Nichelle Hayes, the librarian at the center of a months-long controversy over the Indianapolis Public Library CEO selection process, has parted ways with the library after nine years.
Hayes has led the Central Library’s Center for Black Literature & Culture since 2016, but became better known publicly during the nine months she spent as as interim CEO during most of 2022.
In a statement Wednesday, the library’s board of trustees said Hayes would part ways with the library effective immediately in a mutual decision. The statement acknowledged her work, including her time as interim chief.
“Nichelle M. Hayes has been an asset to the Indianapolis Public Library and the community as a whole for many years,” the board of trustees said in a statement. “During a difficult transitional period for the library, Ms. Hayes stepped up and skillfully filled the role of Interim CEO. Ms. Hayes and the Library have decided to mutually part ways. The Library wishes her the best of luck in her future endeavors and appreciates her many years of dedication to the organization.”
In late 2022, the board of trustees’ decision not to promote Hayes, a Black woman, from interim to official chief executive reignited concerns of racial discrimination in the library system. In December 2022, the seven-member board’s decision to offer the job to a white former director of libraries in New Orleans and Atlanta over Hayes sparked protests from library union members, former library employees and advocates that demanded transparency from the board, asking, “Why not Nichelle?”
In a lengthy LinkedIn post, Hayes thanked her supporters and reflected on her work at the library. She referred, briefly, to those who supported her as a candidate for CEO.
“I want to thank everyone who prayed, supported, advocated, wrote letters, and attended meetings in support of me. I am beyond humbled by the love and support,” Hayes wrote.
In the post, she named a few advocates with prominent voices who called for her to become the library’s chief executive. These included Stephen Lane, an advocate-turned-board-member, and Michael Torres, the library’s union leader.
She succeeded former interim CEO John Helling, who departed to take on a role at the Hamilton East Public Library System, and former CEO Jackie Nytes, who resigned following allegations of racism and discrimination in 2021.
The board named Gregory Hill to the chief executive role last spring. Hill was a former interim CEO and acting public services officer.