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Danna Bell-Russel, Candidate for Vice President / President-Elect

Professional Experience: Educational Outreach Specialist, Library of Congress, 2005‒present. Digital Reference Specialist, Library of Congress, 2001‒2005. Learning Center Specialist, Library of Congress, 1998‒2001. Curator, National Equal Justice Library, American University Washington College of Law, 1997‒1998. Archivist, Washingtoniana Division, District of Columbia Public Library, 1993‒1997. Reference Librarian and Coordinator of Library Instruction, Marymount University, 1990‒1993. Librarian and Archivist, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, 1989‒1990. Assistant Head, Special Collections and Archives, State University of New York at Stony Brook, 1988‒1989.

Education:  BS, Miami University, 1982. MS, Miami University, 1984. MLS, Long Island University, 1998.

Honors: Fellow, Society of American Archivists, 2008. Fellow, Library of Congress Leadership Development Program, 2010‒2011.

Professional Activities: Society of American Archivists: Council, 2001‒2004. Nominations and Elections Committee , 2003‒2004 and 1997‒1998. Co-chair, Program Committee, 2005‒2007. Program Committee 2005‒2006 and 2000‒2001. Associate Reviews Editor, American Archivist, 2010‒present. Instructor and Co-creator, “Real World Reference” Workshop, 2003‒present. Committee on Education and Professional Development: Intern, 1995‒1996; Member, 1996‒1999; Co-chair, 1999‒2001. Chair, Appointments Committee, 2007‒2008. Steering Committee Member, Reference, Access and Outreach Section, 2008‒2010. Steering Committee, Manuscripts Repositories Section, 1997‒1999.

MARAC: Chair, 2009‒2011. Chair, Nominations and Elections Committee, 2007‒2008. Co-Chair, Program Committee, 2007‒2008 and 2000‒2002. Chair, Distinguished Service Award Committee, 2011‒present. Member, Custer Award Committee, 2000‒2003. Co-Chair, Custer Award Committee , 2001‒2003. Member, Education Committee, 1995‒1999. Chair, Education Committee, 1997‒1999. Chair, Ad‒hoc Committee for Developing Continuing Education Opportunities, 2005‒2006. Member at Large, Steering Committee , 1997‒1999. Member, Program Committee, 1994.Member, Local Arrangements Committee, 1997‒1998 and 2003‒2004. Editor, State and Local News Column, Mid‒Atlantic Archivist, 1998‒2000.

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Question posed by Nominating Committee: Describe your vision for accomplishing the strategic goals of technology, diversity, and advocacy/public awareness as outlined in the Strategic Priority Outcomes and Activities document.

The first step to accomplishing the strategic goals of technology, diversity and advocacy is to make sure that the Society is on stable financial footing. Secure finances are critical to achieving our strategic goals.

In addition to insuring that the Society remains on stable financial footing, the SAA leadership must make sure that we have active and motivated members who are dedicated to helping the Society meet these goals. This includes actively seeking ways to involve members who do not attend the annual meeting. We know that some members may not be able to travel for meetings due to work and personal obligations, but we must find ways to allow all SAA members the opportunity to participate both in the annual meeting and in the Society as a whole. If this means making sure that all members can participate in conferences and other events from a distance using technologies such as live blogging, webcasts or podcasts SAA must do it.

Regarding technology, the announcement of the Digital Archives Specialist (DAS) program is an important step toward helping the members of our profession learn how to work with electronic resources. However, to be certain that this program meets the needs of our members and becomes an accepted part of the archival professional development curriculum, we must work to insure that the courses are of high quality. The instructors must be trained in effective ways to instruct adult learners as well as knowledgeable about the changing face of electronic records management. SAA’s leadership must work with the Education, Electronic Records and DAS Development committees to make sure the courses remain relevant, that additional qualified instructors are located and trained and that supervisors are aware of this training and encourage and support staff to participate.

In the area of diversity, though it is important for adults to become interested in preserving their materials and in donating collections to archives, it is vitally important to get children and young adults learning about the importance of historical materials, of preserving their own history and the history of their community. We as archivists need to work more with the K‒12 community. We can help teachers learn how incorporate archival materials into classroom activities and show that archival materials can be used to help students gain the knowledge they need to become excited about learning, succeed in the classroom, and understand their place in history.

We need to create materials to be used in career fairs and other events that describe what archivists do and make being an archivist an appealing career choice. When I made the career change to archives and librarianship many of the minority students I counseled as an academic and career counselor had no idea that they had career options beyond being a doctor, attorney, teacher, social worker or computer scientist. We need to show all students that protecting and preserving their history is a viable career option. This will encourage both the protection of the collections of under-represented groups and the diversification of the profession.

Advocacy, in the end, will also be most successful if there is a broad base of support among the public for archives. When we show students the importance of preserving their history, we are also helping to develop advocates for archives. When students begin to share what they have learned about the importance of archives with their parents, we can leverage their classroom instruction to gain more support for archival repositories. In addition, if we get students interested in archives early enough and maintain that interest, these students will become our future advocates and ensure the protection of the historical record.

In all three of our strategic goal areas we must work to collaborate with the state and regional archival associations and with allied professionals who can assist us in meeting these goals. It is wonderful that SAA has approached ALA and ACRL for information on how to upgrade the Mosaic Scholarship so it offers the same support as the ALA Spectrum Scholarship. This kind of collaboration must continue and expand. SAA must not be insular. We must be ready and willing to accept assistance from the best and the brightest regardless of their profession. In addition to gathering information from these individuals and organizations, we must provide them with information on the value of archives and the benefits of preserving the historic record. Through collaboration, we will develop more advocates who can provide information on the importance of the historic record and the need for archives and archivists.