Dennis Meissner 2016-03-14 00:37:04
Building an Inclusive Profession Greetings, colleagues and friends. Lately I’ve been spending time poring over SAA’s strategic plan to ensure that we are delivering on the many action items that stem from it. As part of that exercise, I’ve been thinking about the core organizational values—the essential soil out of which the strategic plan grows. Those values hold all of us, members and Council alike, to pursue several enduring goals: • To advance the public standing of archivists; • To ensure the diversity of its membership and leaders, the profession, and the archival record; • To foster a culture of creativity and experimentation across the association; • To provide an open, inclusive, and collaborative environment; • To provide excellent member service; • To practice social responsibility and pursue the public good; • To demonstrate transparency, accountability, integrity, and professionalism in conducting its activities. We do our best to address all of these values in each annual work cycle. But at any particular time, one may rise to assume greater importance. During the past two years we have focused on advocacy and have taken important steps to strengthen our ability to advocate and make a public case for the value of archives. This work will keep going forward. Now it’s time to raise up another value: to pursue diversity and inclusiveness, within our association, our profession, our collections, and our public engagement as practicing archivists. The Council has been in focused conversation on this priority and on the best steps forward to gain some real traction. We remain too white, too traditional, perhaps too blind to the varieties of diversity that surround us. How do we pursue this need with enough energy to move the needle meaningfully? We have groups in place that continue to help us—the Diversity Committee, several roundtables and working groups—but we need to embed this work throughout SAA and not leave it to the responsibility of a few appointed groups. As a first step, the Council has been pursuing training in cultural competency. We have participated in training sessions and will be providing training for members. We are making a concerted effort, in the 2016–2017 appointments cycle, to place young archivists of color in intern positions on SAA boards and committees. We are continuing the diversity forum at ARCHIVESRECORDS 2016* and adding at least one other opportunity for an open discussion on inclusiveness. And we are planning to build a strong diversity and inclusion track into the 2017 Annual Meeting. The SAA Council will keep the conversation going at our spring meeting. But I want to ask all of you: What else should we be doing to pursue this goal as effectively as we can? I would truly appreciate hearing your ideas. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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