Tonya Garcia

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Tonya Garcia
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Monmouth County, New Jersey
CitizenshipUnited States of America
EducationDoctorate in Public Administration
  • 2020 NJSL Innovation Award
  • 2019 Global Citizen Award
  • 2017 Long Branch Remarkable Women Award
  • 2017 Library Journal Mover
  • Shaker Award

Tonya Garcia is the first Latina librarian to be elected President of the New Jersey Library Association[1] and first hired as Long Branch Free Public Library Director. [2] Garcia is the chair of the NJ-Civic Community Recovery Taskforce[3]. In 2017 Tonya was recognized as a Library Journal Mover & Shaker[4] and in 2016, she was awarded the Key to the City of Long Branch[5] after being recognized by the New Jersey Library Association as Librarian of the Year[6]. Additionally, Ms. Garcia received the distinct honor of having Tonya Garcia Day[7] declared in both City of Long Branch[8] and the County of Monmouth[9]. She is a two-time recipient of the IMLS 21st Century Laura Bush Diversity Scholarship and also served as the Vice-President of the Monmouth Librarians Association. Tonya Garcia is the creator of Team Jump Off, a nonprofit that was run out of her home to encourage youth to take responsibility for their future through self empowerment. This nonprofit was featured in Family Circle Magazine, NY Times[10] and additional publications.


Tonya Angelique Garcia is a native of Monmouth County, New Jersey. Her father’s family came to this country from Puerto Rico in the 60s and her mother’s family from Sicily in the early 1900s. Eventually her parents would meet and marry in Fort Monmouth. Tonya grew up in Eatontown, NJ [11]and spent most of her early adult years as a stay at home mother raising four sons. As a teenager that left high school before graduating (now pursuing a Doctorate in Public administration) she champions the value of empowerment through literacy and equal opportunity in education.

In 2004 she relocated to Long Branch, New Jersey and founded Team Jump Off, a nationally recognized organization that worked to empower dozens of urban youth to take responsibility for their future through civic engagement and personal growth opportunities. Of the twenty five participants, 20 went on attend secondary education. During this time, she also started work at the Long Branch Free Public Library as a part-time computer lab monitor. Soon after, she was twice awarded the IMLS Laura Bush Diversity Recruitment Grant[12] which gave her the opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree from Thomas Edison University[13] and a Masters of Library and Information Science from Rutgers University.[14] In 2013, she was promoted to Library Director.[15] In 2019 she was elected President of the New Jersey Library Association.

Serving the community inspirits her as does rising to the challenge of being a mother to four young adult sons. "I remain focused and devoted to my life’s mission of doing my small part in breaking the cycles of poverty. Everyone wants to know that their life matters. It’s our responsibility to empower one another to believe it." She sums up both her professional and personal creed with one quote. “Never take a person’s dignity: it is worth everything to them, and nothing to you.” ~ Frank Barron (psychologist)


Tonya A. Garcia is the first Latina to be elected President of the New Jersey Library Association (2019) and is the current director of the Long Branch Free Public Library. Ms. Garcia champions service-based leadership, dignity, and libraries. Her theme as NJLA President was “Know Your Why” which authentically reflects her leadership style.

Ms. Garcia is a dedicated, driven strategist who works to clarify, reaffirm, enhance, and communicate the value of NJ Libraries. Ms. Garcia has led library innovation and development by redefining the roles of libraries and is responsible for designing services such as the 2020 Back to Business Pandemic Recovery program[16] as well as nationally recognized initiatives such as the 2015 Community Connects Social Work Initiative[17], 2008 Back to Work Program, 2009 Fresh-Start Reentry Services and the 2005 Diversity and Inclusion Initiative. These initiatives resulted in the creation of an array of services and policies including the creation of a Technology and Career Center with the design of a Virtual Career Center, the Fade to Books Barbershop Literacy Program [18]and the Fresh Start Reentry Service[19] (all adopted by the New Jersey State Library and expanded state-wide). nd Monmouth County Reentry Task Force, as well as past New Jersey Library Association President (2019) and Monmouth Librarians Association Vice-President (2013), I have earned a solid affiliation and reputable work experience with all three major NJ library organizations (LibraryLinkNJ, New Jersey State Library and New Jersey Library Association) and have served on multiple regional, state and national task forces, advisory boards, executive boards and committees promoting library services for all NJ residents at local, state and national levels. This unique experience affords me the ability to establish and maintain collaborative relationships with various library types, county systems, consortiums, non-library organizations, library constituents and with local, state and federal officials.

