Michelle Ganz, Candidate for Council

Michelle Ganz

Archives Director
My motto has always been: no archive is complete unless all voices are heard. It is all about recognizing that not everyone moves through the world like I do and the right thing to do is to allow people to move through the world in a way that works for them.



I am a mid-career archivist who has been active in SAA since I was new to the field. In all those years I have worked tirelessly to help SAA become more diverse, supportive, and accessible. This progress has come through the hard work of a large group of dedicated people, many of whom have been heavily involved in SAA leadership. I was fortunate enough to be mentored by people who truly care about SAA. I would be honored to be able to provide that same sort of leadership and mentoring to my fellow SAA members.

In 2020 I received the SAA Spotlight Award and was the subject of a Council Resolution for the work of the Accessibility & Disability (A&D) Steering Committee. I have been involved in SAA leadership since 2009 when I chaired the Lone Arranger Roundtable. Since then I have been involved in the establishment of two new SAA Sections in 2018 and 2019. I also provided support for an additional section founded in 2013.

I have been a mentor for over twelve years and served on a number of task forces, steering committees, and appointed positions. I adhere to a primary goal of providing opportunities for my peers to contribute and lead. I have piloted a number of section-based programs including a webinar series and a leadership training model for the A&D Section.



What are your specific plans and strategies that will use the position you are applying for to advance DEI within your immediate SAA unit, SAA as a whole, and beyond the organization?

DEI can often be performative and efforts often start and end at the creation of a DEI committee that is widely publicized but creates no positive outcomes or deliverables. One of the things I’d like to do as a Council member is ensure that any conversations, forums, or educational sessions include implementable solutions to DEI problems. To move our conversations on DEI from theory into practice with the creation of new committees/task forces with representation from marginalized community section members. Each of these committees will be charged with creating one implementable solution specific to their area of expertise. These are not one-and-done committees, and the long-term plan is to create sustainable working groups to continue to create new tools for archivists to employ. These tools will make it easier to adopt good DEI practices for archivists and our patrons/researchers.

How have your own personal, academic, and professional experiences and expertise prepared you to advocate for inclusive, equitable practices?

As a disabled, mixed-race woman I have first-hand knowledge of how frustrating being different can be in our field. My entire career has been focused on making the archival profession and archival collections more diverse, inclusive, honest, and accessible. As a life-long advocate, I have no problem putting myself out there to promote a new idea/concept, but I recognize that not everyone feels comfortable being the voice of something new. It is incumbent on those of us who do speak up to reach out to our less vocal peers to get their perspective and insight. My motto has always been: "No archive is complete unless all voices are heard." For me, DEI is all about recognizing that not everyone moves through the world like I do and the right thing to do is to allow people to move through the world in a way that works for them. In my work, that means being honest in exhibition labels, policies and practices, finding aids, and other archival outreach (and inreach) tools. By acknowledging the mistakes of the past we can create an environment that allows everyone to thrive. It is important that SAA members are supported by the Council, and only right that the Council members promote efforts and ideas from sections to promote a free-flowing exchange of ideas and experiments.



SAA has the following core organizational values: 

  • Being committed to advancing the public standing of archivists;
  • Ensuring the diversity of its membership and leaders, the profession, and the archival record;
  • Fostering an open and inclusive culture of creativity, collaboration, and experimentation across the association;
  • Providing excellent member service; and
  • Ensuring transparency, accountability, integrity, professionalism, and social responsibility in conducting its activities.

Select two of the core organizational values and describe how you will work with SAA groups and members to move them forward.


Fostering an open and inclusive culture of creativity, collaboration, and experimentation across the association.

Inclusion comes from removing barriers to membership; we need to recognize that some people need more help than others. I want to look at current practices and see what changes need to be made to provide multiple pathways to SAA membership and participation. When people feel seen and supported, new ideas and methodologies flourish. As a Council member, I will be in the position to foster inclusive culture by being accessible to SAA members and supporting their efforts. My goal is to make the workings of the Council as transparent as possible, and by extension, model the kind of transparency we want to see in our sections. Transparency removes the perception of gatekeeping and fosters a culture of inclusivity. As a new member I was fortunate to have allies and advocates to help me become the archivist I am today and I want to pay that forward. Through visible action and an open culture of diversity it happens naturally. When marginalized voices see themselves represented in all levels of SAA, the profession, and the archival record they are more likely to participate themselves. SAA has always made room at the table for everyone, but we can do better.

Being committed to advancing the public standing of archivists.

No one has ever accused me of not being passionate about the archival profession. I want the public to be just as excited about archives as I am. I have developed a number of tools to spread awareness of the importance of archives and archivists. The events of the last year have shown the public how important archives and archivists are to preserving an authentic, accurate view of this pivotal time in history. I firmly believe that just about any moment is a teachable moment and I have made it part of my normal advocacy to help other archivists develop the skills and confidence to continue advancing the field. As a Council member I will be in a position to propose new programs to help archivists and potential archivists learn to advocate for the profession. One of the most important roles of an SAA leader is to provide mentorship and support to archivists in their professional endeavors and sharing their voice with the Council. Through open engagement every archivist can achieve as much, or as little, as they want to.


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