Following a three-month search, the California Independent Booksellers Alliance has named Hannah Walcher its new executive director. Walcher succeeds coexecutive directors Kristin Rasmussen and Ann Seaton, who had led the organization since August 2021. CALIBA connects a culturally diverse and geographically varied community of more than 500 booksellers and other industry members across California.

Walcher comes to CALIBA from Books Inc.’s Reading Bridge, a 501c3 literary nonprofit and book fair program, where she was executive director. The Reading Bridge provides Bay Area schools with traditional book fairs and brings charitable fairs to federally funded Title 1 schools in underserved communities. Prior to her work with the Reading Bridge, Walcher was Books Inc.’s children’s events coordinator and book fair manager, in addition to working as a frontline bookseller.

CALIBA has been seeking an executive director since announcing, in November, that Rasmussen and Seaton would step down from their joint roles. Rasmussen left the organization in December to become Scholastic Inc.’s district sales manager, replacing retired sales rep Roz Hilden. Seaton, who had planned to step down from CALIBA leadership at the end of 2023, has stayed on as interim executive director to facilitate the transition. CALIBA’s board of directors worked with a search committee to identify and hire the new ED.

Melinda Powers, CALIBA board president and head buyer at Bookshop Santa Cruz, announced Walcher’s appointment. In a February 22 statement, Powers wrote: “California independent booksellers are as myriad and wonderful as our bookshelves—full of tastemakers, innovators, and economic engines, local gems and cultural touchstones—and Hannah has the experience, vision, and enthusiasm to bring us together, strengthen our community, increase our impact on the industry and our state, and lead us in a time that needs books and our bookstores more than ever.”

Starting in March, Walcher will divide her time between CALIBA and Books Inc.’s Reading Bridge. She’ll begin her full-time executive director role at CALIBA in June. In the press announcement, Walcher thanked Books Inc., calling it her “home away from home,” and anticipated “promoting the vitality, diversity, and prosperity of independent bookselling throughout California. I look forward to getting on the road and meeting as many of our members as possible.”