Dennis Meissner, SAA Vice President/President-Elect 2014-12-02 11:16:27
Where do you go to find a new SAA leader? How about a mirror? Like many professional associations, SAA runs as well as it does because of the energy, intelligence, and dedication of its many leaders. I’m not talking about the thin layer of elected folks like me, who are too few to manage more than a small fraction of the work that encompasses SAA. I’m talking instead about the very deep layer of appointed leaders who do the heavy lifting and creative thinking that drives SAA forward every day throughout the year. There are more than 250 of these appointed leaders altogether, and as many as one-third of these roles need to be filled with new appointees each year. SAA is a growing organization with more than 6,200 members. And those members are active and engaged—almost 30 percent attended the Joint Annual Meeting in DC, which is an outstanding rate of participation for any professional association. Couple that with the fact that SAA runs on a total paid staff of a dozen people. Our success as an organization—providing stellar member service, top-notch education and publications, and effective public engagement— depends overwhelmingly on those 250 appointed leaders. And to keep our association (and our profession) diverse, agile, strategically focused, and twenty-first-century–capable, that complement of leaders requires continual refreshing and repopulating. We are at the start of the next refresh cycle. Appointments Committee As SAA vice president, it’s my duty and privilege to make the appointments that will take effect in August 2015 and that will welcome a significant cohort of new leaders into service. I’m delighted to be sharing this challenging work with recent Council alum Terry Baxter of the Multnomah County (Oregon) Records Program, who has volunteered to head up the 2015 Appointments Committee. Baxter is joined in that work by committee members Daphne DeLeon from the Nevada State Library and Archives, Rebecca Goldman from LaSalle University, Melissa Gonzales from the Witte Museum, and Kate Theimer from ArchivesNext. Nancy Lenoil from the California State Archives, last year’s Appointments Committee chair, will serve as an ex officio member. The Appointments Process Here’s how the appointments process works: The Committee solicits volunteers from the membership via a web form (see www2.archivists.org/membership/volunteer). After the deadline for volunteers has passed, the committee takes nominations from current leaders of some appointed groups—boards, committees, and affiliated external groups—based on the volunteer pool. And then the Committee works its way through the entire list of vacancies And volunteers, giving careful attention to balancing the needs of each group. We’ll follow SAA’s longstanding policy to make appointments that reflect the diversity of our membership, from years in the profession to race, ethnicity and gender, repository type, and geographic location. I make all final decisions about appointments. In carrying out this painstaking work, we honestly strive to make the process transparent and open to all. To improve your chances of being appointed, don’t volunteer for every group (as some have done in the past); instead, focus on one or two groups and make a case for why serving on that group aligns with your background and/or passion. To ensure that as many people as possible can serve, we adhere to the rule that an individual may be elected or appointed to only one position at a time, and those appointed are not reappointed to a second term unless there is a critical requirement for particular expertise or to complete a body of work. Volunteer Positions So check out the list of appointments available. If you’re not familiar with the group or position, look at the SAA website to review the group’s description, see what recent work has been done, and even talk to people who are currently involved. (Group descriptions, microsites, and rosters can be viewed via the “Groups” tab on the main navigation bar at www.archivists.org.) Whether you’re into advocacy, standards, continuing education, publications, or even finance, there are many essential and exciting issues and opportunities that need the energy and attention of our members. Working on issues and topics together with your diverse and dispersed colleagues is an incredible opportunity to grow professionally and personally—an opportunity that has made all the difference to me in the evolution of my own career. You might notice that there are no vacancies listed for the Committee on Public Awareness (COPA) or for many of the Standards subcommittees. COPA is still a relatively new group (members were appointed five months ago), and terms of appointment extend for the next two or three years so that the group can gain some traction. Four of the Standards subcommittees, TS-EAC-CPF (maintains Encoded Archival Context—Corporate bodies, Persons, and Families), TS-EAD (maintains Encoded Archival Description), Schema Development Team (supports maintenance Of EAC-CPF and EAD), and TS-AFG (maintains Archival and Special Collections Facilities: Guidelines for Archivists, Librarians, Architects, and Engineers), are completing revisions and will have their group descriptions overhauled in early 2015. Watch the SAA website for a separate Call for Volunteers once new subcommittee descriptions are established. If there are more volunteers than positions available—which unfortunately is typically the case—there are other ways to be engaged: Volunteer for service in your favorite roundtable or section. The deadline for 2015 Annual Meeting session proposals has passed, but consider proposing a “pop-up” session (watch the SAA website for details). Or get started by attending a meeting of a committee or board, task force, working group, or the Council. All SAA group meetings are open to all members, and we’re always delighted to have visitors. I hope you’ll put your name forward as a volunteer, or encourage a talented colleague to do so—and I look forward to the possibility of working with you to serve SAA and our profession!
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