My choices for future SAA leadership

On March 11 the virtual polls open for the Society of American Archivists’ annual election. After reading the 30 pages of information provided about the candidates, I’ve made my choices and decided who to endorse here on the blog.

For Vice President/President Elect-: Helen Tibbo
For Treasurer: Aimee Felker
For Council (Two-year Term): Brenda Lawson
For Council (Three-year Term): Scott Cline
For Nominating Committee: Terry Baxter, John LeGloahec, and Dan Santamaria

As always, an endorsement of any candidate is not intended as a criticism of his or her opponents. Everyone who volunteers to serve the profession in an elected capacity deserves our thanks and appreciation. I try to base the blog’s endorsements strictly on the information provided by SAA about the candidates (with a few exceptions, which are noted). I provide my analysis and endorsements to my readers as a service for those who are on the fence and can’t decide or who just don’t have the time to scrutinize the candidate information the way I do. I hope some people find it useful.

Below the jump, I’ll provide background for my choices. But, please, readers, don’t forget to vote! It’s even easier this year—the first that SAA has gone electronic. And I hope you’ll agree with my choices and help give these candidates the ArchivesNext bump. (I aim to become the Stephen Colbert of the archives world!)

Why Helen Tibbo for Vice-President/President-Elect?

Any regular follower of this blog who reads the two candidates’ statements should quickly see why I’m endorsing Helen. She emphasizes effective use of education about technology, and also stresses the need for SAA leadership to engage more actively with the membership. However, she hit it out of the park when she wrote:

In our increasingly media-bombarded world, SAA must redouble its effort to raise public awareness regarding the profession and its essential roles in our society and world. Archivists, led by SAA, must embrace the amazing communication tools now available for rapid deployment of a unified message and vision. Rather than posters, flyers and mailings, we need YouTube videos, an SAA Facebook page, and links on repository websites. The SAA website should become the focal point of an extensive online archival social network that would facilitate communication in the profession and help users and other stakeholders understand the power and importance of the archival profession. This will require a radical rethinking of SAA’s role and its responsibility in representing the profession.

If Helen wins, I think we have a good chance of seeing SAA have the kind of web presence and general embrace of the use of technology to achieve SAA’s goals that many of us have been wanting for some time.

Why Aimee Felker for Treasurer?

Although I know and like Aimee, my endorsement for her is based strictly on her qualifications and her statement. Aimee has a wide and impressive variety of professional experience and has served as Treasurer for another professional organization. Aimee also provided several concrete, pragmatic, well-thought out answers to the question posed by the Nominating Committee—”What actions should SAA’s Treasurer take to ensure the Society remains fiscally strong and solvent while pursuing its strategic priorities and responding to opportunities and proposals?” I think Aimee’s statement shows that she will be a strong proponent for increasing the efficiency of SAA’s processes (particularly by increasing the effective use of technology) and for partnering with other like-minded organizations to achieve SAA’s advocacy goals.

Why Brenda Lawson for Council (Two-year term)?

I almost decided not to endorse one of the candidates over the other in this race. I do not know either candidate, and their professional backgrounds appear equally strong. However in her statement, Brenda demonstrated an appreciation of what are (in my opinion) some key realities regarding technology, such as:

– that SAA’s members have “a wide range of experience and resources” and that SAA must take advantage of the expertise and resources of members on one end of the spectrum while providing assistance and education for those members on the other end, and that
– “Leadership in the area of electronic records, for example, not only fulfills our professional mission to keep and maintain records in all formats, it also gains recognition for the importance of archivist and archival records in a wider arena.”

Why Scott Cline for Council (Three-year term)?

I do not know any of the six candidates running for these three positions well, and I know only two of them at all. Therefore, my evaluation of these candidates was based entirely on their statements. This evaluation was made more difficult by the question presented to the candidates to answer, which I thought did not allow them to demonstrate much creativity, vision, or individuality (“What factors should a council member consider when evaluating specific proposals that aim to put the Society’s strategic priorities into action?”). Given this constraint, I was particularly impressed by Scott Cline’s response. He was the only candidate (I think) who brought up the need for measurable outcomes in assessing proposals to Council. He also raised a set of issues that was music to my ears (and I hope yours too):

SAA’s national leadership role on records and information issues leads to the following questions: Does the proposal have universal applicability within the profession? What is the breadth of its impact? Will the proposal make SAA more credible on the national stage? Will it enhance and/or maximize SAA’s influence? Is the proposal in an area where SAA can uniquely effect change that is consistent with its beliefs and values?

This is the kind of thinking I want from my Council members.

After much consideration, I decided not to select two out of the other five candidates to endorse. Their statements and background are all equally strong. I am sure whoever wins the other two slots will be fine members of Council. (Although I think my second vote is going to go to Jac Treanor.)

Why Terry Baxter, John LeGloahec, and Dan Santamaria for Nominating Committee?

Unlike the other races in this election, I know almost all of the people running for Nominating Committee somewhat. I cannot be unbiased in my endorsements for these positions. Terry Baxter and John LeGloahec are good friends of mine. If you read this blog at all regularly, you know Terry (who also blogs at Beaver Archivist). If you read the Brave Astronaut blog, you know John. You should vote for them.

I went to graduate school with Dan Santamaria. Based on what I know, he would be a great addition to the Nominating Committee. But if you want more proof that Terry, John, and Dan are the best people for these jobs, go and read their statements. I wouldn’t endorse them, even though they are my friends, if I didn’t think they had also provided compelling evidence of their strengths.

I should say that I also know both Claude Zachary and Amy Cooper Cary a bit—and I’m sure they would be great also. Amy has been a guest blogger here on ArchivesNext and Claude is graciously serving on the jury for the Best Archives on the Web Awards. (Again, I have nothing bad to say about Carol Bartels—she just happens to be the one person on this list that I don’t know.)

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2 Responses to My choices for future SAA leadership

  1. Lynne Thomas says:

    ALA has finally moved towards electronic elections, too. Us RBMSers will be keeping an eye on how well the new & improved tech-savvy SAA goes.

    Also? I often joke about my archived authors getting an “NIU Bump”–several have won major awards (Hugo, Nebula) after archiving with me. :-)

  2. Amy says:

    Thank you for your openness in sharing your picks, Kate. I see we agree on a few. :) I am undecided on a few of the spots and your thoughts certainly give me more to think about when I do finally read the bios and candidate statements from SAA.

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