New Library leaders
Three new staff members are joining the University of Chicago Library and the Library’s Strategic Leadership Board: Rachael Kotarski, Danielle McConnell, and Rhonda Owens.
"All three of our new colleagues were selected from competitive fields of candidates, all bring a proven track record of success in their fields, and all have played key roles in diversity and inclusion initiatives at their respective institutions," said Torsten Reimer, University Librarian and Dean of the University Library.
Rachael Kotarski has accepted the Library’s offer for the position of Associate University Librarian for Digital Strategy and Services. In this role, she will provide vision, leadership, and coordination for the digital services of the University of Chicago Library. Her arrival is anticipated early in the new year.
Kotarski serves as Head of Library Research Services at the University of Bath in England. There, she is responsible for teams and services for open access, research data, repositories, research analytics, and the University archive.
Kotarski started her career working on biomedical data services at Biomed Central, a scientific open access publisher. She subsequently joined the British Library for fifteen years holding progressively more senior positions, culminating in the position of Head of Research Infrastructure Services.
There, she was responsible for the British Library’s repository services and institutional repository; its discovery services; its activities and services around open access, scholarly communications, and persistent identifiers; research data services including the national DataCite consortium; and digital collections and innovation projects with researchers and research organizations internationally.
A member of the Chinese-British community, she played a key role in enabling the British Library’s ambition to be an anti-racist organization by facilitating the data and insight services underpinning the cross-organizational anti-racism program.
Danielle McConnell joined the UChicago Library as Director of Community Engagement on September 18. In this role, she will lead the development of the Library’s community engagement strategy and work across the Library to implement it in partnership with Library teams.
Over the past nine years, McConnell has held a series of progressively responsible positions, culminating in the role of Senior Director of Program, at One Million Degrees (OMD)—a nonprofit with a mission to help launch community college students on career pathways to economic mobility. At OMD, McConnell oversaw and executed the organization’s $3 million signature program budget, partnered with all seven of the City Colleges of Chicago, created a college readiness and career planning curriculum, and oversaw the One Million Degrees Medical Assistant Pathway Program in partnership with Malcolm X College, local hospitals, and other community-based organizations.
McConnell is experienced with advocacy for diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility, including people with LGBTQ+, Black, and Brown identities and neurodivergent learners.
Rhonda Owens joined the Library as Associate Dean of Administration and Operations beginning on July 17. An established leader with a record of driving operational excellence and bringing cultural transformation across organizations, Owens oversees assessment, facilities, finance, and human resources departments and works across the Library to strengthen strategic planning and operations.
Owens comes to the Library from Rush University Medical Center, where she served as Assistant Dean of Strategic Operations, overseeing budget management, strategic planning and operations, regulatory compliance, and academic activities. She delivered streamlined operations and financial management at the Medical Center through a collaborative approach to developing and improving policies and procedures. Before taking on this role, she held a series of progressively senior roles at Rush until she became Director of Operations in 2014.
Owens has extensive experience in strategic planning and administrative operations. In addition to budget management, one of her areas of expertise is HR operations, including talent acquisition, employee relations, and compensation. Owens has a track record in process improvement, coaching, and diversity and inclusion initiatives in support of organizational mission.