Sharmila Bhatia, Candidate for Treasurer

Sharmila Bhatia

Electronic Records Format Specialist
We have the ability and opportunity to explore new methods for membership engagement. If elected treasurer, I will strive for transparency, openness, and to engage members on matters concerning SAA’s finances.



Sharmila Bhatia joined the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in 2001 and is currently an electronic records format specialist. She researches and writes about digital formats and emerging technologies. She has written papers and given presentations on blockchain and artificial intelligence focusing on the implications for archives and records management. She has experience in working with electronic records in a variety of formats and of multi-stages in the archival lifecycle.

She has extensive experience in leadership positions and is currently serving as Vice President (2020–2021) of the SAA Foundation and has been serving on the Board since 2017. She is currently a member of the Program Committee for the 2021 Annual Meeting and served previously for the 2015 Annual Meeting in Cleveland. She has served twice on Host Committees for Washington, D.C., including co-chairing in 2010. She served on the steering committee for the Government Records Section (2006–2008). She has also been very active in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC) and has served as secretary, co-chaired program committees, and most recently held the development coordinator position (2016–2020). In addition to her activities for professional organizations, she is currently Executive Vice President for AFGE Council 260, the union that represents NARA employees. She was privileged to serve as the chief negotiator for the Collective Bargaining Agreement which was issued in 2019.

Prior to joining NARA, she was a reference archivist with the South Carolina Department of Archives and History. She has a master of arts in applied (public) history, and a master of library and information science from the University of South Carolina, and a bachelor of arts in history from the University of Maryland.



As an archivist in a predominantly white profession, I have always felt as a minority among minorities. There are very few Indian Americans, as well as Asian Americans, within the archival community. Ethnic identity is only one component of diversity, but it’s the one with which I have personal experience. I’ve noticed that very few Asian Americans have held leadership positions within SAA committees and sections as well as regional and state organizations. Being inclusive is encouraging, nominating, and electing minorities to serve in leadership positions.

However, we must first explore how we can increase diversity within our profession by encouraging high school and college students toward the archival profession as a career path.  A major barrier to diversity in the profession is a lack of representation of diverse communities within archival repositories. Most repositories have extensive holdings of white communities and organizations with racial/ethnic minorities and LGBTQ+ communities are all but invisible. Even if there are archival sources, they are often inaccessible due to poor descriptive practices in the past. In recent years, we have begun to discuss and take action to revise and update our appraisal or collecting practices, the language used to describe our holdings, and how we provide access. Yet without a diverse profession we have gaps in our knowledge and practice.

The most difficult barrier to diversifying the profession is for hiring managers to recognize their own biases when it comes to hiring and promoting non-white candidates. Often the “best candidate” is the applicant who most closely resembles the hiring panel. Instead of looking for the person who fits into the organization, we should be looking for people who are able to bring a different perspective or approach to the position. Often these differences will come from the person’s identity or background. SAA, as the professional organization that supports continuous education, should provide forums, workshops, and conference sessions that will provide tools for archival managers to support and implement DEI practices within their repositories.



One of the treasurer's responsibilities is to communicate financial information to the Council and to the membership through financial reports, financial statements, audit results, and presentations at various meetings. As treasurer, how would you communicate with current and prospective SAA members about SAA’s current financial situation and its outlook for the future?


SAA is a professional organization that provides networking with other archivists, continuous education through the Annual Meetings, workshops, and publications. The majority of activities are supported by members who are elected or appointed to serve on committees; however, it is also a business with a staff that manages these operations. Our dues, registration fees, and purchases fund operations and support the strategic goals of SAA.

In the past, SAA has followed the tradition of issuing budgets and financial reports through the annual business meeting and publishing the reports on the website. These are very formal and structured reports, as they should be, for the organization to document the finances, but not necessarily accessible to the larger membership. Last July, SAA held an online forum, “SAA Financial Outlook,” which was informative and engaged members. As treasurer I would advocate for holding such a forum at least yearly. The pandemic has changed how we work and interact as professionals. We had to pivot to online conferences, meetings, and forums. While we anticipate that in the future we will return to in-person conferences, I expect that we will be leveraging online platforms for more frequent short meetings such as committee business meetings and forums on targeted topics including SAA’s finances. This will allow the SAA treasurer to provide information on how our dues fund SAA’s operations and to obtain feedback, comments, or questions from members. In addition to holding a forum, I would explore whether issuing short articles on targeted topics concerning SAA’s finances would be useful to the membership. These articles might be included in In the Loop or Archival Outlook.

We have the ability and opportunity to explore new methods for membership engagement. If elected treasurer, I will strive for transparency, openness, and to engage members on matters concerning SAA’s finances.


Slate of Candidates

The Nominating Committee has slated the following SAA members as candidates for office in the 2021 election:

Vice President/President-Elect



Nominating Committee