Felton Thomas, Jr. - Participant

Felton Thomas, Jr. was appointed Director of the Cleveland Public Library (CPL) in January 2009.  Since then, he has positioned CPL as a community deficit fighter and launched initiatives aimed at addressing community needs in the areas of technology, education, and economic development. 

During Felton’s tenure, CPL has maintained its “Five Star” status and been named a “Top Innovator” by the Urban Libraries Council for its use of technology and data to inform decision making.  Felton also has guided CPL through the worst recession in decades by actively seeking input from the community, and then reducing CPL’s budget by millions while still providing superior service and keeping all neighborhood branches open.

Felton’s vision for the Library is that of a strong leader in defining a more prosperous future for Cleveland by battling the digital divide, illiteracy, unemployment, and other community deficits with innovative programming and action at all branches. He has also launched a “Downtown Destination” campaign to reposition the Main Library for the 21st century and market its status as a major downtown attraction.

Prior to accepting the position of Director of CPL, Felton served as Director of Regional Branch Services for the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District in Las Vegas, Nevada and President of the Nevada Library Association.

In June of 2010, Felton was asked to serve on Mayor Frank G. Jackson’s Group Plan Commission. The Commission was brought together to coordinate the planning of Malls A, B, C, and Public Square and their environs in the context of several significant downtown projects: The Medical Mart/Convention Center, a Casino, Flats East Bank, and the Port Authority’s Waterfront Development Plan. Soon after, Felton was named the chair of the Community and Public Participation Subcommittee.

Felton is a native of Las Vegas, where, as a youth, he first developed his passion for libraries.  At age 13, he became the youngest employee in Las Vegas-Clark County Library District history when a librarian noticed his enthusiasm and encouraged him to become a page.  Thirty years later, the young page has moved up the library ranks to become Director of one of the best libraries in the country.

Felton earned his undergraduate degree in psychology from The University of Nevada-Las Vegas and his Masters in Library Science from The University of Hawaii, and is currently pursuing his PhD in Managerial Leadership Management at Simmons College.

Felton lives in Shaker Heights with his wife and two daughters, is an accomplished musician, and has become a devoted Cleveland sports fan since his arrival on the shores of Lake Erie.



Cleveland Public Library


Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer

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