Michelle Light, Candidate for Vice President/President-Elect

Michelle Light

Director, Special Collections and Archives,
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

“I propose that SAA create a concise agenda to inspire collective action. With well-defined areas of focus, we can forge strategic partnerships within SAA and with external organizations to accomplish our goals.”    



  • Director, Special Collections and Archives, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 2013present.
  • Head of Special Collections, Archives, and Digital Scholarship, University of California, Irvine, 20082013, and Archivist, 20072008.
  • Head of Special Collections Technical Services, University of Washington, 20052007.
  • Assistant Archivist, Northeastern University, 20012004.
  • Archivist, Yale University, 19992001.


  • MS, Information (Archives and Records Management), University of Michigan, 1999.
  • MA, History, University of Michigan, 1997.
  • BA, History, University of Oregon, 1995.


  • Society of American Archivists: Task Force on Research/Data and Evaluation, Chair (2017present); Council member (20122015, 20162017); The American Archivist Editorial Board (20082012); Technical Subcommittee for Descriptive Standards (20072008); Description Section, Newsletter Editor (20052008); Program Committee, 2006 SAA Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C. (20052006); Host Committee, 2004 SAA Annual Meeting, Boston (20032004). 


  • Named Distinguished Fellow of the Society of American Archivists, 2014.
  • Contributing author to “From Responsible Custody to Responsible Stewardship,” Archival Values: A Festschrift in Honor of Mark Greene (SAA, Forthcoming).
  • “Controlling Goods or Promoting the Public Good: Choices for Special Collections in the Marketplace,” RBM (2015).
  • “Managing Risk with a Virtual Reading Room: Two Born-Digital Projects,” Reference and Access Innovative Practices for Archives and Special Collections (Rowman, 2014).
  • “Moving Beyond the Name: Defining Corporate Entities to Support Provenance-Based Access,” Journal of Archival Organization (2007).
  • Co-authored with Tom Hyry, “Colophons and Annotations: New Directions for the Finding Aid,” The American Archivist Vol. 65, no. 2 (2002).


  • “Digitization Matters,” Association of College and Research Libraries and SAA (2017).
  • “The Evolving Archival Record” Panel, SAA Annual Meeting (2015).
  • “The UC Guidelines for Processing Efficiently,” Society of California Archivists (2013).


Learn more about the Vice President/President-Elect candidates as they answer questions submitted by SAA members. 



At its November 2017 meeting, the SAA Council reviewed SAA’s strategic plan, looking ahead to 2018–2020. Please discuss what you see as the strengths of the current strategic plan, two or three ways in which you might modify it, and the rationale for your suggestions.


SAA’s current strategic plan focuses on impact in four areas: on the public, the profession, the individual archivist, and SAA itself. It emerged from a process that asked, “If SAA successfully carried out its mission, what are the ideal outcomes? How can we achieve these aspirations?” This plan successfully shepherded several new initiatives, such as creating the Committee on Public Awareness, establishing a new Arrangement and Description certificate, redefining SAA’s sections, and incorporating inclusiveness and cultural competency into SAA’s programming.

I’m proud of the Council’s work on the plan and my role in its creation, but looking ahead to 2020, I propose we explore ways SAA can activate and organize members to advance our profession. I’d ask: What are the roles for archives and archivists in a networked information environment, a pluralistic society, and a democratic culture? How can SAA catalyze the transformation of the profession so that archives and archivists remain essential and valued in our communities?

To inspire collective action, I propose that SAA create a concise agenda. There are several possibilities for themes, and I’m eager to hear others. Some examples include: a) developing a coordinated, profession-wide action plan to improve diversity within the archival record; b) enhancing members’ abilities to work sensitively with diverse groups; c) partnering with others to ensure the long-term accessibility of archival records from public or publicly-funded bodies; or d) developing partnerships and infrastructure to gather evidence for demonstrating the value and impact of archives. To create this agenda, we should gather input from all members about priority areas, and also engage leaders of component groups in charting cooperative efforts. 

With this agenda, we can then align activities across the organization to work more effectively toward common goals. We can tap into SAA’s infrastructure to bring people and groups together to focus on issues. SAA might incubate new projects or facilitate partnerships among SAA groups, individual researchers, archival repositories, and professional organizations. We might launch spin-off collaborations that are competitive for external funding to advance one or more core values. We might organize sections and committees to gather information or conduct research from their particular vantage points on a common theme. Then, through meetings, publishing venues, and emerging communication channels, we can encourage dialogue and energize projects across the organization. With well-defined areas of focus, we can forge strategic partnerships within SAA and with external organizations to accomplish our goals.    

Certainly, SAA must continue to advocate for the value and diversity of archives and archivists, support members’ professional development, and respond to member needs. SAA can also engage more members to contribute their efforts and expertise in solving common issues so that we might more proactively effect change and foster innovation that advances the profession.


Slate of Candidates

The Nominating Committee has slated the following SAA members as candidates for office in the 2018 election:

Vice President/President-Elect



Nominating Committee