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Indianapolis Public Library names Gabriel Morley new CEO

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Indianapolis Public Library announced Gabriel Morley as its next CEO during a board meeting Dec. 8. The other finalist for the position was current interim CEO Nichelle M. Hayes.

The library’s previous CEO, Jackie Nytes, resigned in August 2021 amid allegations of racism.

Many at the packed meeting were hoping the board would choose Hayes, who has worked at the library since 2015 and is founding director of the Center for Black Literature and Culture. Some shouted “shame” at board members and told board president Jose Salinas he would be held accountable.

The meeting lasted less than 10 minutes.

Indianapolis Public Library board members meet Dec. 8, 2022, to announce their decision to offer the library’s CEO job to Gabriel Morley. (Photo/Chloe McGowan)

Morley has served as the leader of libraries in cities including Atlanta and New Orleans. He earned his master’s in library science and a doctorate in adult education from the University of Southern Mississippi.

Gabriel Morley

“I’m honored to be selected as the new CEO of the Indianapolis Public Library and am grateful for the opportunity to serve this vibrant community,” Morley said in a statement after the vote. “I look forward to getting to know the dedicated staff as we work together to continue making IndyPL one of the most dynamic and welcoming libraries in the country.”

Morley will start his role within the next week.

Board members Dr. Khaula Murtadha and Dr. Patricia Payne were the most vocal memebrs during the meeting about their disappointment.

Murtadha said the board received written and verbal comment from the community and that the decision to offer Morley the CEO job instead of Hayes “is against what the community has told us.”

“We have an opportunity to finally choose someone who has come up through the ranks of this library,” she said of Hayes, “who knows this city and knows the challenges of this city, someone who has worked hard and diligently and is an experienced leader, not only here but nationally as well. To ignore that is a travesty.”

Payne said it was a shame to be part of the board.

“But I don’t intend to step down,” she said. “I intend to serve out my term and just look at what’s gonna happen when you bring in this unqualified person.”

Board member Hope Tribble, who voted to approve the resolution that extended the offer to Morley, said after the meeting the process to find a CEO “included the community from the very beginning.”

“Our responsibility is to choose the best candidate,” Tribble said in response to a question about why the board would pass over a Black woman for a position that’s open because of accusations of racism.

Here is the vote tally from the meeting:

Salinas: Yes

Curtis Bigsbee: Abstained

Raymond Biederman: Yes

Murtadha: No

Payne: No

Dr. TD Robinson: Yes

Tribble: Yes

In a phone interview after the meeting, Hayes said after dedicating the last seven years of her professional career to IndyPL and the last nine months to the staff and citizens of Indianapolis, she hopes this next chapter under new leadership will be a good one.

Nichelle M. Hayes

Hayes said the Center for Black Literature and Culture, which she spearheaded, is flourishing under the leadership of Amirah Malcom and Bryanna Barnes and she’s excited about what the CBLC’s future holds.

Hayes didn’t explicitly state what her next steps will be following the end of her position as interim CEO.

“I feel good, I am a woman of faith,” Hayes said. “I believe that God is going to order my steps and whatever my next step will be will be a good one.”

Since April, IndyPL’s Board of Trustees’ Diversity, Policy & HR Committee has worked with a CEO search committee to bring in candidates for consideration. Hayes and Morley gave public presentations Nov. 30 to detail their visions for the future of the library.

Following the presentations, the board conducted closed interviews with each the candidates before voting.

Contact staff write Chloe McGowan at 317-762-7848 or chloegm@indyrecorder.com. Follow her on Twitter @chloe_mcgowanxx.

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