Library trustees offer important qualities to serve community

Elkhart Public Library doesn’t run itself. Respected community members volunteer their time to serve on the Board of Library Trustees

And these seven qualified individuals reflect the diverse communities served by EPL. 

Did you know …  

• The board’s work history is widely varied: classroom teacher, nurse, HVAC contractor, lawyer, community organizer, and – most importantly – moms and dads; 

• One board member’s father was a local pastor, two board members were previously elected to public office, one was a university lecturer, and one served as president of a statewide association of business managers; 

• All board members have current volunteer involvement with community groups outside the library, promoting the local arts, serving our children through schools and youth programs, and membership with service clubs; 

• The board carefully comprises representation of all five of the library locations and all three of the townships served; and 

• The board members are selected by local elected officials, such as local school boards and the Elkhart County Council and Board of Commissioners. 

These community-minded volunteers serving on the EPL board have close connections to our community. They serve the population of 96,000 in our district with thoughtful care and responsibility to the taxpayers.  

Trustees look after tax dollars, but they also can have a bit of fun.
Library trustees also have a bit of fun. During a 2018 meeting, board members made slime as an example of educational children’s programming. Pictured are trustees Carlos Esteves (left) and Clarence Thomas with his young son.

Learn more about your library trustees:

Jim Rieckhoff – Attorney and trust banker, veteran, elected to four terms as Elkhart Superior Court 5 judge, president of Elkhart Police Merit Commission, Elkhart Rotary Club member, avid supporter of local arts and culture 

Jeri Stahr – Retired Elkhart Community Schools elementary teacher, supervisor of student teachers for IUSB, elected for 28 years of service on the Elkhart School Board, Four Arts Club board of directors, active involvement at First Congregational United Church of Christ and the Elkhart Homeless Coalition 

Laura Steffen – Experience teaching at elementary and middle school levels in South Bend and Middlebury, master’s degree in educational leadership, Academic Super Bowl coach and officer in Pinewood Elementary PTO 

Clarence Thomas – Highly involved in local youth activities, marketing and community engagement background, member of the Tolson Center for Community Excellence board 

Carlos Esteves – Local business owner in the HVAC services field, past president of Elkhart Rotary Club, served as Deputy Undersecretary of Education in Peru, tutor and translator for parents at Pinewood Elementary School, master’s degree in philosophy and a past lecturer at the National University of San Marcos in Peru 

Jennifer Nielsen Mulvaney – Nurse, active supporter of public schools and libraries 

Janet Gruwell – Retired business manager for Concord Community Schools, coordinator of Concord’s Title IX civil rights compliance, former president of Indiana Association of School Business Officials