Ms. Garcia has served on numerous consortial, state and national taskforces and committees and is a two-time appointee to the New Jersey State Library Network Review Board. She is the co-creator of the NJ Civic Community Recovery Committee and one of the chairs of the Monmouth Country Reentry Taskforce. As a member of the NJLA Public Policy Committee[20] she is a five-time Advocacy Captain for her legislative district. Ms. Garcia is the only librarian to serve on the American Psychological Association's Pathways to Equity: Addressing Racial Disparities Experienced by Boys and Men of Color task force in Washington Dc, under President Obama’s Administration[21].

Under her direction, the Long Branch Free Public Library has been honored with significant legislative, national, state, and city awards, Proclamation and recognition. She has led trainings across the country and has been a guest speaker at numerous conferences and webinars both statewide and nationally. Additionally, her work has been Citation in numerous books, professional journals and research papers.


2020 NJSL Innovation Award 2019 Global Citizen Award 2017 Long Branch Remarkable Women Award 2017 Library Journal Mover & Shaker Award 2017 NJSL Innovative Partnership Award 2017 Awarded Key to the City of Long Branch 2017 New Jersey General Assembly Resolution 2016 Certificate of Congressional Recognition 2016 NJ Library Association Librarian of the Year 2014 NJSL Innovation Award 2012 NJ Library Association Rising Star Award 2008 Servant Service Award 2007 Prevention in Excellence Award 2006 & 2004 Recipient of the IMLS Laura Bush 21st Century Diversity Recruitment Scholarship


  1. "Home". Retrieved 2021-01-29.
  2. "Long Branch Free Public Library". Long Branch Free Public Library. Retrieved 2021-01-29.
  3. "Libraries Announce Survey on Resident Needs in COVID-19 Crisis". Asbury Park, NJ Patch. 2020-05-26. Retrieved 2021-01-29.
  4. Journal, Library. "Tonya Angelique Garcia | Movers & Shakers 2017 – Innovators". Library Journal. Retrieved 2021-01-29.
  5. Radel, Dan. "Long Branch loves its trailblazing librarian. Find out why". Asbury Park Press. Retrieved 2021-01-29.
  6. "NJLA Librarian of the Year". Retrieved 2021-01-29.
  7. Radel, Dan. "WATCH: Long Branch librarian crowned". The Burlington Free Press. Retrieved 2021-01-29.
  8. "Welcome to the Official Website of Long Branch, NJ - home". Retrieved 2021-01-29.
  9. "County Home Page". Retrieved 2021-01-29.
  10. Finley, Bill (2006-05-14). "Everyone's Mom (Published 2006)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-01-29.
  11. "Eatontown Borough". Retrieved 2021-01-29.
  12. admin (2010-07-27). "Discovering Librarianship: The Future is Overdue". About ALA. Retrieved 2021-01-29.
  13. "Tonya Badillo, BA '06". Retrieved 2021-01-29.
  14. "Homepage | School of Communication and Information | Rutgers University". Retrieved 2021-01-29.
  15. "Tonya Badillo new library director | The Link News". Retrieved 2021-01-29.
  16. "The Long Branch Free Public Library 'Back to Business for Small Businesses' | The Link News". Retrieved 2021-01-29.
  17. "Social workers find a new place to deploy their skills: The local library | Video". NJ Spotlight News. Retrieved 2021-01-29.
  18. "Fade to Books". Long Branch Free Public Library. Retrieved 2021-01-29.
  19. "Program History". New Jersey State Library. Retrieved 2021-01-29.
  20. "Public Policy | NJLA Members". Retrieved 2021-01-29.
  21. Media, Greater. "Library director participates in panel on racial equity – Central Jersey Archives". Retrieved 2021-01-29.

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