Senior Career Counselor, Department Head, Career, Education & Information Services (CEIS), Bronx Library Center, New York Public Library
MS, Public Affairs and Administration, Metropolitan College of New York, 2015
Photo courtesy of Robyn Saunders
For more than 25 years, Robyn Saunders has worked with people seeking to change their lives. That number is about equal to the number of nominations she received—from colleagues, social workers, community board members, organizations, job seekers, and others.
Since 2012, she’s been senior career counselor with the New York Public Library (NYPL) and the head of Career, Education and Information Services (CEIS) at the Bronx Library Center (BLC), the largest NYPL branch in the borough. Her department has helped more than 15,000 people gain meaningful employment, return to school, or enhance their skill sets with training.
Through CEIS, patrons can book one-on-one career coaching and résumé assistance, attend career workshops, and more at branches in the Bronx and upper Manhattan. Especially noteworthy are the job fairs. The first, held in 2013 at BLC, drew more than 1,000 attendees, 20 employers, and a host of vendors. The fairs offer on-site interviews, job readiness workshops, and other services.
“I try never to refuse an invitation [to a job fair] from Robyn,” says Deborah O’Connor, a recruiter for NYC Transit Authority. “Her efforts provide NYC-based employers…with in-person access to a diverse, community-based talent pool. All of the job fairs are managed with precision.”
Saunders collaborates with organizations and government agencies citywide, including the mayor’s office and the Bronx borough president’s office, to promote both jobs for patrons and better representation of community concerns. She herself serves as second vice chair on the executive committee of Bronx Community Board 7.
A solid example of that engagement occurred in February 2017 when Saunders organized the first annual veterans breakfast at Lehman College, CUNY, where government officials “recognized, amplified, and honored” veterans and service providers by presenting them with “Soaring Eagle Awards,” Saunders says.
Many of the award winners are patrons of BLC, where she and her team work with them to transition back into the community as civilians, refer them for employment, and advocate on their behalf for access to support services.
Saunders’s department also facilitates career workshops at local high schools, colleges, treatment facilities, homeless shelters, and correctional institutions. “Our goal is to create a ripple effect that leads to quality change in the lives of our patrons and communities,” Saunders says. “We share our experiences, abilities, and skills to help others who are often at a crossroads…and unsure about the next direction to take.”