How public libraries connect communities to care through social work, public health, partnerships, and collaboration.

You're invited to the Boston Public Library Fund’s annual breakfast and conversation event!

Thursday, May 16 from 7:30 – 9:00 a.m.
Newsfeed Cafe, Central Library in Copley Square

Scroll down to register for this free event. 

You are invited to join Liberty Mutual Foundation and the Boston Public Library Fund for a dynamic panel discussion exploring the evolving landscape of social work within the public library sphere.

As guardians of community well-being, public libraries have become pivotal hubs for social work initiatives, acting as conduits for connection, care, and collaboration. We cordially invite you to delve into this crucial conversation with us, as we uncover how public libraries are shaping the future of community support.


Gary Bailey; MSW Program Director and Professor of Practice at Simmons University’s School of Social Work

Dr. Gary Bailey is the MSW Program Director and Professor of Practice at Simmons University’s School of Social Work. He is also a Professor of Practice in the Simmons of Nursing and Health Sciences. Professor Bailey has devoted his career to sharing his deep knowledge, expertise, and leadership in the fields of Social Work, Public Health, Youth Education, and Affordable Housing.  

He is the former President of the NASW-Assurance Services, Inc- the NASW Professional Liability Company; he is a past president of the International Federation of Social Workers based in Bern, Switzerland—the first person of color to hold this post. He is a past president of both the Massachusetts Chapter of NASW, and of NASW National-Washington D.C. He was the Chairperson of the National Social Work Public Education Campaign. He was a member of the Council on Social Work Educations Commission on Global Social Work Education and its Committee on Human Rights. He held advisory and board roles with the North American and Caribbean Association of Schools of Social Work’s Council on Social Work Education.  

In May 2009 Professor Bailey was selected as a Fulbright Specialist for the United States-Israel Educational Foundation (USIEF).  

At Boston University School of Public Health Maternal and Child Health Center for Excellence, Professor Bailey serves as a mentor in the Diversity Scholars Leadership Program. His advocacy for youth education includes serving as President of the Board for the Fenway High School, and as a member of the board of the South End Library. He is also vice-chair of the board at the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA). In 2017 he was appointed by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker as a member of the Massachusetts LGBT-Q Youth Commission. He was a member of the AIDS Action Committees (AAC), Inc. Advisory Council; and the AIDS Action Committees Program Committee.   

He is a member of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Equity Council. His commitment to advancing the availability of affordable housing included leadership roles FOR Our CommUnitieS, Inc. (FOCUS, Inc.) and he is on the board of United South End Settlements (USES).  

He was a member of the Leadership Council, Success by 6 campaign – United Way of Massachusetts Bay; and was the co –chair, Boston Children’s Hospital Community Advisory Board.  He is a past member of the Commissioner’s Professional Advisory Committee at the Massachusetts Department of Social Services (DSS, now DCF); and he was a member of the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health Professional Advisory Committee for Child and Adolescent  Services.  

Professor Bailey is a longstanding member of Boston’s historic Union United Methodist Church, where he is the chair of the Church Council and a member of its Leadership Team. 

Taylor Morris; Boston Public Library Social Worker

Taylor joined the Boston Public Library as their first full-time social worker in May 2022. She is responsible for developing and implementing the social worker program across the library system through a blend of patron and staff support. With patrons, she seeks to build relationships and connect people to social service resources that support their needs. She works closely with library staff to provide guidance on trauma-informed approaches and making the library a safe and welcoming place for all. She currently supervises 3 graduate student interns from the Social Work Department at Simmons University and Boston College. Across her work, she prioritizes a strengths-based approach and focuses on “meeting people where they are”. 

Bisola Ojikutu; Commissioner of Public Health, City of Boston, Executive Director, Boston Public Health Commission, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School

Bisola Ojikutu MD MPH is a nationally recognized physician leader, health equity researcher, community advocate and expert in the prevention, care, and treatment of infectious diseases. Dr. Ojikutu was appointed Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) in July 2021. 

As Executive Director of the BPHC, the City’s health department and Commissioner of Public Health for the City of Boston, Dr. Ojikutu manages a budget of $180M and leads more than 1,300 employees working in 6 bureaus and more than 40 programs. Dr. Ojikutu is a key advisor to Boston’s Mayor on health issues and builds innovative partnerships across city departments and within Boston’s communities to positively impact the health of all city residents. Among other public health priorities, she is committed to addressing racism as a public health crisis and advancing health equity. 

