Nominating Committee Procedures

 Also see: Calendar of Duties


About the Nominating Committee

Congratulations on your election to the SAA Nominating Committee! 

The Nominating Committee has two primary responsibilities:

  1. To select a slate of candidates to present for membership vote, and
  2. To prepare questions to which candidates respond in statements included in the election material.

The Nominating Committee is composed of five members who serve for one year. Three members are elected each year by the membership from a slate submitted by the outgoing Nominating Committee.  To complete the Committee, two second-year Council members are appointed to the Committee at the spring Council meeting. Because the Council members may be more experienced SAA members, they can often provide additional guidance.

From among the three elected members, the individual who receives the most votes serves as Committee Chair. The Chair’s primary role is to facilitate and coordinate the candidate solicitation process and ensure that the Committee meets deadlines. As part of her/his responsibilities, the Chair contacts the incoming Committee Chair (soon after that individual is elected) to pass along relevant information and suggestions on the process and responsibilities. The Chair also presents a brief report of election results at the SAA Annual Business (Membership) Meeting that follows the election cycle. 

Click here for additional information about the responsibilities of the Nominating Committee.

Key Documents

All Nominating Committee members should become familiar with the following key documents, which spell out the roles and responsibilities of the offices that are to be filled:

Gathering Names of Prospective Candidates

Suggestions for potential candidates come from many sources:

  • An open call for nominations is posted on the SAA website year-round and is updated annually. The call appears in a variety of communication outlets, including Archival Outlook, In The Loop, the SAA home page, and social media.
  • Each year’s election materials and ballot encourage voters to use an online form to suggest nominees for the next year’s slate. This information is collected electronically and forwarded by the staff to the Nominating Committee.
  • Suggestions may be passed along from the previous year’s Nominating Committee.
  • Committee members may also come up with additional names for consideration.

The Chair should:

  • Contact SAA staff to receive any responses to the call for nominations as well as information about slates from previous elections.
  • Contact the immediate past Chair to request relevant information, including suggestions from the previous year’s Committee about candidates to consider for the new slate.
  • Share with the Committee the lists of new nominations, suggestions from the previous Committee, and information about slates from previous elections, and encourage Committee members to think about additional names to propose to the group.  

Initial Vetting of Prospects

As stated in the Constitution, only full individual members and primary contacts of institutional members may hold office within SAA.

Among the critical factors that Committee members must consider is developing a diverse slate. Diversity is important at all levels. Race, ethnicity, gender, geographic location, archival setting, and archival expertise/specialty are factors that contribute to diversity. (See the SAA Statement on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.)

To ensure an informed decision about slating a candidate, Nominating Committee members should research prospective candidates’ backgrounds.  Vitas sometimes are available on the Web.  Information also is available in the biographical statements found in past election material, in conference programs, and in SAA publications (e.g., the “about the contributors” section of The American Archivist). If other information is needed, Committee members may ask archivists who know the potential candidate or they may choose to ask a potential candidate for a résumé or curriculum vitae.  Although the SAA Member Directory is a useful resource for verifying membership status, all candidates’ membership status should be double checked by the staff before the Committee proceeds because some members choose to opt out of inclusion in the online directory.  

Strategies for Filling the Slate 

The Committee should begin to solicit for the upper-level positions first because they can be the most challenging to fill. Prospects may not want to be President, but they might be interested in another position if they have not yet served in a governance position within SAA.

One method of developing the slate of candidates that many Committees have found effective is to first develop a pool of potential candidates. The candidate pool tactic has become increasingly popular with Nominating Committees because it provides a more efficient means to achieve goals of diversity and representativeness across the final ticket.

In this approach, the Committee:  

  • Develops a broad list of prospects for the offices based on nominations, suggestions from the previous year’s Committee, and their own personal knowledge.
  • Divides up the list and distributes to each Committee member the names of potential candidates to contact to determine their willingness to be considered for the slate. It is important to be very clear when communicating with potential candidates at this stage that the contact is informational in nature.
  • Updates the names in the prospective candidate pool based on individuals’ willingness to stand for office.
  • Takes into account the need for a diverse slate and develops the final list of prospective candidates.   

After the final list is developed, the Committee Chair contacts the prospects selected, formally invites them to stand for office, and receives their final confirmation to be slated. Once the full slate of candidates has been finalized, the Chair or assigned Committee members should contact those prospects who were not selected to let them know that they were not selected for the final slate and to thank them for their consideration. 

