Letter from the President: Welcoming IFLA’s new Secretary General, Sharon Memis
16 May 2023
As President of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, I am honoured and proud to announce the IFLA Governing Board’s unanimous decision to appoint Sharon Memis as the new IFLA Secretary General.
After a turbulent and challenging time, in which the duties of the Secretary General were overshadowed by internal politics, IFLA set out to look for an expert in cultural diplomacy, business development, management and external relations. In Sharon Memis, we are convinced we have found the perfect combination.
Sharon has over thirty years of strategic and operational experience in public, private and not-for-profit sectors in the US, Europe, and Asia. She joins IFLA from the Association of Commonwealth Universities, where she was Chief Operating Officer, contributing to the internationalisation of education and culture. Prior to that, she held a variety of senior posts with the British Council, the UK’s international agency for cultural relations, including in India, the United States, Brussels, and London.
When I hand over the reigns as IFLA President this summer, I will do so in the knowledge that I am leaving the organisation in capable hands. Along with my successor Vicki McDonald, I know that with Sharon as Secretary General, IFLA will further be able to focus on what the organisation does best: strengthen the global voice of the library and information profession and work tirelessly to create literate, informed and participatory societies.
Sharon has a track record in leading high-performing teams, evidence-based strategic transformation, high-level advocacy, and income growth in large, complex organisations and charities. Originally from England, Sharon speaks multiple languages including French and Spanish. During her British Council career, Sharon witnessed the transformational power of libraries, which can change lives and communities. She has also worked as a consultant in international cultural relations and is intimately familiar with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
In line with IFLA’s Strategy 2019-2024, we are implementing the governance structures endorsed by our members in February 2021, but much remains to be done. Since IFLA was founded 96 years ago, our organisation has grown to over 1,600 members and affiliates from over 140 countries. One of the challenges the new President and Secretary General will take on is pushing the existing Strategy forward and planning IFLA’s Strategy for the next five years.
Sharon will begin her role as Secretary General on 1 June 2023 working with the IFLA HQ team and with the Governing Board. I look forward to introducing her to you in person at our Congress in Rotterdam in August.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Helen Mandl for taking on the role and duties of IFLA Acting Secretary General for the past 9 months. She worked with the IFLA Headquarters team and the Governing Board during challenging times to ensure that IFLA continued to carry out its important work for the global library field.