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2024 WLA Keynotes & Events

Stay tuned for more announcements on special events and conference keynotes for #WLA2024.

Thursday, February 29

Meet & Greet Reception
7:00pm-9:00pm | Spokane Public Library

Join us for our conference kick-off celebration! While enjoying light snacks and a no-host bar, you'll have the opportunity to grow your WLA community. Make some friends, learn how to make the most out of your conference attendance, and discover opportunities to get involved within WLA.

Friday, March 1

Welcome Breakfast & Keynote — Travis Baldree in Conversation with Robin Bradford
9:00am-10:15am | Banquet Hall

Travis Baldree is a New York Times Bestselling author, and a full-time audiobook narrator who has lent his voice to hundreds of stories. Before that, he spent decades designing and building video games like Torchlight, Rebel Galaxy, and Fate. He lives in the Pacific Northwest with his very patient family and their small, nervous dog.

Robin Bradford has found a home in building reader-focused, popular collections in public libraries. She was recognized as RWA’s 2016 Librarian of the Year, the Emerald City Writer's Conference Librarian of the Year in 2022 and is dedicated to helping others discover a love of reading. She has worked with authors of all genres to help get their titles into library collections, and wrote the Readers’ Advisory Guide to Romance Fiction to help libraries spice up their romance collection and give great readers' advisory in this area. 

Exhibit Hall Grand Opening
10:15am-11:00am | Exhibit Hall

Join us for the opening celebration of the 2024 WLA Exhibit Hall! Grab your morning coffee or tea in our Exhibit Hall, where vendors will be hosting live demos, raffles, Q&As, giveaways, and more. New this year, exciting Pop-Up programs will be scheduled in the exhibit hall; check back soon for details.

We All Belong Lunch: Connections & Conversations
12:45pm-1:45pm | Banquet Hall

Our Table Topics Lunch is designed to facilitate deeper conversations and allow you to forge more meaningful, lasting connections. You’ll be encouraged to branch out from your circles to sit with strangers who have shared interests, job roles, or challenges—but they won’t be strangers for long! You'll pick a table topic and refer to the guiding questions to get the conversation flowing. Whether you came to conference with colleagues or solo, you’ll leave this lunch with stronger ties to your WLA community.

WLA After Dark
7:30pm-9:15pm | Breakout Rooms & 

WLA After Dark is back again this year with evening sessions that are more irreverent, fun, or provocative than our standard conference fare.

Saturday, March 2

Author Breakfast with Christine Day, sponsored by ScLD & CAYAS
8:00am-9:45am | Banquet Hall

Join WLA’s School Library Division and Children and Young Adult Services (CAYAS) Section for our annual Author Breakfast with special guest Christine Day! 

Christine Day is a citizen of the Upper Skagit Indian Tribe. Her first novel, I Can Make This Promise, was a best book of the year from NPR, as well as a Charlotte Huck Award Honor Book, and an American Indian Youth Literature Award Honor Book. Her second novel, The Sea in Winter, was a Top 10 Indie Kids’ Next selection, a finalist for the Pacific Northwest Book Award, and an American Indian Youth Literature Award Honor Book. She also wrote She Persisted: Maria Tallchief, a biography in Chelsea Clinton’s book series about inspirational women. Her next book, We Still Belong, is coming to shelves in Summer 2023. Christine lives with her family in the rainy and resplendent Pacific Northwest.  

I Can Make This Promise was honored as a nominee for the 2022-3 Sasquatch Book Award. You'll hear about the other nominees of the WLA Book Awards, which are all voted on by the students of Washington State! Hear from the William C. Towner Award (informational texts for grades 2–6), Sasquatch Award (novels for grades 4–6), the Washington Children's Choice Picture Book Award (picture books for grades K–3), the OTTER Award (for transitional readers in grades K–5), and the Evergreen Teen Book Award (grades 6–12).

Awards Lunch
12:45pm-2:00pm | Banquet Hall

Help us celebrate the people who make the Washington library community so special! All attendees are invited to celebrate the innovations and accomplishments of our 2024 WLA Merit Award winners.

Exhibits Grand Finale
2:00pm-2:45pm | Exhibit Hall

Join us for the concluding celebration of this year's Exhibit Hall! Enjoy afternoon snacks and refreshments during the festive finale. Finish collecting stamps in your exhibitor passport, make final bids on silent auction items, and buy your last raffle tickets before the big winners are announced!

Closing Session – Narratives of Belonging: A Conversation on Representation & Radical Inclusion
2:45pm-3:45pm | Banquet Hall

Stay tuned for the announcement of our closing session speakers!

In our closing session, we will all come back together for a conversation about what it really means to belong. How can our libraries and the stories shared within them inspire connections, empower marginalized communities, and meet the needs of all our patrons and students? As the conference comes to a close, we hope you will feel inspired to move toward a future where every story within your library’s community is heard and valued.
Justina Chen is the author of nearly a dozen books, including six YA novels, a middle grade novel, a picture book, and a myriad of non-fiction books for leaders. Storytelling runs in her blood. After all, Justina’s middle name means illuminate, which is what story does: it throws light on a truth. As a speechwriter and story strategist, Justina works with exceptional leaders throughout the world and regularly conducts popular storytelling workshops, drawing on her work with Xbox. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, children, and fur baby. When she’s not writing, you can probably find Justina friender-cizing—working out with friends, whether it’s snowshoeing, hiking, or rucking around her neighborhood. Justina won the Asian Pacific American Literature Award for Nothing but the Truth (and a few white lies). North of Beautiful was a finalist of 9 state book awards. Her other accolades include: A Kirkus Best Books of the Year, Booklist Top Ten Books, Texas Library Association Lone Star Reading Lists, IRA Notable Book, New York Public Library Best Book for the Teen Age, Chicago Public Library Best of the Best, Junior Library Guild premiere selection, and Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People.
Denise Neujahr (she/her/hers) has worked in Youth Services in libraries for 25 years, and she is currently the Youth Services Manager at the Spokane Public Library. In 2023, Denise was the recipient of the American Library Association’s Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity. She is passionate about providing a welcoming space, equal access to resources, and diverse experiences to everyone in the community. 
Kiantha Duncan (moderator) is an avid writer, artist and philanthropist. For over 20 years Kiantha has been recognized nationally as a community advocate, mobilizer and leader. As a former foster child having experienced traumatic Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), Kiantha’s lived experience, passion and long standing commitment to leadership serve as drivers for both her personal and professional life. Kiantha is a speaker, columnist, author and radio personality. Kiantha’s reputation as a story teller and facilitator precedes her. In 2019 Kiantha was a TedX speaker in which she shared her experience being “A Perfect 10.” By taking the experience of having 10 out of 10 on the Adverse Childhood Experience assessment, and leaving listeners with inspiration and challenges to repurpose those negative experiences for good thus pouring into others. Kiantha is passionate about helping others actualize their potential through conversations and the art of storytelling. Kiantha understands the power of a story and how one's story can be a place for healing, finding common ground and actualizing one's full potential.