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 2016 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.
Board members Khaula Murtadha and Patricia Payne were the most vocal 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.
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.
This story will be updated.