Media Relations Specialist
(Kansas City, Mo.) - The Kansas City Public Library’s board of trustees has chosen its first new president in 17 years. Pete Browne, co-founder and president of Kissick Construction, was elected during the panel’s monthly meeting Tuesday, January 18.
He succeeds Jonathan Kemper, who had served as president since 2005. He remains a member of the nine-person board.
Browne has served on the Library board since 2020 and chairs its building oversight committee. He sits on numerous boards in the city, including those of the Folly Theater, Notre Dame de Sion Schools, and the Kansas City Industrial Council.
He says he hopes to build on the foundation that past leaders have created, noting Jonathan Kemper and former Library Director Crosby Kemper III in particular.
“My role is to be a cheerleader for the organization and really be an advocate in the community for why the Kansas City Public Library is needed, valued, and should continue to thrive,” Browne says.
A Kansas City native, Browne lives in midtown with his wife Julie and three children. He considers himself a product of the Kansas City Library system, having spent a great deal of time at many of its 10 locations.
Jonathan Kemper’s time with the Library spans more than two decades. Appointed to the board of trustees in 2001, he was instrumental in relocating the Central Library to the historic former headquarters of the First National Bank in 2004. His tenure also has seen the opening of new facilities for the Library’s Irene H. Ruiz and Plaza branches and the significant renovation of other locations – most recently the North-East Branch.
“It definitely is unusual for a board president to have a long tenure. And it’s healthy, I think, to bring on new leadership and have a deep bench beyond it,” Kemper says. “... With (Executive Director) John Herron’s leadership and the good work of his predecessor, Crosby, the Library is poised for continued great performance and community service.”
Filling out the board of trustees' leadership, Claudia Oñate Greim and Laura Dominik were reelected Tuesday as vice president and secretary-treasurer, respectively.