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VALERIE J. GROSS, MM, MLS, JD, has served as President & CEO of Howard County Library System (HCLS) in Maryland since 2001. She takes pride in HCLS’ unparalleled curriculum—including A+ Partners in Education—which earned HCLS the prestigious status of 2013 Library of the Year (Gale/Library Journal) from a field of 21,000 public and academic library systems.

A passionate promoter of libraries, Gross has led the repositioning of HCLS as an educational institution, which has heightened respect, increased funding, and driven significant increases in annual usage statistics. Since 2001, items borrowed doubled (7.4 million in FY 13), as did research assistance interactions (2 million). Categories that tripled include physical visits (3.2 million), and class and event attendance (more than a quarter of a million). All this in a county of 282,000 residents.

A frequent speaker and workshop leader, Gross has authored the book Transforming Our Image, Building Our Brand: The Education Advantage. She received the Public Libraries Best Feature Article Award in 2012 and 2010, and was honored as a Library Journal Mover and Shaker in 2004. An educator and attorney for nearly 30 years, Gross holds a Master of Music from San Francisco Conservatory of Music, a Master of Library Science from San Jose State University, and a law degree from Golden Gate University School of Law. Ms. Gross grew up in Switzerland and has taught English in China.