Empowering Future Managers through Cohort Mentoring


Staff working together like cogs in a machine.

Since before the pandemic, San Mateo County Libraries in California struggled to retain top performing staff and fill key management roles internally. Promotional candidates felt they lacked the skills to make the jump to manager and didn’t know how to obtain them. Meanwhile, existing managers were less concerned about skillsets and more concerned with candidates’ ability to navigate the library system’s unique organizational culture. Mentorship is a proven way to help staff gain perspective, practical skills, and second-hand experience, but can be difficult to manage with limited time and resources. That’s why San Mateo County Libraries developed a program that brings the best of all worlds. Learn how cohort mentoring addresses skills that are hard to gain on the job and is an investment in staff growth that positively impacts an organization’s equity goals, long-term sustainability, and success.

Originally presented December 13, 2023.

Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of this on-demand webinar, participants will be able to:

  • Recognize critical issues regarding staff retention and succession planning;
  • Identify ways a mentorship program can help their organization; and
  • Adapt a cohort-based program that fits their organization's needs.

Who Should Attend

This on-demand webinar is intended for public library supervisors, managers, and directors; human resources staff; and anyone with an interest in staff development, retention, and succession planning.


Danae RamirezDanae Ramirez is a deputy director at San Mateo County Libraries overseeing administrative services including human resources, finance, information technology, and facilities. During her seven years with San Mateo County Libraries, three of those have been spent in the role of deputy director. Danae’s extensive experience in policy, human resources, and finance provided an excellent foundation for her work with San Mateo County Libraries. Danae is currently leading the library’s efforts to build four new makerspaces and scale up makerspace programming. She holds a master’s degree in public administration from San Diego State University and a bachelor’s degree in communication from UC San Diego. Danae’s previous professional experience includes working for the County of San Diego for over ten years in various roles including as a policy advisor for a county supervisor, a policy analyst for the Office of Strategy and Intergovernmental Affairs, and as an analyst in the Human Resources Department.


Cary MossingCary Mossing (she/they) is a community library manager at San Mateo County Libraries, Brisbane Library. She has worked at San Mateo County Libraries in multiple locations since 2019. Cary was part of the first graduating LEAD cohort for supervisors and accepted a promotion to her current position while participating in the program. She is a lead mental health first aid trainer, ensuring that all staff in the San Mateo community libraries are trained to respond compassionately and appropriately to someone experiencing a mental health crisis. Cary received her undergraduate degree at the University of Mississippi and her master of science in information from the University of Michigan. Her previous professional experience in San Antonio, TX, included work as a teen services librarian and an assistant branch manager.


David VargasDavid Vargas is an adult services librarian at San Mateo County Libraries, Belmont Library, and has been providing wonderful customer service at San Mateo County Libraries for over seven years. David was part of the first graduating LEAD cohort for non-supervising staff and is already putting his leadership skills into practice. David is currently hosting artificial intelligence workshops at community libraries throughout our system. In addition, David is developing a maker-in-residence program to activate STEAM based experiential learning through programming in our makerspaces. David holds a master's degree in library and information science from San Jose State University, and a bachelor's degree in sociology from San Diego State University.


Important Registration Information

Log into or create your ALA eLearning account

An ALA eLearning account is required to register. Don’t have an account? Create one for free by going to the “Log in” menu located at the top right corner of your screen. No membership is required to create the account.

Redeem your signup code to complete your registration

Once you’ve registered for this on-demand webinar, a signup code will be added to your ALA eLearning account and emailed to you. Find the signup code on your signup code page, then redeem it on your account’s dashboard to complete your enrollment in this on-demand webinar.

Review the ALA eLearning FAQ if you need more information.


This on-demand webinar is closed captioned in English (United States).

If you have a physical or communication need that may affect your access to this on-demand webinar, please contact us at plawebinars@ala.org or 800-545-2433 ext. 5PLA (5752) prior to registering so we can attempt to provide appropriate accommodations.

Tech Requirements

To play this on-demand webinar you should use a browser with native HTML5 support. Please use the most up-to-date version available of Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, or Edge. A fast Internet connection and computer is recommended.


This webinar is presented by the Public Library Association (PLA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA).

If you have questions or problems accessing a recording, send a message to plawebinars@ala.org or call 800-545-2433 ext. 5PLA (5752).

Public Library Association (PLA) logo