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Helling out as IndyPL interim CEO, search continues for permanent CEO

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This story has been updated to include information from IndyPL board of trustees member Dr. Patricia Payne.

John Helling, interim CEO of Indianapolis Public Library (IndyPL), is leaving the library system to become the deputy director at Hamilton East Public Library. His last day at IndyPL is April 1.

Helling became interim CEO in September 2021 after Jackie Nytes resigned after allegations of racism. The board of trustees for the library has not yet hired a full-time CEO and will now be looking for another interim to replace Helling.

Helling declined an interview, but offered the following statement:

“I appreciate, above all else, the wonderful people at IndyPL with whom I have worked over the past six years. I am proud of what we have been able to do together to serve Marion County, and I am confident that our staff and leadership can continue to guide the organization in the right direction so that the next, permanent CEO is ready and able to thrive alongside them. At this time, this is simply the right move for me and my family, both personally and professionally.”

In an internal email to IndyPL staff obtained by the Recorder, Helling said the board is working to find a new interim and that a permanent CEO is expected to be named later this year.

Board member Dr. Patricia Payne said the board will begin working to find an interim CEO — who could be either an internal or external hire — next week. When it comes to a permanent CEO, however, she isn’t sure when someone will be hired.

“I don’t have an estimate, I just know that we plan to be very thorough in this search,” Payne said. “The process is really just beginning because we’re also waiting on the results of the climate study, because that’s supposed to help inform the CEO search and help us figure out what we’re looking for.”

Payne said the results of the climate survey, which is being conducted by the law firm Ice Miller, should be ready sometime this month.

When Helling became interim CEO, he said his main goal was to rebuild trust within the organization. That effort included the internal climate study — which was delayed by infighting within the board and was distributed to employees in December— and hiring a new diversity, equity and inclusion officer, Keesha Hughes, in November.

Bradbury Miller Associates is currently conducting the search for the library’s new CEO.

This story is ongoing and will be updated when more information becomes available.

Contact staff writer Breanna Cooper at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @BreannaNCooper.

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