Dr. Ojikutu is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and a faculty member within the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She also holds an appointment within the Infectious Disease Division at Massachusetts General Hospital and is an adjunct faculty member at The Fenway Institute. She has led research and developed programs focused on increasing access to health care among marginalized populations funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HIV/AIDS Bureau). Most recently, Dr. Ojikutu served as Director of the Community Engaged Research Program and the Associate Director of the Bio-Behavioral and Community Science Core for the Harvard Center for AIDS Research. She is widely published in peer-reviewed journals and is an Associate Editor for the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH). She is also a co-editor of two comprehensive textbooks detailing strategies to address the ongoing HIV epidemic with Black and Latinx communities, HIV in US Communities of Color. Among other awards, she was named one of the 100 Most Influential Bostonians by Boston Magazine in 2022. 

Dr. Ojikutu also has significant international experience. As a Senior Advisor at John Snow Inc, Dr. Ojikutu directed a $30 million project that provided program management, strategic planning and technical assistance to improve HIV care and treatment to 15 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. She is also the former Director of the Office of International Programs at Harvard Medical School. 

Dr. Ojikutu graduated from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. She completed internal medicine residency at New York Presbyterian Hospital-Cornell and Infectious Disease Fellowship at Massachusetts General/Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She is a former Commonwealth Fund Fellow in Minority Health Policy and has a Master’s in Public Health in Health Policy and Management from the Harvard School of Public Health. She is board certified in internal medicine and infectious diseases and is a Fellow of the Infectious Disease Society of America. 



Melissa M. MacDonnell; President, Liberty Mutual Foundation                                                                                            Liberty Mutual Insurance

Melissa M. MacDonnell is President of Liberty Mutual Foundation at Liberty Mutual Insurance. Since she founded the foundation in 2003, it has committed more than $390 million dollars to 1,300+ organizations, with a focus on advancing security and building resiliency for vulnerable people and communities. As President of Liberty Mutual Foundation, Melissa also oversees Liberty’s Community Investments, including its philanthropic thought leadership, robust employee engagement and Integrated Programs, which leverages Liberty’s core capabilities, expertise and assets to drive greater impact in the community. She serves on the Board of Directors for The Dimock Center and the Rodman Family Foundation. The recipient of numerous awards for her philanthropic work, Melissa believes deeply in the potential of the private sector, in concert with the community at large, to ignite social good.

Melissa earned her BS in Finance with a concentration in Spanish from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, an MBA from the Carroll School of Management at Boston College and an MPA from Harvard Kennedy School.

David LeonardPresident, Boston Public Library

David Leonard is President of the Boston Public Library, a thriving 170-year-old institution and one of Boston’s great educational, cultural, and civic treasures. David began working at the BPL in 2009, bringing with him a wealth of experience from the technology, management, and consulting fields. Appointed President by the Library’s Board of Trustees and Mayor Martin J. Walsh in June 2016, David’s focus is on developing the BPL as a twenty-first-century institution that provides dynamic library experiences to the residents of Boston, of Massachusetts, and beyond.

BPL has a Central Library in Copley Square, twenty-five neighborhood branches, and an archival center and also serves as the “Library for the Commonwealth” of Massachusetts. In his role, David oversees a collection of more than 23 million books, maps, manuscripts, and prints, with ever expanding digital access.  

Prior to his appointment as President, David served as Interim President for one year. During that time he focused on the completion of the $78 million renovation of the Central Library in Copley Square, which opened in July 2016, as well as a significant number of branch and collections management projects; enhancing access and customer experience; and increasing collaboration with other City of Boston departments and local cultural institutions.

During his time at the BPL David has also served as Director of Administration & Technology, Chief Technology Officer, acting Director of Administration & Finance, and acting Chief Financial Officer. He led the Library’s capital improvement project for the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center, worked to modernize the Library’s technology infrastructure—including the migration to the new Integrated Library System and deployment of new pay-for-print systems system wide—and oversaw master planning and design for the renovation of the Central Library in Copley Square.

David’s prior experience spans academia and the nonprofit sector as well as the IT consulting world, with roles in business development, management, and technology consulting. David is currently enrolled in a PhD program in Library Information Science at Simmons College. He holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and mathematics and a master’s degree in philosophy from the University College Dublin. He did further graduate work in philosophy at Boston College and was a member of the 2010 Emerging Leaders Program at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

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