ALA President in Conversation with U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono


Saturday, January 22, 9:00am – 10:00am, CT

U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono is one of the most fiercely outspoken Democrats in Congress, but her journey to the U.S. Senate was far from likely. In "Heart of Fire: An Immigrant Daughter’s Story," "a motivating story even for those who are not ordinarily interested in politics" (Booklist), Senator Hirono compellingly chronicles her life as a woman coming into her own power over the course of five decades in public service, and of the mother whose courageous choices made her life possible. Hirono will be in conversation with Patricia (Patty) Wong, the first Asian American to serve as President of the American Library Association.


U.S. Senator of Hawaii, Mazie K. Hirono

Senator Mazie K. Hirono is the first Asian American woman and the only immigrant serving in the U.S. Senate. She is a passionate, outspoken Democrat who has spent her life as a dedicated public servant, standing up for workers, women, students and teachers, and immigrants.

In her remarkable memoir, “Heart of Fire: An Immigrant Daughter’s Story,” available now, Senator Hirono shares the intimate moments of her life as she carved out an unconventional, groundbreaking path that led her to ultimately hold one of the country’s highest offices. A deep homage to her mother, “Heart of Fire” illustrates the cultural and gendered lines the Senator walked daily, and what led her to oppose the Trump administration.

Senator Hirono is a graduate of the University of Hawaii, Manoa, and the Georgetown University Law Center. She has served in the Hawaii House of Representatives (1981-1994), as Hawaii’s lieutenant governor (1994-2002), and in the U.S. House of Representatives (2006-2013). She became the first Asian American female senator and Hawaii’s first female senator in 2013, winning reelection in 2018. Hirono serves on the Committee on the Judiciary, the Committee on Armed Services, and the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, among others.


Patricia "Patty" Wong – ALA President

Patricia (Patty) Wong is the first Asian American to serve as president of the American Library Association. Her term began July 2021 and closes at the adjournment of the 2022 Annual Conference. Wong has been an active ALA member for 37 years. She is a member of the Freedom to Read Foundation and, as an ALA Executive Board member, has worked with the association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee, Committee on Legislation, and the Conference Committee.

She is the City Librarian for the Santa Clara City Library. She has worked as a school librarian, children’s librarian, cataloger, and special librarian, as well as leadership roles in public libraries. Her work in managing change, equity and diversity, youth development, developing joint ventures and collaborations between public libraries and community agencies, and fundraising has been published in a number of journals, conference proceedings and edited collections. Wong also is the recipient of several awards, including the 2012 ALA Equality Award, CALA Distinguished Service Award (2014), and Member of the Year, California Library Association (2012).

She is also adjunct faculty for the iSchool at San Jose State University where she has taught hundreds of students to serve young people and write grants to benefit local and regional communities —and make the world a better place.

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