February 17, 2018

William Chan | Movers & Shakers 2016 – Community Builders

William Chan


Program Coordinator, New Americans Project, Denver Public Libray


Non-Profit Management, University of Denver, 2013


Denver Asian Pacific-American Commission, Denver County Cultural Council, Regional Ambassador, White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders


@realwillchan (Twitter, Instagram); www.denverlibrary.org/services-immigrants; www.denverlibrary.org/category/free-tagging/plaza-voices

Photo ©2016 Shawn G. Henry

Welcome Committee

For William Chan, librarianship is more than a career: it’s a personal calling. The son of immigrants—his mother was a Chinese refugee from Vietnam, his father an undocumented immigrant from Hong Kong—Chan was inspired by “seeing the struggles [they went through] to have a better life for me. All the opportunities they didn’t have.”

As coordinator for the New Americans Project at Denver Public Library (DPL), Chan is motivated to provide these opportunities to others. Through grant-funded initiatives such as Mi Biblioteca, Mi Futuro, and Plazas, which enable hiring facilitators from immigrants’ and refugees’ own communities who speak their languages, he offers access to valuable resources, from English conversation classes to panel-style “How I Made It” networking events, where immigrants share their trajectories to success.

“The progress Chan has achieved in only five years [the project is now at 12 branches] cannot have come at a more timely moment, when Denver’s immigrant, refugee, and asylee populations now make up one-sixth of our city’s population,” says Pilar Castro-Reino, group manager at DPL.

In addition to reaching many newcomers—in 2015, the project saw 31,151 attendees—Chan is providing a vulnerable and often underserved population with something crucial: a sense of belonging. “I [want] to find a way to…empower [different] groups of people to create their own voice[s] in this landscape,” he says.

This article was published in Library Journal's March 15, 2016 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.



  1. Congratulations! Thank you for representing DPL!

  2. Larry Maynard says:

    Felicidades Will! As a library branch that hosts the amazing Plaza programs, I have personally seen the amazing results of Mr. Chan’s hard work and the positive impact his dedication brings. He provides opportunities to amazing bilingual and bi-cultural staff to help and assist our new immigrant and refugee communities adapt, prosper and grow through library programming. I’ve witnessed first hand how his hard work, and all those that partner with DPL and the Immigrant Services Initiatives, changes lives every day. Keep up the good work!