwardsville Police Department’s Training Coordinator, Range Master and 4E’s instructor.

Terry Pierson
Mississippi Valley Library District

Terry Pierson is the Marketing Coordinator for the Mississippi Valley Library District. He is responsible for all of the programming and marketing in the Collinsville and Fairmont City Library Centers. Since starting with the District in 2012, Terry has advanced from Page to Clerk to Marketing Coordinator. In his spare time Terry is an avid gamer, a passion he was able to unite with work when he helped bring video game collections and programs to the District. Terry received his Bachelor’s Degree in Film and Media Studies from Arizona State University.

Tambree Krouse
Southern Illinois Reading Council

Tambree Krouse has been the  PreK-12 librarian in the Edwards County School District for 24 years. She has had a life-long love of reading and libraries.  Tambree has been involved in the Illinois student choice awards: the Monarch, Bluestem, Rebecca Caudill, and the Lincoln Award for several years.  She has served as president of the Southeastern Reading Council of the Illinois Reading Council. This spring the Southeastern Reading Council provided book activities for the attendees of the Southern Illinois Reads Book Festival held in Du Quoin.  . 

Vicki Funneman
Effingham Public Library

Vicki Funneman, Programming Coordinator, has been in the Youth Service Department of the Effingham Public Library for the past 6 years.  Responsible for creating and delivering engaging children's programs as well as youth collection development, she is also instrumental in the Effingham Public Library Book Bike and other outreach projects.