Tanya Zanish-Belcher, Candidate for Council

Professional Experience:  Associate Professor and Head, Special Collections & University Archives, Iowa State University, 1998‒present. Curator, Archives of Women in Science and Engineering, Iowa State University, 1995‒present. Private Records Archivist, Alabama Department of Archives and History, 1989-1994.

Education: BA, History, Ohio Wesleyan University, 1983. MA, Historical and Archival Administration, Wright State University, 1990.

Awards:  Fellow, Society of American Archivists, 2011. Fellow, ISU Center for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities, 2009. Wright State University Department of History Outstanding Alumni Award, 2007.

Professional Activities:  Society of American Archivists:  Nominating Committee, Chair, 1999. Membership Committee, Chair, 2009-2010. Membership Committee, 2006‒2010. Reference, Access, and Outreach Steering Committee, 2010‒2012. Oral History Section, Chair, 2003‒2004. Science, Technology and Healthcare Roundtable Steering Committee, 1996‒2002. Women’s Collections Roundtable Co-chair, 1997‒1999. Committee on the Status of Women, 1995‒1998. Midwest Archives Conference:  Nominating Committee, Chair, 2011‒2012. President, 2009‒2011. Vice President, 2006‒2008. Council, 2002‒2005. Nominating Committee, 1998‒1999. Iowa Historical Records Advisory Board (IHRAB) member, 2003‒2013.

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Questions posed by the Nominating Committee: Taking into account SAA’s strategic priorities, in which specific initiatives would you take a leadership role? How would you go about implementing these given the competing priorities of the organization while remaining responsive to members and their needs?

As the role of the archivist becomes ever more important and visible, it is important that we think strategically about how the profession develops in the future. While the thought of a strategic plan may make us sigh, a proactive plan can be truly beneficial if we follow it consistently—particularly in times such as these, when resources are diminishing and demands on our time are growing. The SAA Strategic Plan focuses on technology, diversity and advocacy, and the organization has made progress in all 3 areas through educational opportunities for technology, further development of the Mosaic scholarship and other diversity efforts, and major advocacy initiatives. Of course, we certainly can and should do more, and I will work enthusiastically to advance these efforts in the upcoming year, on behalf of the SAA membership.

SAA Council will need to work on all these areas in the strategic plan over the coming years. We need to continually evaluate the use of technology as a tool for better communication and explore ways to better educate the profession about long term preservation issues. In the area of diversity, we need to advance our already existing diversity initiatives, and explore new networking and mentoring possibilities. We must examine our recruiting AND retention efforts to broaden the profession, and find creative ways to tap into the broad range of perspectives across the entire SAA membership. Finally, it is SAA’s responsibility to participate in educating the public about our work and its importance. We must continually remind audiences of the potential impact and value of archives for society.

I believe that we can work together to achieve many of the ambitious goals listed in the plan. This is easier said than done, and I cannot make any guarantees. However, I do think if we prioritize our efforts, we can make significant progress in each of these areas. At the same time, I am also committed to being responsive to members and their needs. The important issue here is not to necessarily agree on everything, but to communicate, consistently and with purpose. We must each feel that we have a voice in our professional organization, and I hope to serve as that voice in SAA’s decision-making process. Beyond that, if elected, I hope that any SAA members, who want to discuss any issue relating to the betterment of the profession, will feel comfortable about bringing any observation or problem to me. I will try to be as available as possible, and hope to have a major role not only in making SAA better, but our advancing our profession and consequently, improving the world as well.