The Riverside-Brookfield Landmark sent questionnaires to each person running for public office in 2023. The Landmark’s questions are in bold and the candidate’s responses are below.
Name: Nancy DeFauw
Previous Political Experience: None
Previous/Current Community Involvement: Former alumni trustee, Knox College; former school advisory board member and chair, St. Mary School; current participant in Service Outreach for St. Paul VI parish supporting BEDS’ and Catholic Charities’ care for the homeless.
Occupation: Self-employed, working with fintech startups and philanthropic organizations
Education: Dual bachelor’s degrees in history and economics, Knox College
1. Why are you running for the Riverside Public Library board?
As a Riverside resident for the last 18 years, I’ve witnessed our Library evolve to fill a crucial gap in our small community – a place where all community residents can gather to meet, exchange ideas, find new ideas, and continue their life-long learning.
As a professional who has worked with for-profit, philanthropic and non-profit organizations to continually evolve their products, I have a great deal of respect for the work that’s been done and welcome the opportunity to advise on and directly support those continued efforts by serving on the Board.
2. What experience and perspectives would you bring to the position and how would they be valuable as an elected official?
Starting from my earliest memories as a child in DeKalb, the community library has been a place of wonder, of breadth, and scale that inspired awe in my young imagination. I believe that this is one of the most important roles libraries have – to welcome in young imaginations and fuel them – not just with materials but by also being physically present in these marvelous spaces.
I still believe libraries inspire us and are a critical resource for valuing, preserving, and making knowledge accessible. Libraries, and the communities they serve, thrive when we find new ways to engage thinkers, connect individuals to new ways of thinking, and most importantly, help patrons develop a deeper understanding.
I have a broad professional background that includes a strong understanding of budgeting and fundraising, strategic thinking, the work it takes to weave strategic principles into everyday operations, and teamwork.
My work with nonprofits and foundations both professionally and as a prior board member also gives me a unique perspective on how to adapt these principles to the particular governance structures and operational features of the RPL.
I value the mission of the RPL and will work hard to strengthen that mission.
3. What do you believe are some of the greatest challenges facing the library?
I think all libraries, including ours, find themselves in difficult waters right now with regard to limiting access to material – censorship if you want to be plain about it. It will continue to be the Board’s job to support and bolster the Library director and staff, to hold fast to our mission through outspoken support, and engage our community in a reasoned exchange of ideas based on mutual respect.
In Riverside, in our uniquely small community, the Library serves such a crucial function as a forum – a public meeting place – for residents and patrons to gather and exchange ideas. The programming in recent years from the RPL has been outstanding in its depth and breadth and embraces this role as convener. I look forward to supporting that work.
Lastly, we have a historic building that will continue to need our care. The preservation and care of our gorgeous building is also front and center for the Board.