from Lorelle .. she said that I should go for warm ...
Below are the words I was going to use to describe what would work, but I decided to just put up a VERY rough draft (had fun with colors and fonts - so those are not my recommendations, just going with the colors in the picture I grabbed off the net and the picture needs to be much better) of what I'm talking about.
You can go with double sidebars, but that is used to cram MORE information into your sidebars, not less. You need less. I'd choose one sidebar.
A friendlier look would be one of design. I'd break the "box" and get a picture of you without borders into the header. I'd get all the social links out of a box and into your overall design, walking the walk, not just talking the silly cluttery widget. I'd put you up front and personal, like you are talking right to the people and they are talking right back to you.
Basically, remove every border and box. Take all the lines away as those tend to be limits, and you work without limits. Put an energetic picture of you in the header where you are "coming out of the page" rather than in a picture box. You are a part of the page.
When people come to your site, it's not about what you do but who you are. You sell you. That's part of your strength. Make the site about Beth Kanter the expert. You know your stuff and you want people to know you stand not only behind but in front of your stuff. :D
Hopefully, your designer will understand what I just said. If not, SIGH. We'll talk again. :D
I looked at your redesign pic and you are already off on the wrong track. All those logos, get rid of them and make them links, or put them in the footer. They don't define you, you define them. Group all the social networking logos and icons together so they represent all your social media expertise and tool usage - showing you practice what you preach.
Move all honors, awards, and love me stuff onto your About page. All links to wikis, hire me, and stuff needs to go on your About and Contact pages.
Get rid of clutter like Archives - no one cares when you posted, just about WHAT you posted. The horrid list of categories is terrible and confusing. Useless. Streamline everything down into no more than 10, 5-7 is better, categories that group all the content together and turn those categories into tags. Remember, categories are your table of contents and tags are just index words.
Turn your blog into a friendly living room, a comfortable teaching studio, where the participants (students) can pay attention to the blackboard of your words and message and not be distracted with all the nonsense. Honestly, who really gives a rip if your site was nominated or awarded some gizmo made up award? Put it on your about page and get it out of your sidebar.
I know I'm being critical, but when you remove all the clutter, what remains is the brilliance that is Beth Kanter and her unique and powerful vision to change the world. Let that shine.
You set an example for many on how to change the world. Set another example with the look and feel of your main communications device.