Event Author

Friday, November 4, 2016
Main Library
96 S. Grant Ave., Columbus, OH 43215

Celebration of Learning is Columbus Metropolitan Library Foundation’s largest annual event and one of the most anticipated evenings on the city’s cultural calendar.

The event features a noted author and the presentation of The Julian Sinclair Smith Award for Lifelong Learning to a Columbus resident who has demonstrated a dedication to reading and education. Business, philanthropic, and civic leaders will also enjoy drinks, a strolling dinner, and an evening of conversation and connection.

This year’s program promises a spirited exchange between two men at the intersection of politics, media, and the law. Our featured speaker, best-selling author and CNN senior analyst Jeffrey Toobin, has provided analysis on some of the most provocative and important events of our time with unparalleled journalistic skill.

He’ll be interviewed by Michael Krasny, host of the award-winning KQED “FORUM,” a program discussing news and public affairs, current events, culture, health, business and technology.

The funds raised will be instrumental in creating community centerpieces that inspire and transform lives, help educate children, and ensure that knowledge and opportunities are available for generations to come.


Teen Author Visit

October 18-20

Celebration of Learning is extended to provide students with the opportunity to hear a voice that speaks to their generation, author Jason Reynolds. Mr. Reynolds is the author of critically acclaimed When I Was the Greatest, for which he was the recipient of the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent.

Click here to learn more!

2016 Celebration of Learning Committee

  • Wayne Lawson
  • Corde Westwater Robinson
Committee Members:  
  • Carol Andreae
  • John Behal
  • Jen Bowden
  • Linda Brown
  • Tony Brown
  • Ingrid Brownlee
  • Delaney Burgdoerfer
  • Christina Cheng
  • Sue Cooper
  • Melanie DeAscentis
  • Barb Derrow
  • DeeDee Glimcher
  • Mary Jo Green
  • Jennifer Hadden
  • Susan Horvath
  • Melissa Ingwersen
  • Charlotte Kessler
  • Patrick King
  • Trip Lazarus
  • John Lowe
  • Marie-Luise Marx
  • Carol McGuire
  • Antoinette Mongillo
  • Shannon Morgan
  • Chelsea Penzone
  • Lucy Porter
  • Cindy Rasmussen
  • Lynne Redgrave
  • Renée Shumate
  • Sheila Smith
  • Cathy Strauss
  • Roger Sugarman
  • Charles Turney
  • Edward Yen
  • Ellen Yen

2016 Sponsors

2016 Honorary Chairs

Donna and Nick Akins

We thank Donna and Nick Akins for serving as our honorary chairs. Donna and Nick are known throughout our community for supporting and playing an active, positive role in central Ohio.

As the current chairman, president and chief executive officer of American Electric Power (AEP), Nick has helped strengthen the partnership between AEP and Columbus Metropolitan Library. Not only does this year mark over twenty years with AEP as a sponsor of Celebration of Learning, but AEP is also a lead supporter of Columbus Metropolitan Library Foundation’s Great Libraries Create campaign. Nick personally serves on numerous boards including The Columbus Partnership, Edison Electric Institute, Fifth Third Bancorp, OhioHealth and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

Donna Akins dedicates her free time to serving as a community volunteer with the Homeless Family Foundation, the YWCA, and United Way of Central Ohio. She has previously co-led successful fundraising campaigns for the YWCA and United Way with Nick. Donna currently sits on The New Albany Community Foundation Board.

Donna and Nick live in Dublin, Ohio. They are the proud parents of two adult sons, Matthew and Christopher.


2016 Julian Sinclair Smith Award

Barbara and Al Siemer

Cleveland native, Al Siemer, started Desco Corporation in 1966 and the company grew from acquisitions. The manufacturing holding company now employs 1500 associates and Al is still actively involved with Desco.

The Siemers adopted Columbus as their home in 1983 and with Desco’s continued success, they sought ways to give back to their community, first by joining United Way’s Tocqueville Society. In addition to serving 16 years on the Columbus Metropolitan Library Foundation Board, Barbara Siemer has also served on the board of the The New Albany Community Foundation. Today, she continues to serve on the boards of the Columbus Museum of Art, I Know I Can, and The Columbus Foundation’s Governing Committee.

In 2003, following a study on the negative effects of student mobility in Columbus City Schools, Barbara, a former high school English teacher, began an experiment in Sarasota, Florida dedicated to keeping children in their schools by stabilizing families in imminent danger of eviction. By 2011, the Siemer Institute for Family Stability was created and the initiative began spreading across the country. Their program now operates in 53 of the largest cities in the United States. In 2015, the institute served over 30,000 families.

Barbara and Al have two children, Elizabeth and David, and three grandchildren with another on the way.


  • Columbus Hospitality
  • Expressions Floral Design Studio
  • Heidelberg Distributing Co.
  • Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams
  • Thirty-One Gifts
  • Vital Companies
  • White Castle System, Inc.
Additional Support
  • AT&T
  • Barnes & Thornburg LLP
  • Carlile Patchen & Murphy LLP
  • Franklin International
  • Hamilton Parker Company

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