Announcing Upcoming Retirement of Friends President Peter Pearson

Pearson is retiring at the end of 2016, leaving a strong and growing organization. A national search is underway for a new president. 

SAINT PAUL, MN, June 28, 2016 — After twenty-five years of service and growing the organization more than tenfold, Peter Pearson has announced his retirement as president of The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, effective December 31, 2016. The Friends is one of the oldest and strongest library support organizations in the country, with a mission of stronger libraries for stronger communities.

Under Pearson’s leadership, the organization has grown from a staff of two, with an annual budget of $200,000 and a seven-member Board of Trustees, to the organization it is today—sophisticated and entrepreneurial, with a staff of 19, an annual budget of over $3 million, and a dynamic Board of 50 active and well-connected business, education and civic leaders.

During his tenure, The Friends conducted three successful capital campaigns, took on leadership of the Minnesota Book Awards, created the country’s premier book and author event, and developed a nationally-recognized library consulting company, Library Strategies.

Peter Pearson“The timing is right,” said Pearson. “Our most recent capital campaign has been successfully completed,” he said, noting that new leadership has been added in the last year to strengthen the organization’s fundraising capabilities and financial and administrative oversight into the future.

As an influential voice for libraries, The Friends ensures the Saint Paul Public Library and its partner and client libraries are vital centers of engaged, educated and diverse communities. Beyond retirement, Pearson plans to continue working with Library Strategies, in whatever consulting capacity he may be needed, but he also plans to spend more time with his family at his home in Florida.

“I have enjoyed every one of my 25 years at The Friends. I feel blessed to have had a career that is personally fulfilling and also of service to this great city and library that we all love.” The City of Saint Paul has come to depend on the organization’s tenacious and steadfast support of the library.

“The Friends of the Library is irreplaceable and a key partner in everything we do with our libraries,” said St. Paul City Council member and Library Board chair Chris Tolbert. “They are highly respected and their opinion really matters. There’s no other group that backs up their advocacy like they do, with their own dollars.”

Former Saint Paul Mayor George Latimer concurred, but notes that strong support of the library doesn’t happen in a vacuum. “The Friends have got it made,” said Latimer, with a laugh,” because there are so many people in St. Paul who love libraries.”

The Friends recently completed a four-year, $7.4 million capital campaign to support major renovations at the Sun Ray, Highland Park, and George Latimer Central Libraries.The City of Saint Paul contributed $7 million to the projects, for a total of $14.4 million. “Peter’s leadership within The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library will be deeply missed,” said Mayor Chris Coleman. “The support and partnership he fostered has allowed our libraries to become places of 21st century learning.”

The Friends will be conducting a national search to identify the next president. The Board of Trustees has contracted with Ballinger|Leafblad to facilitate the process. Details of the search process will be posted online at www.thefriends.org. Inquiries about the position can be sent to lars@ballingerleafblad.com.

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