A five-member board of trustees governs The Seattle Public Library. Chief Librarian Tom Fay oversees the organization.
Chief Librarian Tom Fay
On Wednesday, March 2, 2022, The Seattle Public Library’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously to select Tom Fay as the new Executive Director and Chief Librarian of The Seattle Public Library. The vote marked the culmination of a national search for the Library’s next Chief Librarian.
Since 2015, Fay served as the Library’s Director of Programs and Services, directing the Library’s Public Services and Programs, Collections, Materials Handling, and Information Technology departments at Seattle’s downtown Central Library and all 26 neighborhood branches.
In April 2021, The Board appointed Fay to serve as Interim Chief Librarian, while the Board conducted a national search.
As a native of southern Nevada, Fay’s 38-year career in libraries began as a page for the Las Vegas Clark County Library District. Prior to joining The Seattle Public Library as Director of Programs and Services in 2015, he held roles as the Executive Director of Henderson Libraries in Nevada and the Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer of Las Vegas Clark County Library District in Nevada.
Fay graduated with a Fine Arts degree from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and a Masters in Library and Information Science from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. He has been awarded the O’Callaghan Public Sector Person of the Year and selected as Nevada’s Librarian of the Year.
Fay enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter in the great outdoors of the Pacific Northwest.
Library Board of Trustees
A five-member board of trustees governs your Library. All trustees are appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the Seattle City Council. Board members serve five-year terms without pay. The board meets monthly to discuss issues and make decisions related to our services and operations.
Carmen Bendixen, president
Bendixen was appointed to the Library Board by Mayor Jenny Durkan in April 2020. She has been employed at Washington State Ferries for over 5 years, where her responsibilities have included transportation and land use planning, community outreach, and public policy analysis. She has been a member of the Friends of The Seattle Public Library board of trustees since 2011, where she has served as board president, vice president, and secretary. On behalf of the Friends of the Library, Bendixen helped lead advocacy efforts during the 2012 and 2019 Library Levy campaigns. She has also been a Welcome Desk and events volunteer at the Central Library, and is a regular user of the Greenwood and Green Lake branches. Bendixen has a bachelor’s degree from Willamette University, and a master’s degree in City Planning from the University of Pennsylvania.
W. Tali Hairston, Ph.D., vice president
W. Tali Hairston, Ph.D. was appointed to the Library Board by Mayor Jenny Durkan in March 2020 and reappointed by Mayor Harrell in May 2023. He currently directs a Lilly Endowment-funded program for the Seattle Presbytery and is the owner of Equitable Development LLC, an education research and community development firm. Dr. Hairston is a published researcher and co-principal investigator for university physics and equity research work under multiple National Science Foundation awards. He is also a recognized scholar on faith, race, liberation, and international community development. Nationally and internationally, Dr. Hairston serves executive leaders, municipalities, non-profits, denominations, schools, universities, and for-profits, including projects in Colombia, Cambodia, South Africa, Jamaica, and Vietnam. He was awarded the Jurisprudence Champion Award – Section on Public Law and Administration (2016) for contributions to the practice of public law and administration and awarded the Franklin High School Public Service Academy “Spirit of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Service Award” (January 2017). Since 2018, his portfolio includes over $350 million in community and public fund investments and projects. Tali is the father of four amazing young adults and is married to Crystal; they live in the Rainier Beach neighborhood of Seattle.
Ron Chew was appointed to the Library Board by Mayor Ed Murray in September 2016 and reappointed by Mayor Jenny Durkan in May 2021. Chew is principal of Chew Communications, a Seattle-based consulting firm documenting local community history. From 2010 to 2020, he served as executive director of the International Community Health Services Foundation where he raised funds to support a network of community health clinics serving Asian-American/Pacific Islander immigrants and refugees, as well as other underserved populations. Previously, he served as executive director of the Wing Luke Museum where he spearheaded a $23 million capital campaign to build the new museum. Chew also worked for over 13 years as editor of the International Examiner, a newspaper in Seattle's Chinatown-International District. Chew is a lifelong Seattle resident. He graduated from Franklin High School and attended the University of Washington, where he majored in journalism. In 2001, Chew was appointed to the National Council on the Humanities by President Bill Clinton. He has also been a recipient of the Ford Foundation's "Leadership for a Changing World" award and a "Centennial Honor Roll" honoree from the Association of American Museums. Chew served on The Seattle Public Library Foundation board of directors during the successful 1998 "Libraries for All" capital campaign.
Yazmin Mehdi was appointed to the Library board by Mayor Bruce Harrell in July 2022. Mehdi spent 18 years in public policy and public service, most recently as Interim District Director for Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. She brings over 25 years of experience in facilitating staff and non-profit board teams to identify and realize strategic priorities. At Congresswoman Jayapal’s office, she led a staff of six to identify constituent priorities and find ways to address these needs through federal legislation, resources, and attention. In her volunteer work, she led the board of Town Hall to launch a $25-million capital project and fundraising effort, now completed; evaluated options for new funding for parks and recreation while on the Parks Board which led to creation and passage of the Seattle Park District, a sustainable funding source; and, co-chaired the initial phase of a capital campaign for University Prep. At the City of Seattle, she expanded the Library’s programs to serve the growing immigrant and refugee population; re-set Mayor Paul Schell’s relationship with the arts community through identification of a new funding source for the arts; and, successfully led the move of the Central Library to temporary quarters and back to the Koolhaas-designed structure. In 2007, she helped start Crosscut, a source for local journalism. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Social Studies from Harvard University and a Master of Public Policy from the University of Michigan.
Jay Reich was appointed to the Library Board by Mayor Ed Murray in September 2016 and reappointed by Mayor Jenny Durkan in June 2019. He joined Pacifica Law Group in 2011 after serving two years as deputy chief of staff to former U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke in Washington, D.C. He has practiced law for more than 40 years and his areas of focus have included affordable housing, education, nonprofit work, government finance and public/private partnerships. Reich also served as a White House Fellow in Washington, D.C., in the office of the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. He also served in the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office as a deputy prosecuting attorney and assistant chief criminal deputy in charge of the juvenile section. He has been a visiting lecturer at the University of Washington School of Law and has published and spoken extensively on issues in public finance. Reich is a trustee on the Washington State Board for Community & Technical Colleges. He is a past member of the Washington State Achievement Council and the board of trustees of Central Washington University. He has a bachelor's degree from Amherst College and a law degree from Harvard Law School.