Jill Severn, Candidate for Nominating Committee

Professional Experience: Head of Access and Outreach, 2001–present; Head of Processing 2000–2001, Assistant Processing Archivist, 1997–2000, Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia Libraries. Project Curator, 1992–1994, McKissick Museum, University of South Carolina.

Education: MA, History, University of Georgia, 1996. Graduate Certificate in Museum Management, University of South Carolina. BA, History, Mount Holyoke College, 1988

Professional Activities: Society of American Archivists: Member since 1999; Reference, Access, and Outreach Section, Steering Committee Member, 2009–2011, Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect, 2010–2011, Chair, 2011–2012; J. Franklin Jameson Archival Advocacy Award Subcommittee, 2012–2013; Congressional Papers Roundtable, Steering Committee Member, 2000–2002; Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect, 2009–2010, Chair, 2010-2011; Manuscript Repositories Section, Steering Committee Member, 2004–2006; SAA Mentor, 2003. Society of Georgia Archivists: Member since 1997; Program Committee, 2003, 2009; Membership Committee Co-chair, 2000–2001; Secretary, 2001–2002; Scholarship Committee, 2005; Vice President/ President-elect, 2006; President, 2007, Nominating Committee Chair, 2008. Academy of Certified Archivists: Member, 1999–present. Archives Leadership Institute, 2008. American Library Association: Member, Center for Civic Life Advisory Committee, 2011–present.

Select Publications: “Adventures in the Third Dimension: Re-envisioning the Place of Artifacts in Archives,” chapter in Congressional Papers Reader, Scarecrow Press, 2009; New Ways for Old Jugs: Tradition and Innovation at the Jugtown Pottery, co-editor, McKissick Museum, University of South Carolina Press, 1994.

Select Presentations: “Working Your Perfect Pitch Elevator from the Field," Session Presenter, Society of American Archivists Annual Meeting, 2013. "How to Get the Most Out of an SAA Meeting,” Presenter, New Member/First Timer Orientation, Society of American Archivists Annual Meeting, 2013. “Moderating Deliberative Dialogues,” Instructor, 1-day workshop, Association of Centers for the Study of Congress, May 2012. “Practical Approaches for the New Practitioner: Outreach,” Session Presenter, Society of Georgia Archivists Annual Meeting, 2012. “Reaching beyond Our Grasp: Taking Outreach from the Center to the Edge,” Session Presenter, Society of American Archivists Annual Meeting, 2007.




Question posed by Nominating Committee: Define your vision of diverse leadership for SAA and describe how you would select candidates to make this vision a reality.

A diverse leadership for SAA begins with a robust mixture of backgrounds/identities, talents, experiences, and perspectives that reflect the richness of difference within SAA and creates a unique crossroads for a wide range of ideas and approaches to coalesce. However, for this mixture to succeed in meeting SAA’s commitments to value and acknowledge the power of diversity, this leadership must also demonstrate an unflagging commitment to authentic deliberation of new ideas and perspectives emanating from of a wide range of sources, and a deep understanding of the issues and power dynamics that shape diversity matters in a large professional organization like SAA.

The Nominating Committee for the SAA has considerable success in identifying talented candidates with a wide range of experiences, backgrounds and perspectives for leadership positions. This knowledge and experience would inform my work on this committee. In addition to using formal and informal networks to identify potential candidates for a diverse leadership, I would propose making demonstrated engagement with diversity issues as a significant factor in selecting candidates to run for leadership positions. Demonstrated engagement might mean work on a specific initiative or policy, an article that treats the subject, or continuing education or training. To be able to lead an organization such as SAA with such a strong commitment to building a vibrant diverse community of professionals, this specific experience is essential.

The Nominating Committee for SAA plays a valuable role in enhancing the flow of information between candidates to membership. In addition to asking candidates to address experience with diversity explicitly in their candidate biographies, the nominating committee could develop questions for candidates that ask them to address diversity not just as a general ideal, but as a strategic goal with a specific set of opportunities and challenges. More specific questions often need longer formats to address effectively. With some planning and collaboration, the Nominating Committee could explore hosting an event online during election season to provide candidates an additional context to discuss their specific views and approaches for advancing diversity and other strategic priorities.