(Kansas City, Missouri) - Cheptoo Kositany-Buckner, the Kansas City Public Library's deputy director of strategic initiatives and a leader in digital inclusion and other community initiatives, has been honored by the Kansas City branch of the NAACP as the 2015 recipient of its Lucile H. Bluford Special Achievement Award.
Kositany-Buckner was recognized during the branch's annual Freedom Fund Luncheon at the West Crown Center on Saturday, October 31, 2015. The Bluford award commemorates the pioneering Kansas City civil rights leader and former editor of The Kansas City Call.
"To be recognized by the NCAAP is momentous, very affirming, and it is one of the greatest moments of my career and life in Kansas City," says Kositany-Buckner, whose career at the Library spans 25 years. "I am also very honored and humbled to receive an award that bears the name of Lucile H. Bluford, a formidable, brave, and bold woman who never gave up. This award touches me very deeply, and I wish I could share it with my late mother and father."
A native of Kenya, she has been a deputy director of the Library for the past 10 years and assumed oversight of strategic initiatives in early 2015, reflecting the growing importance of digital programs and partnerships. Among other ventures, Kositany-Buckner is spearheading the Library's ongoing involvement in a community-wide effort to bridge the digital divide in Kansas City by expanding underserved residents' access to computer and Internet access.
She focused on the issue in accepting the Bluford Award.
"As education, jobs, and the economy become digital, African Americans without Internet and digital skills are left behind," she said. "While students face homework gaps, adults seeking employment face major challenges in getting jobs and building wealth. Increasingly, more organizations require some level of technology skills and it will be very difficult to earn a living if you are lacking in this area.
"I welcome the opportunity to engage with the NAACP and the community as a whole to talk about this important matter and find solutions to resolve it."
Kositany-Buckner is both a member of the Kansas City Digital Inclusion Coalition and member of the founding council of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance. The latter is working at the national level to impact Federal Communications Commission policies on digital inclusion.
Kositany-Buckner gave a recent presentation at the 2015 international conference of the Partnership for Progress on the Digital Divide in Scottsdale, Arizona
During her quarter-century tenure at the Library, she also has supervised the design and renovation of several facilities - including the L.H. Bluford Branch - and overseen the development and launch of the award-winning Civil War on the Western Border website. She has been instrumental, too, in the revitalization of the Black Archives of Mid-America, overseeing the first permanent exhibit in the Kansas City area on the history of African Americans in the city and currently serving as vice chair of the organization's board of directors.
Kositany-Buckner is a past president of the Mid-American Library Alliance council, serves on the boards of the Kansas City Public School Retirement System and the KC STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Alliance, and is a member of the Chancellor's African American Leaders Council at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the executive committee of American Public Square.
Born and raised in a family of 11 children in the ranch town of Eldoret in western Kenya, she completed high school there and followed two brothers to the United States and Central Missouri State University (now the University of Central Missouri) in 1983. Kositany-Buckner speaks multiple languages including her native Nandi, Swahili, and English.