2017 Commencement Speaker

Brian Bannon '97 speaks during the Meant to Live lecture Oct. 14, 2016.

Lute leading Chicago Public Library chosen as Commencement 2017 speaker

Pacific Lutheran University is proud to welcome back distinguished Lute, Brian Bannon ’97, as its keynote speaker for Commencement 2017.

Bannon has served as commissioner and chief executive officer of the Chicago Public Library system since 2012. He has nearly 20 years of experience developing and implementing innovative educational programs and leading large-scale operations that provide digital skills training, community-based learning, and educational advancement for children, families, and adults.

He’s at the helm of one of the largest public library systems in the world — with 77 branches, two regional hubs and an annual budget of $130 million. His tenure includes building an executive team that has dramatically changed the library’s organizational direction and put human-centered design at the forefront of operations. The changes have improved access to high-quality learning opportunities for Chicago residents and an entrepreneurial culture, sparking replication nationwide.

In the past five years, summer program attendance at the Chicago Public Library has grown by 80 percent to more than 100,000 children. The increase has been linked to improved in-school performance in math, science and reading.
These and other results — spearheaded by Bannon’s mission-driven leadership — have led to new philanthropic, business, research and social-sector partnerships. Additionally, financial investments in the library system have grown to more than $100 million in five years.

Bannon was one of the first queer leaders on PLU’s campus and was active in drama. He also was a member of the PLU swim team.

Prior to working in Chicago, Bannon held leadership roles at the San Francisco Public Library, Seattle Public Library and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. After receiving his bachelor’s degree from PLU, he earned a master’s degree in library and information science from the University of Washington Information School.