Beyond Barriers: Conversations on Equity in Information Conference

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April 4, 2024
11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Event category: Conference
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The School of Information Sciences will host its first Beyond Barriers: Conversations on Equity in Information Conference from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET on Thursday, April 4.

The topic of this virtual mini conference is Diverse Youth Literature and will feature guest speakers, student presentations and a faculty panel discussion. 

Featured Speakers:

Desiree Cooper

A 2015 Kresge Artist Fellow, Desiree Cooper is a former attorney, Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist and community activist. She is an evocative speaker on the themes of racial and gender equality, reproductive freedom, family-positive public policy and the welfare of women and girls.

Cooper’s latest publication is a children’s picture book, Nothing Special, published by the Wayne State University Press. The book is based upon the friendship between her father and grandson. It has earned a starred review from Booklist, inclusion in the New York Public Library’s list of the Top Ten Children’s Books of 2022, and winner of the 2023 Paterson Prize for Books for Young People. She was a founding board member of Cave Canem, a national residency for black poets, and has received residencies at Kimbilio and Ragdale.

Having forged a 30-year career in Detroit, she now lives in the Virginia Beach area where she cares for her aging mother and raises her three grandchildren.

Sarah Park Dahlen

Sarah Park Dahlen joined the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois as an associate professor in August 2021. She previously served as an associate professor of library and information science at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Dahlen's research addresses Korean adoption in children’s literature, Frank Carpenter and Frances Carpenter’s writings for children, and diversity in children's literature and library education. She is co-editor of the scholarly journal Research on Diversity in Youth Literature, with Sonia Alejandra Rodríguez; co-editor of Harry Potter and the Other: Race, Justice, and Difference in the Wizarding World (2022) with Ebony Elizabeth Thomas; and co-creator of the 2015 and 2018 Diversity in Children's Books Infographics, with David Huyck, which are based on data from the Cooperative Children's Book Center at the School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Her honors include the Leadership Award from the iSchool's Alumni Association (2016), Faculty Teaching and Advising Award from St. Catherine University (2021), and the Mentoring Award from the Children's Literature Association (2021). She has served on several children's book award committees, including the National Book Award jury for Young People's Literature, and curates the youth literature programming at the Asian American Literature Festival hosted by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and the Library of Congress.

Mimi Olson

Melissa "Mimi" Olson is an award-winning writer recognized as a Highlights Author of the Month. Olson’s debut novel Middle School is No Place for Magic, published by Fifth Avenue Press, was listed as an Amazon Hot New Release, #1 in the Teen and YA Fiction Category: Being a Teen. A former journalist and communications specialist, Mimi has been writing, presenting, and developing workshops for over 25 years. Her current workshop is a creative writing workshop for middle schoolers titled Finding Your Spark! that is available both in-person and virtually. Publications include pieces in Metro Parent, Jack and Jill, High Five Magazine, Pulse, and Highlights. Mimi lives in Ann Arbor with her husband, daughter, and two very spoiled cats.

Sonia Alejandra Rodriguez

Sonia Alejandra Rodríguez (she/they) is a Professor in the English Department at LaGuardia Community College, CUNY, where they teach composition, literature, and creative writing.

Sonia Alejandra received their Ph.D. in English from the Department of English at the University of California, Riverside. Their research introduces “conocimiento narratives” as a way to read realist fiction within Latinx children’s and young adult literature. They are currently working on a monograph on this topic.

Sonia Alejandra earned an MFA in Creative Writing (Fiction) from The City College of New York (CUNY). They’ve participated in writing workshops at Tin House, VONA, and Kweli.

April 2024