Jennifer Johnson, Candidate for Council

Jennifer Johnson

Corporate Archives Director
We are limited only by our desire to maintain the status quo. Our willingness to try new things and change comes from within, our imaginations, and our desire to improve.



Jennifer Johnson is the corporate archives director at Cargill, Incorporated, where she has worked since 2007. Her work engages employees through storytelling to share knowledge of Cargill’s heritage and culture. A University of Maryland graduate, with a master's of library science, she previously worked at the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of History and Heritage Resources, and the Minnesota State Archives.

Jennifer is a past president of the Twin Cities Archives Round Table (TCART). As leader of this organization, the membership doubled, and she supported the first Minnesota Archives Symposium, an annual free education opportunity. She served the Midwest Archives Conference (MAC) as a Council member, and as president lead development of MAC’s 2016-2020 strategic plan and guided the organization through an election issue. As a Society of American Archivists (SAA) member, she has participated in and held leadership positions on the following committees: Committee on Education (chair), Annual Meeting Task Force, 2014 Nominating Committee, Business Archives Section (education chair and section chair), 2019 Program Committee, and the A*Census II Working Group. Additionally, she has served as a panelist and moderator at annual meetings of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC), MAC, SAA, and the SAA Research Forum.

Jennifer has co-written articles on the effect of caregiving on the profession, and lessons learned about conducting quantitative research. The Journal of Western Archives article, “The Cost of Care and the Impact on the Archives Profession,” earned the 2019 MARAC Arline Custer Memorial Award. Additionally, she wrote a chapter, “Cultivating Success: The Business of Archives,” for the book Leading and Managing Archives and Manuscripts Programs, published by SAA in 2019.

Jennifer is the vice president of communications for the Associates of the James Ford Bell Library, a regular National History Day judge in Minnesota, and secretary for her daughter’s school's Parent Teacher Organization.



Each candidate prepared a diversity statement according to SAA guidelines.

When I joined SAA, I found the organization welcoming and encouraging, and I have always felt supported. Not everyone feels this way. I want to belong to an organization that treats everyone with respect, and is open to a plethora of ideas, perspectives, and thoughts. I want to belong to an organization that is inviting to everyone, recognizes everyone’s work, and allows people to be themselves. I want to belong to an organization that is less homogenous, where different experiences are represented, and where opportunities are equitable. I want everyone to have the level of support that I have had.

Embracing DEIA work is not easy, and not all of it is public. I have always been a reader, and to learn about different cultures and broaden my perspectives, I typically turn to a book first. Much of my work has been on myself. I have learned from mistakes I have made, from previous failures to offer support when needed, to ask questions, and to offer opportunities. And I have learned to embrace characteristics that come more naturally: to listen; to acknowledge, recognize, and promote the work of others; and to facilitate change and experimentation.

I am fortunate to work on a global team. We emphasize putting people first on a daily basis. We want everyone to be able to be themselves at work, which means leading with curiosity, being flexible, checking in about energy levels, and focusing on creating a safe environment. In the archives, I have revisited collection and photograph descriptions and identified where in the collection there is representation of employee stories. Personal stories are often the best way to communicate the values, strategies, and corporate changes for my institution. I have also reached out to our employee resource and affinity groups to see what archival services may be of interest to them. As part of a team researching how caregiving responsibilities affect archivists’ professional engagement, advancement, relocation, and institutional support, it is clear that all of these factors are affected by race, gender, age, and income.

As an SAA Council member, I plan to implement SAA’s strategic priorities for the benefit of all members, to serve as a conduit between the membership and the Council and executive team, to embrace member initiatives for the betterment of all of us, and to continue striving to make the Society of American Archivists better than it was yesterday.



The tragic and thought-provoking events of the past year and a half have indelibly impacted the world and our profession, and carved out a space for projects and initiatives that challenge and amplify the historical record, and foreground the urgency of equity and inclusion. How would you bring this growing investment in social justice to bear as a Council member and support diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility within SAA, the Council, and among the general membership? How would you help promote and implement the SAA Work Plan on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility?


I am looking forward to the results of A*CENSUS II, which should give us a better understanding of who we are, the makeup of our profession, our needs, opportunities, and challenges for our current environment. But the question remains, how do we create equitable opportunities for all SAA members and embrace a diverse membership?

As in the SAA Work Plan on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility, this starts with recruitment and retention. We need a variety of different tactics to help us diversify the archival workforce and our workplaces. These include tools that assist managers to advocate for salaries and positions, including converting precarious positions to full-time employment. We also need tips and actions for non-managers—those not responsible for hiring—to take on a daily basis that create inclusive environments, contributing to the retention of archivists in our institutions.

I support the inclusion of DEIA principles into SAA course planning and learning objectives, and the Archival Continuing Education Guidelines, as well as evaluating whether these principles should also be applied to the Guidelines for a Graduate Program in Archival Studies. Additionally, these principles should be considered by SAA’s Committee on Research, Data, and Assessment. Looking beyond large academic research institutions, archival practitioners need equal access to research data, training, and analytic software to contribute to and push forward archival study and knowledge.

SAA has greatly improved visibility of pathways to involvement and leadership, yet in this age of pandemic fatigue, anything the SAA Council can do to make things easier would be welcome. One area to streamline would be calls for nominations. Rather than three separate calls for committees and appointed groups, section leadership, and council and nominating committee, let us create one large candidate pool to help ease the challenge of creating slates of candidates. Competitive elections, even at the section level, keeps organization engagement vibrant.

The structure of SAA changes because we as members make it so. The Archival Workers Emergency Fund is a great example of an archivist-led initiative. Three years ago, conceiving of an all-virtual annual meeting would have been unheard of. We require salary information on SAA job postings, because the membership asked for it. We have also learned that we can embrace change in relatively short periods of time. Ten years ago, I participated in the Annual Meeting Task Force to improve our greatest revenue generator. Since that time, we have held the annual meeting in new cities and a conference center, embraced pop-up sessions, provided access to all session recordings for registrants, added the importance of fair labor practices to hotel RFPs, and outlined expectations for diversity on session panels. I would like to see the task force occur every ten years to bring forward new suggestions on how the Society can advance for its members. We are limited only by our desire to maintain the status quo. Our willingness to try new things and change comes from within, our imaginations, and our desire to improve.



Slate of Candidates

The Nominating Committee has slated the following SAA members as candidates for office in the 2022 election:

Vice President/President-Elect


Nominating Committee