The Oliver Wolcott Library Exceptional Leadership Award is given very selectively to extraordinary individuals who have shown exceptional leadership on behalf of the library. This special award recognizes one outstanding individual for their long dedication to the library, their valuable and selfless commitment to inspire and guide other library volunteers and staff, their contribution of innovative ideas and approaches to help the library reach its goals, and their contribution to the overall success of the library through their example of dedication, inclusivity, compassion, and hard work. We salute these volunteers for their commitment, passion and service to our library and community.
Awarded September 2018
Emily is currently serving her third term as an OWL Trustee, and also President of the OWL Board. In her past terms, she held the position of Vice President (2015-2016), and Board President (2016-2018). She has a long history of Festival of Trees leadership, serving as chair of multiple committees from 2006-2010 and ultimately, as Chair of Festival from 2011- 2013, 2015- 2016, and currently as Co-chair for Festival 2022. Additionally, she served as chair of OWL’s Annual Fund Drive 2014-2015, and Chair of the Week of Wonder Auction in both 2020 and 2021.
Emily became involved with OWL as a Festival of Trees volunteer shortly after she moved to Litchfield in 2004 with her husband, Matthew Karpas. Her leadership and her creative spirit guided the tremendous growth of Festival, witnessing noteworthy expansion of the Festival of Trees Sponsorships, creation of the Raffle, the implementation of the significant changes in the set-up and space planning, significant growth in party and dinner experiences, and the creation of a full-color Program. Her new ideas increased the vibrancy, attendance, and fundraising success of the event.
As President in past years, she led the library through challenging times including the installation of fiber technology, the temporary move of OWL to Bantam, the loss of our beloved colleague Heather Day, and more. “Her reasoned approach to problems guided the library, and my management of it. I have always known that Emily will give me insight into any issue or challenge that I bring to her. Her passion for staff, volunteers, and community radiates through each decision and grounded our approach to several challenging situations” said Ann Marie White, Library Director.
Emily’s innovation and her ability to inspire are additional aspects that reflect her commitment to excellence. “Emily is constantly innovating. She challenges all around her to be the best that they can be, inspiring us through her own example and her very being to look at things in a new way, to innovate, transform and improve” said Ann Marie White.
“Emily has worked tirelessly on behalf of the library, acting as a model for being ‘an Ambassador’ for the library’s critical place in our community and in a democracy.” said Maura Malo, OWL President (2018- 2020) of the Oliver Wolcott Library Board of Trustees.
The board and staff express sincere appreciation to Emily for her warm, passionate leadership and for her strategic vision. Her presence and service have been an immeasurable gift to OWL and our entire community.
Awarded July 2019
Bob is a widely recognized and beloved community leader whose commitment, wisdom and involvement are truly exceptional. In his business life, Bob served as the co-owner and Executive Officer for Stowe Machine Company in Windsor and Executive VP and Director of the Torin Corporation in Torrington for 24 years. His many years of private sector management experience, combined with his passion for the community, have provided an immeasurable positive impact on OWL.
Bob served on the Board of Trustees at OWL for two terms (2003-2009) including as President of the board from 2004 – 2009. Even after leaving the board, Bob has remained a constant presence at OWL, serving on a variety of committees, including many years on the Committee on Trustees and the Finance Committee. He is a regular sounding board for key decisions and issues that impact the library due to his steady and reliable guidance, intelligence, and masterful diplomacy.
“Bob has this incredible ability to make everyone feel as if they are part of something greater” said Ann Marie White, Library Director. “Bob lifts your gaze to make you see the amazing possibilities.”
“As a leader, Bob is sharp, detailed, keenly aware, and best of all, he willingly and graciously shares his knowledge, acting as a mentor and a guide to anyone who needs him. He doesn't dictate and demand. He guides, convinces, helps you to see and think so that you grow every time he helps you” said Ann Marie White.
Among his many contributions to OWL, Bob has played a key role over the years in building and nurturing the strong relationship between OWL and the Town of Litchfield. Bob helped initiate on-going conversations with the Boards of Selectman and Finance about how effectively and efficiently the library is run. These conversations laid the critical foundation for the support, understanding, and partnership that OWL enjoys with our elected officials today.
“Our family has lived in Litchfield for 18 years, and in those years, I have met no one who cares more deeply about our community. Through the years, Bob has given so much of his own time and leadership in so many diverse ways to so many causes. Many that presented challenges others wouldn’t dare to take on” said Matt Karpas, OWL President (2011- 2013). “If you want a thoughtful, balanced, intelligent, straight-forward and knowledgeable answer to any question about our community and beyond, Bob is the person to go to.”
The board and staff extend their sincere and heartfelt thanks to Bob for his tireless community leadership and inspiring dedication to the library.
Awarded September 2020
Susan has served on the OWL Board of Trustees for three separate terms. During her first stint on the Board in the early 1980s, she served as Vice President and then as President. She also co-chaired the library’s building committee and capital fund drive, culminating in the construction of the new wing and community room. In the 1990s, Susan served as the Board’s secretary and fundraising chair. From 2016 through September 2022, Susan served as the Vice President and chair of the Annual Fund Drive.
Susan’s association with the library began in 1970, when she volunteered at the circulation desk and was a member of the children’s book selection committee. Service to the library comes naturally to Susan because of the central role that reading has played in her life and in the lives of her family. “Raising our young children during long winter months would have been much more difficult had it not been for the wonderful children’s librarian and OWL children’s programs,” she said.
Susan’s tireless dedication, great energy, and commitment to kindness have helped make OWL the thriving library that it is today. She approaches each project or task with commitment and compassion, always prioritizing the library’s goal of inspiring minds and building a strong community.
"Susan lights the way for all of us. She is always-- even in the most trying times- always kind, compassionate, full of grace, and willing to help. She leads by reminding us to think of others. With a wonderful sense of humor, unwavering kindness, and a fierce dedication, she has helped to make the library what it is today." said Ann Marie White, library director. "In a community filled with incredibly warm and generous people, Susan rises to the top of being one of the warmest and most generous. One of the library's core values is to be a welcoming, friendly place. In every interaction and in every project, Susan makes sure that everyone feels welcomed when they use the library or volunteer for the library. She is a true Ambassador for the library".
" Never seeking the limelight and always putting others forward, Susan has given 50 years of dedicated service to all of us. She has quietly focused her remarkable intellect, commitment and kindness to literally 'building' OWL into the treasure we all enjoy today", said Colette Boyd, OWL president. "From baking brownies for the earlier version of the Festival of Trees, to directing the capital campaign that brought the modern wing of this library to completion, Susan has nurtured the growth of this library every step of the way - knowing that in the same way she nurtured our entire community."
The library board and staff extend our sincerest and most heartfelt thanks to Susan for her many years of dedicated service to OWL.
Award Nomination and Process :
Board Trustees, staff, and library volunteers may make nominations. Nominees must be living at the time of the
nomination submission and be at least 18 years of age. Only one nomination may be made by the same person
each year. Anyone who wishes to nominate a library volunteer for the Oliver Wolcott Library Exceptional
Leadership Award should submit a description of the nominee’s contributions that demonstrate the qualities
listed above. The total application should not be longer than two pages including any photographs, letters of
support or any other supplemental information. Nominations must be submitted by email to the Library Director
by March 1.
The Award Committee will meet before June 30 of each year. At the meeting, the Award Committee will carefully
review all of the nominations and will select a nominee for final approval by the Board. The Award Committee
will use the data provided in the application guided by the criteria of what makes an OWL Exceptional Leader.
The Award Committee will decide whether or not to give the award in any given year. The award will be given no
more than once per year.