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Medium Nonprofit CEO of the Year: Wilmington Public Library Executive Director Jamar Rahming

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Jamar Rahming has loved public libraries for as long as he can remember. Now, he is fulfilling his dream of helping lead a library and his community to success.

Jamar Rahming | PHOTO COURTESY OF WILMINGTON PUBLIC LIBRARY

Rahming is the executive director and CEO of the award-winning Wilmington Public Library, which serves more than 200,000 patrons and avid readers every year with nearly 30 employees.

“I was a latchkey kid during the 80s and 90s in inner city Denver, Colo. The public library was a sanctuary, a place of refuge for me. Books gave me an opportunity to travel anywhere I wanted to travel. I decided that would be the perfect career path for me,” he told the Delaware Business Times.

He graduated from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee in 2008 with a master’s in library science and has since used every opportunity he can find to help enhance the communities in which he works.

“Being a Black man, there’s a dialectical relationship between literacy and liberation. . . We were denied the right to read and when you’re denied something, there must be power behind that. I have not met one well-read person that was not successful in life. Readers are leaders,” he told DBT. 

The library has touted “transformative events” since he took the helm in 2018, seeing thought leaders such as Ana Navarro, Misty Copeland, Omari Hardwick, Dolly Parton and Dennis Rodman, including a reunification of the cast of A Different World.

“When Ana Navarro visited from The View, a lady came in and gave her some handmade jewelry. She then wore it on the show and showed it to Whoopi Goldberg, who shared it on her Instagram. Her sales shot up by 350%. That’s just one of our success stories,” Rahming told DBT.

The reason behind the successes, he contends, is a strong team.

“As a CEO and as a leader, I have a very strong and competent and talented team of people. I’m energized when I see my team, these people, being the best version of themselves,” Rahming told DBT.

“The call and the need is grace. Grace makes sure that everybody has what they need to be the best selves possible,” he continued. “When you’re a good leader, you have a very acute understanding of your deficiencies and what you don’t know. You find capable people to do all of the great things you can’t do. Your power rests in making other people powerful.”

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