Speakers & Panelists

Michelle Underhill, State Librarian
Keynote Speaker

A native of Stephens City, Virginia, Underhill began her library career at Wake County Public Libraries, followed by service at the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Office of Environmental Education, and various positions at the State Library of North Carolina. She served as Executive Director of Phoenix Landing Foundation beginning in 2019 before returning to the State Library in 2021.
Her accomplishments with the State Library of North Carolina include leading digitization initiatives, growing NCpedia (an online encyclopedia of North Carolina history, people, and culture), fostering collaborations with partners such as UNC Press and Our State Magazine, and spearheading the effort to extend borrowing privileges to all North Carolina residents. She earned her Master of Library and Information Science at UNC-Greensboro and is the 2011 recipient of the Gale Cengage Award for Excellence in Reference and Adult Services for her work with NCpedia.

Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle
Keynote Panelist

Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle, a citizen of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, resides in Qualla, NC. She holds degrees from Yale University and the College of William and Mary. Her debut novel, Even As We Breathe (UPK 2020), was a finalist for the Weatherford Award, named one of NPR’s Best Books of 2020, and received the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award (2021). It also is the first novel published by a citizen of the Eastern Band of Cherokee. Clapsaddle’s work appears in Yes! Magazine, Lit Hub, Our State Magazine, and The Atlantic. She is a former secondary English and Cherokee Studies educator. Currently, Clapsaddle is an editor for the Appalachian Futures Series (UPK), serves on the Board of Directors for the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, and is the President of the Board of Trustees for the North Carolina Writers Network. Visit www.asaunookeclapsaddle.com to learn more.

Patrice Gopo
Keynote Panelist

Patrice Gopo is an award-winning essayist and the author of books for adults and children. In her work, she often returns to themes of race, immigration, identity formation, and belonging. Her essay collection, All the Colors We Will See, was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. Her debut picture book, All the Places We Call Home, was inspired by one of the essays in her collection. Patrice lives with her family in North Carolina, where she enjoys walks just after dawn and thinks a perfect day ends with ice cream. Please visit www.patricegopo.com to learn more.

Mikaya Thurmond
Keynote Panelist

Mikaya Thurmond is Public Relations Strategist who helps companies and clients achieve their branding goals. She’s spent more than a decade honing the power of messaging. Her award-winning career began as a journalist. She anchored WRAL News for 7 years– waking up more than a million viewers each day. On that morning show, she made history at the time as the youngest anchor in Raleigh! Before being promoted to the anchor desk, she reported in North Carolina and Tennessee where she won two Associated Press awards, received four Emmy nominations, reported for CBS Evening News and NBC’s Today Show. She was also recently named UGA’s 40 Under 40 and Cary Magazine’s Mover and Shaker. As a proud graduate of Harvard University and the University of Georgia, she enjoys cheering on the Georgia Bulldogs. She also loves spending time with her family and her Yorkie, Tinkerbell.

Thank you to our conference sponsors!

UNC School of Information and Library Science and Sebco Books

Learn more about our sponsors:
UNC School of Information and Library Science

*Switch to Virtual as of January 26, 2023: Due to unforeseen circumstances, the conference will not be held in person. We have shifted to a virtual format that promises to provide you with many opportunities for professional enrichment. Thank you for your patience and understanding through this abrupt transition. We look forward to connecting with all of you virtually in March!

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