Valerie Lynne Shaw
Term Ending: June 30, 2025
Valerie Lynne Shaw, President of the Board of Library Commissioners, was appointed to the Board of five by Mayor Karen Bass in April 2023. With the City Chartered authority of the Los Angeles Public Library, she leads the commission that has the power to control its own funds and make and enforce all rules and regulations. Shaw's career has been marked by her unwavering commitment to public service and a tireless commitment to quality of life improvements through education and infrastructure, all for the betterment of residents throughout Los Angeles and California.
She was appointed in 2015 by Gov. Jerry Brown to the Board of Governors for the California Community College System and served until 2023. The Board provides leadership and policy direction to the system’s 116 community colleges throughout California, serving more than 1.9 million students and representing the largest educational system in the nation.
From 1996 to 2013, Shaw served as the president, vice president, and commissioner of the full-time, five-member Los Angeles Board of Public Works. The Board acts as the general manager of the Department of Public Works with an annual budget of $1.5 billion and more than 5,500 employees. Shaw made history as the first commissioner appointed by three consecutive mayors and as the first African American woman board president of the now 151-year-old Board of Public Works. From 2008-2013, Shaw also led the Mayor and Council sponsored South L.A. Initiatives program, which successfully invested more than $650 million into the community.
Born in Los Angeles to a family with a long history of public service, Shaw has a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Southern California and served as an adjunct professor in the Political Science Dept. from 2003-2012. Shaw is currently a board member of LA County 211, California Community Foundation's $60 million Centinela Medical Fund, the L.A. African American Women's Political Policy Institute, PV Jobs, and a member of the Wilfandel Club.
Term Ending: June 30, 2024
For over 30 years Linda’s legal practice specialized in the areas of commercial law, including business reorganization, debt restructuring, insolvency and litigation. In law practice, she counseled individuals and companies in financial distress by assisting them in developing new business plans and evaluating alternative ways to restructure. As a certified mediator for United States Bankruptcy Courts she was able to use her negotiation skills and her creative problem solving to assist the parties in reaching a successful resolution of their dispute.
Early in her legal career Linda worked for the Los Angeles County Counsel’s Office representing the Department of Children’s Services in all judicial matters pertaining to children under their jurisdiction.
Prior to practicing law, Linda worked for 12 years at Vista Del Mar, a residential treatment center for children, recruiting and supervising foster parents and providing therapy for children in foster care, their parents and their foster parents as well as adoption services. She also developed training program for foster parents and developed a Big Brother/Big Sister program.
Linda has been actively involved in community matters as a member and president of the Westwood Homeowners Association and the Friends of Westwood Library. She was president of the Women Lawyers’ Public Action Grant Foundation, member of the Board of Directors of the Beverly Hills Bar Association.
Term Ending: June 30, 2027
Born and raised in various parts of Los Angeles, Hiram Sims is a poet, essayist and Creative Writing Professor teaching with The Community Literature Initiative. He graduated from University of Southern California and received a B.A. in English: Creative Writing, and a Masters of Professional Writing in Poetry. In addition to teaching essay writing, creative writing, and literature, he has published three collections of poetry, including Poems of a Young, Troubled Mind (2007), Write or Die: An Anthology of Poetry from the Urban Poet's Workshop (2008), and PHOTOETRY: Poetry and Photography from South Central (2013), and his creative writing textbook, These Pages Speak (2015). He is the co-founder of World Stage Press, and founder of The Sims Library of Poetry, boasting the largest collection of poetry in Los Angeles.
Term Ending: June 30, 2028
Kelly Besser was appointed to the Board of Library Commissioners by Mayor Karen Bass in September 2023 for a five-year term.
Besser is the Special Collections Archivist at the UCLA Library. Since 2010, Besser has served the UCLA Library to preserve, arrange and describe countless collections that document our city’s histories such as the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education records, the Golden Mutual Life Insurance records, and the Music Center records. In addition to creating access to collections at the UCLA Library, Besser’s dedication to preserving local histories extends to a wide range of institutions including the African American Firefighter Museum, the Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Tom of Finland Foundation, and the Yosemite National Park Service (NPS) Archives. While working at Yosemite, Besser processed the Park’s Fire Management Office records. Upon completion of this project, these materials were used by Yosemite firefighters to establish fire lines, protect NPS land, and ultimately save lives.
From 2008 to 2023, Besser drove The Miracle, a community-based bookmobile to deliver queer literature, records, ephemera, zines, music and films to Angelenos to memorialize and combat the disappearance of LGBTQIA+ community spaces due to gentrification. By creating alternative, neighborhood-based community meeting locations, The Miracle made space for interaction and solidarity. This work was fueled by a belief that all members of our communities deserve access to information, literature and culture.
Prior to her archival journey, Besser taught high school within the Los Angeles Unified School District for a decade at Out Adolescents Staying In School (OASIS), Fremont High School, and John Marshall High School. Besser served as an advisor for the foundation of Fremont’s first Gay Straight Alliance in 2002.
Besser received a B.A. in Communication Studies with a specialization in Women’s Studies from UCLA and holds a MLIS with an archival studies specialization from UCLA.
Besser is honored to serve on the Board of Library Commissioners to help ensure all Angelenos have access to the services and materials that our libraries offer. Guided by the spirit of longtime Los Angeles Public Library lover Octavia Butler, Besser will work with hope that our libraries will evolve into everything we dream possible.