Jessica C. Neal, Candidate for Nominating Committee

Jessica C. Neal

Archivist & Records Manager
I’m here to ask the tough questions, embed antiracism into our practices and DEI frameworks, and to positively disrupt and uncover new inclusive and equitable pathways forward in the archives profession.



I am a millennial archivist, records manager, and creative interested in building ethical, equitable, and post-custodial archives, oral history, and records management partnerships across industries. I received my BA in African World Studies (a nomenclature for Black Studies) from Dillard University and my MLIS in Archival Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Most recently I was the visiting archivist for the Sterling A. Brown papers at Williams College. Beginning in February 2022, I will start in my new role as community collections manager with the Center for Research Libraries.

My archival work and focus are on documentation efforts that center Black and other minority- led social movements, Black literary history and culture, art, and liberation throughout the diaspora. My work has a specific and intentional emphasis on the Black American experience. I seek and welcome opportunities that allow me to partner with communities of color to recover, document, and maintain autonomy over their narratives and how they are preserved and accessed, especially in digital environments. At present these collaborative opportunities manifest through my role as a workshop trainer with DocNow.

In the February 2021 issue of Archival Outlook, I co-authored the article "Assessing Power Dynamics in Multigenerational Archives," which sought to examine and create a cross-cultural dialogue related to power dynamics regarding age and experience in the archival workplace. At the 2021 SAA Annual Meeting, I presented on "Records Management in Higher Education: Examining Systemic Power Dynamics and Vital Records."

Currently, I serve on the leadership committee for the National Digital Stewardship Alliance (NDSA), where I am the chair of the Task Force on Membership Engagement and Recruitment and recently co-authored a report on NDSA's first member survey. I am also the chair of the 2022 DigiPres conference, and a Board Director for the Sexual Minorities Archives.



Each candidate prepared a diversity statement according to SAA guidelines.

As a Black queer woman in this profession, I know firsthand the importance of having new voices representing different professional experiences and varying skill sets. By centering DEIA in my work, I participate in creating equity in who gets historicized. When doing archival work, especially community archiving, I focus on the lived experience of communities and groups and the historical and social contexts of which I can learn from them. In this, I have learned that DEI initiatives alone are not enough. While they are certainly useful and necessary strategies and concepts, DEI work without an antiracist praxis fundamentally lacks any real opportunity for sustainable cultural change or understanding of racism and its role as a barrier to the archive’s profession.

My motivation for wanting to join the committee is to be able to help place well qualified but underseen candidates, especially those from historically underrepresented communities in leadership roles. My strategy is to continue to build on authentic relationships and create equity in who gets leadership opportunities. Further, I have a particular interest in expanding what diverse leadership looks like not only in archives roles but also in records and information management, and adjacent organizations and industries beyond the SAA. 

I would come into this role eager to learn more about a trauma-informed model. I am not a DEI professional, but I will push to incorporate real training & education of any praxis we use to inform our work in identifying leaders who can best champion inclusivity & equity. I certainly advocate for people and their experiences to be acknowledged and respected in any interaction and will think seriously about what that means as a member of the Nominating Committee. Most importantly, I’ve learned that when you create space for people to speak for themselves and have their own agency, then advocacy becomes something different. It becomes intentional, collaborative, and actionable.



The primary role of the Nominating Committee is to identify rising and experienced leaders from within SAA and the archival profession who can bring fresh and diverse perspectives to SAA leadership. Describe how you interpret this core responsibility and how you will work to identify candidates who demonstrate commitment to the SAA Strategic Plan and SAA’s robust commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA).


If the charge is to identify rising and experienced leaders from within SAA and the archival profession who can bring fresh and diverse perspective to SAA leadership, I can commit to this work. However, when identifying candidates, I will seek individuals who not only demonstrate a commitment to the DEIA ambitions of the Society, but who are able to imagine, plan, and act beyond the SAA Strategic Plan. I will take seriously the role of examining the skills and characteristics required of a leader, but also expand and disrupt historic notions of what being a leader in SAA means. Further, I will critically examine: how can SAA truly foster an open and inclusive culture of creativity, collaboration, and experimentation across the association, even when leaders seek to challenge and undermine the work (often of and by people of underrepresented groups or varying skill sets)?

I’m here to ask the tough questions, embed antiracism into our practices and DEI frameworks, and to positively disrupt and uncover new pathways forward in the archives profession. Bringing emerging leaders into the ranks who are committed to actionable and sustainable change is important to the future of the Society.



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