2021 Elections


2021 Election: Candidate Statements

Thank you to all of our excellent candidates for standing in the 2021 International Archival Affairs Section election. Please take some time to review their candidate statements to make an informed choice.

You will be voting for:

  • One Vice Chair/Chair-Elect (or Co-chair), for a two-year term; and
  • One Steering Committee member (three-year terms). 

Ballots will be managed by SAA staff through Survey Monkey; keep an eye on your inbox for when the ballot opens! 

Vice Chair/Chair-Elect Candidates

The following candidates are running for the Vice Chair/Chair-Elect (or Co-chair) position:

James Lowry


 James Lowry is an Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Library and Information Studies at Queens College, City University of New York. He holds a PhD from University College London and he is an Honorary Research Fellow and former co-director of the Liverpool University Centre for Archive Studies in the United Kingdom. Prior to that, he was Deputy Director of the International Records Management Trust, leading records and archives projects across Europe, Africa and the Caribbean, including projects for international organizations such as the African Union and the International Criminal Court. He began his career in Australia, where he also obtained his MLIS.

His research is concerned with information and governance, particularly in colonial, post-colonial and diasporic contexts. His current projects include Displacements and Diasporas, exploring the technical and theoretical problems connected with disputes and claims over displaced archives. He is also collaborating with colleagues at the University of California, Los Angeles, on the Refugee Rights in Records project, which seeks solutions to the informational problems experienced across borders and by displaced people. His recent publications include Displaced Archives, an edited collection published by Routledge in 2017, and a new volume, Disputed Archival Heritage, is in preparation. James is convenor of Archival Discourses, the International Intellectual History of Archival Studies research network, outgoing Chair of the Association of Commonwealth Archivists and Records Managers, and a member of the Programme Commission of the International Council on Archives.

Statement of Interest:

After serving on the IAAS committee for the last year, I’d welcome the opportunity to contribute to the section by serving as junior co-Chair.

In my time with the committee I’ve programmed our Archival Landscapes virtual seminar series, which has included talks by archivists from Romania, Chile, Nigeria, and at our annual meeting this July, Thailand. I’d like to continue the series, which has been well attended by IAAS and SAA members, as well as colleagues from around the world. Creating opportunities to connect and learn from each other across borders should be an important priority for our section.

I bring with me experience of working in different national and international contexts and with international archival organizations and networks; I believe this experience has prepared me to continue to make an informed input to the IAAS’s work. I have good knowledge of some of the pressing issues in the international archival community today including copyright, personal data transfer, technical standardization, shared archival heritage, trafficking and restitution, and co-operation for disaster response.

A section such as IAAS needs to be responsive to the priorities of its members and the SAA and American archival profession more broadly, as well as to rapidly changing circumstances. I can see that there could be useful work for the IAAS to do in fostering international professional solidarity in the wake of the worldwide pandemic, particularly in regard to the economic impact on archival programs, job security, project funding and the changing informational needs of communities globally.

I believe that the IAAS plays an important part in the SAA, fostering an outward looking profession that contributes to and benefits from an international archival community. I would be glad to help take that work forward as junior co-Chair.

Steering Committee Member Candidates

Kate L. Blalack, MLIS, CA, DAS


Kate started her professional archival career in the Edmon Low Library at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma, as a Visiting Assistant Special Collections Librarian and also served as University Archivists and Assistant Records Manager. In 2013 she began as Archivist for the Woody Guthrie Archives at the Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She is currently serving a dual role as Senior Archivist and Registrar for the American Song Archives in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Statement of Interest:

Kate is interested in how creative expression builds bridges in human relationships on an international level. Music is a driving force in keeping world arts connected, and she hopes she can bring a diverse point of view to the IAAS Steering Committee. She also has a strong background in studio art, counseling, preservation, digital archives and librarianship. Kate's primary areas of focus and interests are social justice-activism, international relations, economics, folk-history, music and visual arts. She has been a member of the Society of American Archivists since 2008 and is newly elected as one of two secretaries for the International Council of Archives, Human Rights Section Executive Committee. During her time with SAA she has most recently served as Chair of the Independent Archivists Section for 2019-2020.

Ellen Engseth


Curator of the Immigration History Research Center Archives and Head of the Migration and Social Services Collections, Archives and Special Collections, University of Minnesota Libraries. I am active in SAA and other professional associations, and currently serve on the committee of International Council on Archives’ Section on University and Research Institution Archives (SUV). Previous positions in SAA include chairing the College & University Archives Section and the Hamer Kegan Award, and member of program and publications committees. My current interests include equity, diversity and inclusion; global competency; access to and engagement with historical records; digital humanities; and professional development. As adjunct with the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee's School of Information Studies, I occasionally teach a comparative study abroad course. I hold a Bachelor of Arts in History, a Master's degree in History, and a Master's degree in Library and Information Science (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee). Published articles include "Collaboration Across Borders, or Piiride-ülene Koostöö: Estonians and Americans Working Together Towards Accessible Archival Collections" and "Cultural Competency: A Framework for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in the Archival Profession in the United States."

Statement of Interest:

IAAS provides our members opportunity to connect professionally with the rest of the world, through discussion, advocacy, and building our knowledge of self and others. At this extraordinary time of a global pandemic and reckoning with racial and social justice, I am interested in connecting the section to current conversations in the U.S. and beyond. For example, I could bring my experience of initiating a successful video conferencing series in another section, discussing our collective work in the time of COVID-19, to IAAS.

Speaking more generally, I approach leadership opportunities in SAA as an opportunity to both serve my colleagues and to develop as a professional, and I am eager to move forward work with international perspective and projects. Thank you for your consideration!