Neelam Sahota receives provincial award for her work as chair of Surrey Libraries

DIVERSEcity CEO receives Trustee Excellence Award from the B.C. Library Trustees Association for her volunteer work with Surrey Libraries

DIVERSEcity’s Chief Executive Officer Neelam Sahota has won a prestigious award for her volunteer role as Board Chair of Surrey Libraries. She is one of this year’s recipients of the Trustee Excellence Award from the B.C. Library Trustees Association.

The annual award, which recognizes three trustees from the more than 700 serving on library boards in BC, honours those who have made “a major contribution to their public library and community through governance excellence.”

Neelam, who has served on the Surrey Libraries board since 2016, in addition to her leadership role at DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society, calls the award a “tremendous honour,” adding, “Libraries have been an integral part of my life and I am grateful for this opportunity to serve. Libraries inspire participation, create social connections and foster lifelong learning, which are all pivotal factors to building welcoming and inclusive communities.”

In connection to DIVERSEcity’s work supporting immigrants and refugees, Neelam appreciates that libraries are so welcoming for newcomers. “Newcomers are able to practise English and computer skills, get ready for the citizenship exam or read newspapers from around the world. Libraries are a safe haven for both learning and a safe space for enjoyment.”

As Board Chair, Neelam has strived to encourage engagement from all trustees and be a strong voice to advocate for library funding and support. Examples of her contributions include succession planning for the board, encouraging diversity, equity and inclusion principles, starting board meetings with a meaningful Indigenous land acknowledgment and supporting the establishment of a governance committee to improve board processes and procedures.

“Neelam is passionate about making a difference in her community and for Surrey Libraries,” said Surinder Bhogal, Chief Librarian at Surrey Libraries. “She is a strong community leader and inspiring role model. Her approach is progressive and collaborative. Neelam is highly valued on our board and respected by all the trustees.”