John Keister & Associates

Executive Search for Libraries and Nonprofits

John Keister is uniquely qualified as an executive recruiter in two seemingly unrelated areas: Libraries/Non-Profits and Engineering. How did this happen? Well, let’s back up a bit.
Photo of John Keister

John holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering with post-graduate coursework in business management and administration. He spent several years working as an engineer in the automotive and aerospace industries. But John is a “people person” and eventually discovered that he liked
talking to and about engineers and leading edge technology more than he enjoyed being an engineer. The transition to recruiting for top technology companies was natural.

At the same time, one of John’s passions is libraries. He has been involved with public libraries for more than 30 years in various capacities. When working with libraries, John draws upon his extensive experience as an elected Public Library Trustee and Library Board President. He also served multiple terms on the Board of Directors of a library consortium made up of public, special, school, and academic libraries in suburban Chicago.

John has advocated on behalf of libraries at the local, state, and federal levels, been an invited speaker at many library conferences, and has raised community awareness of library issues through town meetings, focus groups, print and broadcast media. Library-related services, non-profits, and associations have been a natural and complementary addition to John's interests and work experience.

In addition to search, John also provides customized coaching and training to help boards become more efficient and effective.

Photo of Beth Keister
Beth Keister also brings a mix of technical expertise and consulting experience to the firm. After earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics and a Master of Science degree in Statistics, Beth worked in various technical positions for commercial and non-profit organizations, taught university level mathematics, and consulted with major educational publishers in the area of copyrights and permissions.

Beth has trained the staffs of several libraries, library systems, and non-profits on a variety of software products used to create programs and reports that support daily operations. Beth handles many of the "behind the scenes" functions of our firm, designing and maintaining our databases and websites, conducting research for the search process, and using social media to create awareness.


Sarah Keister Armstrong specializes in providing community needs assessments and strategic planning services to libraries and non-profits through her own firm, Sarah Keister Armstrong & Associates. Her awareness of industry trends and issues, coupled with a keen understanding of each organization's unique circumstances and demographics, helps us focus our efforts on the type of leader who will be most effective for every search we undertake.

Sarah has Public Library Trustee experience and served on the Board of RAILS (Reaching Across Illinois Library System) and as a Director-at-Large of the Illinois Library Association. She is an active member of the American Evaluation Association and American Library Association. Sarah holds a Master of Public Policy and Administration degree and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Sociology. Sarah has been an invited speaker at numerous library conferences and has authored several articles on workplace issues and related topics.


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