Ricardo L. Punzalan, Candidate for Vice President/President-Elect

Ricardo L. Punzalan

Associate Professor
SAA is nothing without its membership and as long as there are individuals or groups who are systematically excluded (intentionally or otherwise), we must continue to work toward greater inclusion in our organization, the profession, and the communities we serve.



I grew up in the Philippines and became an American citizen in 2019. I am currently an associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Information, where I advise the SAA Student Chapter and co-lead a project developing decolonial practices for the University’s Philippine collections acquired during US colonialism. I have written about virtual reunification and digital repatriation of archives, ethical provision of and impact of access to Indigenous archives, and critical archival studies in American Archivist, Archivaria, Archival Science, and Library Quarterly. I earned undergraduate and master’s degrees in library and information science from the University of the Philippines Diliman. I previously taught at the University of the Philippines School of Library and Information Studies (2000-2006) and the University of Maryland College of Information Studies (2013-2019). In 2005, I was a founding archivist for the Culion Leprosy Museum and Archives in the Philippines.

My involvement in SAA began in 2007 as a graduate student; since then I have been active in the Society in various ways. From 2013 to 2016, I was Education Committee chair of the Visual Materials Section. I served in various elected positions in the Native American Archives Section (NAAS): Steering Committee member (2015 to 2016), vice chair/chair-elect (2016 to 2017), and chair (2017 to 2018). Through NAAS, I advocated for the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials, which the SAA Council endorsed in 2018. Most recently, from 2018 to 2021, I was a member of the SAA Council. Among my accomplishments on Council include proposing a set of guidelines for requiring a diversity statement for key positions within SAA; facilitating a series of dialogues on Black Lives and Archives; supporting the salary transparency requirement for job postings; and serving on the subcommittee that initially drafted the SAA Work Plan on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA).



Each candidate prepared a diversity statement according to SAA guidelines.

I am a gay, cisgender male immigrant from the Philippines, and one of a handful of tenured professors of color in archives in North America. These perspectives, and more, form the intersecting layers of my identity. Living in this moment of rising resentment toward immigrants, persistent anti-Black violence, and ever growing anti-Asian hate, it is important for me to express my commitment to diversity and to align with institutions that share my values by actively supporting equity and inclusivity.

In my academic and professional career, I remain cognizant of my privileged position as a tenured professor. I continuously work to use my influence to elevate and advance the causes of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in my workplace and in SAA. My record of service on the SAA Council demonstrates my uncompromising support for DEIA initiatives. In my work as an archivist and an educator, I have mentored students from minoritized communities, centered my scholarship in critical archival studies, and applied decolonial lenses in archival practice.

Mindful of the fact that the United States is a settler colonial country and that archival repositories often reflect and reproduce colonial histories and memories, I advocated for the endorsement and adoption of the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials as a professional standard. I am currently working to decolonize Philippine collections held at US institutions (starting with Michigan collections) and to address harms created by the conditions of these collections’ creation during US imperialism. I endeavor to develop frameworks for reparative description of these collections that are responsive to community values and ethically represented.

I understand diversity as the presence and active participation of historically marginalized and traditionally underrepresented communities in institutions and society. However, diversity without the guarantee of equity, inclusion, and accessibility is meaningless. Diversity will not lead to social change if the barriers that prevent the meaningful participation of some groups are not removed. Thus, I am committed to actively create conditions for equal access to opportunities and resources, to embrace differences, and to respect all people. If elected, I would support initiatives to increase membership participation through dialogue that leads to action, mentorship that amplifies marginalized voices, and allocation of resources that advance the SAA Work Plan on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility.



The SAA Council recently approved the SAA Work Plan on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility, with the goal of incorporating DEIA and cultural competency into all aspects of SAA’s work, taking into account the SAA Strategic Plan (2020–2022) and informed by existing goals and strategies developed by component groups. Please identify one of the four areas in the work plan that you see as a priority and discuss how you would implement that area and align it with SAA’s Strategic Plan.


Among the highlights of my term on Council was my early involvement in the drafting of the SAA Work Plan on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA). I am happy to see it developing into a fully actionable plan. I support all of the plan’s strategic goals because I believe that they are interrelated, and without each one we cannot fully implement our DEIA priorities. But if I were to prioritize one goal, it would be dismantling the structural barriers to leadership and participation in SAA (DEIA Goal #2). These barriers include high cost of participation, limited mentorship opportunities for leadership and professional growth, inaccessible resources and programming, and underrepresentation of community-based, grassroots, and Tribal archives.

SAA is nothing without its membership and as long as there are individuals or groups who are systematically excluded (intentionally or otherwise), we must continue to work toward greater inclusion in our organization, the profession, and the communities we serve. We cannot diversify SAA if minoritized communities are disproportionately burdened by our institutional structures and membership dues. Thus, we must systematically examine the cost of membership and participation in SAA and its activities as well as identifying additional, sustainable resources. The old economic model of relying on membership dues and conference fees to sustain SAA is no longer feasible in the context of contingent labor, salary compression, and the devaluation of archival expertise. I am committed to identifying additional ways to financially support SAA, its mission, and its DEIA work plan.

Our future depends on diversifying the field. We cannot diversify our organization if we do not invest our resources in mentoring diverse talent, which includes emerging archival thought leaders. I would propose more mechanisms to foster diverse leadership in its various manifestations: from running for positions to bringing the best and the brightest ideas in our meetings and publications. In terms of access, we must meet our membership wherever they are, so I will prioritize working with regional organizations to stay connected with our peers. Furthermore, SAA’s website should be evaluated for accessibility. Nothing says “you are not welcome here” than an inaccessible online presence.

The archival landscape is much wider than the mainstream institutions that are overwhelmingly represented in our organization. Let us invest more efforts in reaching out to grassroots, Tribal, community-based archives and invite community archivists to the organization. As vice president/president-elect, I would move SAA toward building authentic partnerships with community-based archives for SAA to be a welcoming space and an advocate for grassroots efforts.

I am committed to addressing the structural barriers that limit participation, impede accessibility, discourage diversity, and undermine racial equity in SAA. These actions can only be achieved by working closely with the SAA Council, relevant component groups, and SAA staff. Dismantling structural barriers further supports the four goals of the SAA Strategic Plan: Advocating for Archives and Archivists, Enhancing Professional Growth, Advancing the Field, and Meeting Members’ Needs. The continuing relevance of SAA depends on us dismantling the many barriers to entry, growth, and leadership.



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