2017 Conference Keynotes

President's Program

All are invited to kick-off the full conference program by joining us at a special event on Monday, April 24 at 6:00 p.m. hosted by NJLA President Chris Carbone Melinda Emerson. Melinda F. Emerson, known as SmallBizLady, is America’s #1 Small Business Expert. She has been a thriving entrepreneur for nearly 15 years and is an internationally-known keynote speaker. Melinda’s small business advice is widely read, reaching more than 3 million entrepreneurs each week on the internet. A pioneer in social media marketing, she is the creator and host of #Smallbizchat, the longest running live chat on Twitter for small business owners. In addition to being a regular columnist for the New York Times, she is frequently quoted by other media organizations including The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, MSNBC and Fox News. Forbes magazine named her the #1 woman for entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter. She is an expert on what it takes to start a successful small business, marketing pitfalls to avoid, and how to become a brand in demand using social media. She is the publisher of her resource blog www.succeedasyourownboss.com, which is syndicated by the Huffington Post, and is the bestselling author of Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months and the ebook How To Become a Social Media Ninja. She is also a regular contributor to Essence magazine and the lead instructor for the Black Enterprise Small Business University. (Refreshments will be served during the President's Program!)

Tuesday Keynote

Janet Mock is a writer, TV host and advocate whose memoir, Redefining Realness, debuted on the New York Times bestsellers list in 2014. She is a sought-after speaker, an advocate for trans women’s rights, and the founder of #GirlsLikeUs, a social media project that empowers trans women. A millennial media powerhouse, Janet began her career as a Staff Editor for People.com and has since worked as a correspondent for Entertainment Tonight and host of MSNBC's "So POPular!" a weekly series about popular culture, politics, identity and representation. She also serves as Contributing Editor for Marie Claire, the magazine where she first stepped forward publicly as a young trans woman. Her writing, work and media advocacy has been recognized by the Ms. Foundation, Planned Parenthood, ADCOLOR, TIME, which dubbed her “one of the 30 most influential people on the internet," and Fast Company, which named her "one of the most creative people in business." Hailing from Honolulu, Hawaii, Janet attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa and earned her MA in journalism from New York University. She lives and writes in New York City.

Wednesday Keynote

An educator and attorney for 30 years, Valerie J. Gross holds a Master of Music from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, a Master of Library Science from San Jose State University, and a law degree from Golden Gate University School of Law. She is a member of the ALA, PLA, MLA, and the California Bar Association. Developing a new vision for libraries, Gross worked with the Howard County Library System Board and staff members, local government, and the community to implement the “Libraries = Education" approach. She led the transformation of HCLS to its current prominence as a renowned educational institution, alongside the region’s schools, colleges, and universities. Gross has delivered 80+ keynotes, workshops, seminars, and webinars on "Libraries = Education," drawing the participation and input of thousands of library professionals from 46 states and more than a dozen countries around the world. Combining these experiences, she authored Transforming Our Image, Building Our Brand: The Education Advantage (ABC-CLIO, 2013). For living this game-changing vision, HCLS received Library Journal's prestigious Library of the Year award from among North America's 21,000 public and academic libraries. The publication hailed the “Libraries = Education” equation “a 21st-century model worthy of study and consideration by every library in America, if not the world.” (Library Journal, June 2013) In addition to leading HCLS to Library of the Year, Gross was honored by the Daily Record as a 2015 Innovator or the Year, and by the Baltimore Sun as one of “50 Women to Watch: The most intriguing, powerful, and memorable personalities making an impact on the Baltimore region.” She received the Public Libraries Best Feature Article Award in 2012 and 2010, and was honored as a Library Journal Mover and Shaker in 2004.