April 18, 2018

Mario Ascencio | Movers & Shakers 2008

Anger into Fuel

REFORMA president Mario Ascencio understands the value of diversity at a gut level. An American of Salvadoran descent raised in a Mexican American enclave in Los Angeles, he saw personally how educators’ assumptions that minority students couldn’t succeed could translate into self-fulfilling prophecies, and that made him mad. Today, Ascencio says, he no longer gets angry about prejudice; instead, he turns his anger into fuel that powers his “drive to make a positive impact in my communities.”

As a 17-year-old library page, Ascencio once helped a timid, illiterate Latina get her library card. The experience made him realize the extent to which libraries could affect the disadvantaged, and from that moment on, he resolved to become a librarian. Now, as visual arts liaison librarian at George Mason University Libraries, he’s also one of the few Latino professionals on campus. A past beneficiary of REFORMA sponsorships, he makes a point of mentoring the university’s minority students and supports its Spanish-speaking MLS students’ attendance at REFORMA conferences.

Veronda Pitchford, program officer at the Urban Libraries Council, says Ascencio is adamant that REFORMA be “an organization of librarians who serve Spanish-speaking populations and their supporters, not just an association of Latino and Hispanic librarians.” Further, she says, he is devoted to the empowerment of other minorities, reflected in his work with ALA’s Black Caucus, GLBT Round Table, American Indian Library Association, and Asian Pacific American Library Association.

Through his leadership among multiple generations, cultures, and perspectives, Ascencio is proof that channeled anger is a powerful instrument for change.


CURRENT POSITION Visual Arts Liaison Librarian, George Mason University Libraries, Fairfax, VA

DEGREE MLIS, University of California–Los Angeles, 1999

EARLY RISER One of the American Library Association’s (ALA) first class of Emerging Leaders

BLOG Between X and Y: betweenxandy.blogspot.com

FASHIONISTA Coordinates his clothing and accessories from head to toe