Spotlight Award: Georgina Tom

Georgina Tom, archivist at the 'Iolani School in Honolulu, Hawai‘i, is the 2022 recipient of the Spotlight Award from the Society of American Archivists (SAA). The award recognizes the contributions of individuals who work for the good of the profession and archival collections—work that does not typically receive public recognition.

Serving as archivist since 2014, Tom’s advocacy has transformed the Archives of 'Iolani School, a K–12 boarding and day school. Under her leadership, the archivist position increased to a full-time role. She implemented a content management system, established organization based on archival principles and standards, and expanded digital access to collections. Tom also advocated for the integration of archival materials into the school’s curriculum and now partners with faculty to provide classroom-based primary source instruction. Her nominator notes: “She sees the potential of memory and heritage collections as agents of social change by providing meaningful primary source experiences during the critical character and values building years of childhood.” Writing to 'Iolani faculty, Tom commented, “Primary source documents can be powerful partners as we educate young minds not to dismiss, minimize, or justify issues as being the way things are/were, but to identify and critique inequality and injustice.”   

Tom’s advocacy work extends beyond 'Iolani School and is making a difference within SAA and in the professional development of her archival colleagues in Hawai‘i. Due to their remote location, archivists in Hawai‘i are often challenged to find and afford professional development opportunities. Responding to this need, Tom became a SAA Digital Archives Specialist (DAS) instructor for course offerings in Hawai‘i. As a member of the SAA DAS Subcommittee, Tom successfully advocated for the removal of an in-person course requirement for DAS certification. The SAA Awards Committee was impressed by Tom’s dedication to both 'Iolani School and her colleagues in Hawai’i and other remote locations.

Established in 2015, past recipients of the Spotlight Award include Lee Price (fundraising professional for cultural institutions), Michelle Ganz (McDonough Innovation), Kelli Luchs (Las Vegas News Bureau), and Ilana Short (Nevada State Museum).