[nfbmi-talk] appointment of Karen A. Keninger as the new NLS Director

Mary Ann Robinson brightsmile1953 at comcast.net
Mon Feb 13 17:46:20 CST 2012

Below is an announcement of the appointment of Karen A. Keninger as the NLS Director
that I got from another list.
Mary Ann Robinson

New director of NLS
Karen Keninger Appointed Director of the National Library Service for the Blind and
Physically Handicapped
Librarian of Congress James H. Billington today announced the appointment of Karen
A. Keninger as director of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically
Handicapped (NLS), effective March 26, 2012.  Keninger succeeds Frank Kurt Cylke,
who retired from federal service on February 28, 2011.
"Ms. Keninger's qualifications and experience are superb for this position," said
Billington in announcing the appointment. "She has demonstrated leadership and strategic
thinking throughout her career." Since 2008, Keninger has been the director of the
Iowa Department for the Blind, a leading provider in the United States of vocationalnn
rehabilitation and independent-living programs and library services for blind and
visually impaired individuals. Keninger was selected from an impressive pool of candidates
following an extensive search process that began last year.
"Keninger is no stranger to the NLS program," Billington noted. "She is a highly
respected administrator and a leader in the NLS library network." As director of
the Iowa Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped for eight years, from 2000-2008,
Keninger managed the statewide library program, the machine-lending agency, instructional
materials center, braille production, and audio production units. Keninger's initiatives
included the planning and implementation of a new, in-house digital recording program
with a state-of-the-art recording studio and a corps of volunteers to expand and
transform the state's audio-production program.
"Keninger has a proven track record of collaboration and innovation," said Billington.
She served on the Digital Long-Term Planning Group established by NLS in 2001 to
guide planning for the now successfully completed digital talking book transition,
and on the successor Digital Transition Advisory Committee. She led the transition
in Iowa from analog to digital talking books and players and was successful in securing
funds for the digital conversion of locally-produced talking books. She is a daily
user of the full range of information technologies for the blind and visually impaired,
including Web-Braille, digital talking book machines and books, and online download
Throughout her career, Keninger has established and maintained effective working
relationships with a broad range of individuals and organizations at the national,
state, and local levels. Keninger was elected 2012 president of the National Council
of State Agencies for the Blind. From 2002-2008, she served as chair of the Consortium
of User Libraries.
Keninger holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Drake University in Iowa and
a master's degree in English, business and technical writing from Iowa State University.
She completed graduate courses in library and information science at the University
of Iowa.
Karen Keninger was born and raised in Vinton, Iowa, the third of seven children in
a happy and lively farming family. When she was 16 months old her parents
discovered that she could not see very well, and she was later diagnosed with retinitis
pigmentosa. Although she had some vision as a child, she was completely
blind by the age of 20. She attended school at the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving
School in Vinton, graduating in 1970. In 1973 she graduated from Drake
University with a B.A. in Journalism.
In 1987, after many years as a full-time homemaker and mother, she established a
freelance writing service in Newton, Iowa. As part of this effort, Keninger
went back to school and graduated in 1991 with a masters degree in English with an
emphasis in business and technical writing from Iowa State University.
She continued her freelance work until 1995 when she accepted the position of Rehabilitation
Consultant with the Iowa Department for the Blind.
In 2000 she was promoted to Program Administrator for the Iowa Library for the Blind
and Physically Handicapped. After eight years in that position, she
was appointed by the Iowa Commission for the Blind to the position of Director of
the Iowa Department for the Blind.
As director, Keninger oversees 90 staff members working in six major program areas.
She is responsible for developing and upholding the Department's mission
of creating opportunities for independence for all blind and visually impaired Iowans.
During her 14 years of work with the Department for the Blind, Keninger has been
involved in initiating many new programs for various sectors of the Department
and for the Department as a whole. These initiatives included:
list of 4 items
. The introduction of digital talking books to the Iowa Library for the Blind & Physically
. Implementation of an in-house, state-of-the-art digital recording program and a
new set of volunteers to expand and transform the audio production program
at the library
. Establishment of the Friends for the Library group, which has raised tens of thousands
of dollars for the library
. Initiation and implementation of an internationally recognized computer training
project, which was funded through a $1 million grant
list end
Keninger also serves on several professional boards, including the National Council
of State Agencies for the Blind and the Council of State Administrators
of Vocational Rehabilitation.
While Keninger has achieved much throughout the span of her career, she has done
it while balancing the needs of her family. Keninger has six grown children,
one daughter and five sons. Five have established professional careers in management
positions in various fields, including computer software, public accounting,
banking and insurance. Her youngest is currently completing a masters degree in forestry
at Iowa State University. Keninger has seven grandchildren.
Keninger lives on an acreage southwest of Newton in a home she built in 2003. Her
interests include national and international travel, as well as reading,
writing, tandem biking and community theater.

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