Talking with Prospective Candidates

Prospective candidates will have questions about the office for which they are being asked to run. The Nominating Committee must be prepared to answer these questions, which typically include the following: 

  1. What does the position entail? 
  2. How long do I serve? 
  3. How many meetings are there?  What is the time commitment?
  4. What kind of financial support does SAA provide?  
  5. I don’t have an accounting degree, so I can’t run for Treasurer, right?
  6. Who am I running against?

Responses to questions 1, 2, 3, and 4 can be found via the links provided in the “Key Documents” section above. The answer to question 5 is that prospective candidates for Treasurer do not need a degree in accounting; the Treasurer works closely with SAA’s Executive Director and Director of Finance/Administration. In addition, the Vice President/President-Elect and Council members work closely with the SAA Executive Director and the other SAA staff members.

The response to question 6 is more involved. First and foremost, CONFIDENTIALITY throughout the process is paramount. Names of nominees usually are kept confidential until all are selected. However, some individuals will not agree to run unless they know who else is on the slate. The Committee should be fair if it decides—as a group—to disclose this information. It is best to make this decision early in the Committee’s tenure. 

Discussions within the Committee also are confidential. All information that a Committee member may have about a prospective candidate’s background should be disclosed so that the Committee can make the best possible decision. Nominating Committee members should be able to discuss openly and honestly prospective candidates and their likely suitability for serving. 

Describe the benefits and demands when making solicitations. When speaking with prospective candidates, be persuasive and promote the intangibles of holding office in a professional association. Candidates should understand how their own workplace benefits from this experience because most of them will have to seek permission to run from their employers. Serving in an elected position can take up a great deal of time and requires some flexibility in the work schedule. An institution benefits from the prestige of the position its employee holds, the attention drawn to the affiliation, and the professional development the employee experiences through service. However, it is also important to be honest about the amount of work a position requires. Information about the responsibilities and time commitment can be found in the “Responsibilities of SAA Elected Positions and Guidelines for Selection of Candidates." In addition, encourage potential candidates to talk to current and past office holders to discuss the benefits and demands of the positions.  

Be very clear in solicitations. Prospective candidate solicitations, especially those that are conducted during the hurly-burly of the Annual Meeting, are susceptible to miscommunications. This is especially true when the person being solicited is actually being invited into a prospective candidate pool for a particular office, rather than being offered outright a spot on the slate. When employing this approach, the members being solicited should clearly understand that they are being invited into a larger pool from which the candidate slate ultimately will be formed. If that solicitation is made and accepted orally, it should be followed up with a written communication that clearly reemphasizes the nature of the offer.

Developing Questions for the Nominees

Another important part of the Nominating Committee’s work is developing questions for each nominee’s response in the “candidate’s statement.”  Developing these questions should begin early in the Committee’s process because the questions can actually serve as a guide or prompt in identifying prospective candidates.  Develop as many questions as possible—perhaps asking each Committee member to develop one for each office—so that the Committee can then select from a robust list.  You may wish to review the questions that were asked in previous years and refine them as needed.  (The slate and candidate questions typically have appeared in the January/February issue of Archival Outlook. Contact SAA’s Director of Publications for assistance.)  Rank the questions as a group and then determine which questions will be asked. Refine them as needed.  

 

A ROLLING CALENDAR 

April

  • After the ballot closes and results have been tabulated, the Executive Director notifies all candidates (via telephone) about the outcome of the election.  Of the three candidates elected to the Nominating Committee, the candidate who garners the most votes becomes Chair. 
  • The outgoing Chair contacts the incoming Chair to offer assistance and to pass on relevant information and suggestions on the process and responsibilities. 

May/June

  • Two second-year Council members are selected at the Council’s spring meeting to serve on the Nominating Committee. The Council meeting typically is held between mid-May and mid-June. This brings the total number of Nominating Committee members to five, which is the full complement. The Nominating Committee is now ready to begin its work.
  • The SAA office confirms which positions are to be filled (e.g., the Treasurer position is filled every third year). The office provides to the Chair a list of individuals who have stood for office and those who were elected to office in the last 10 years. This document is useful in identifying prospective candidates. The office also sends to the Chair any names (and background information) that were submitted via the online nomination form (for which the deadline for submission typically is June 15).
  • The Chair welcomes all Committee members using the Nominating Committee discussion list, sends them a copy of this procedures document, and reminds them of the general schedule for their work.  It may be useful at this point for the Chair to discuss how s/he envisions the Committee communicating and doing its work.  For example, the Chair may wish to establish a schedule for periodic conference calls and a protocol for online sharing of documents. 
  • The Chair contacts the immediate past Chair to discuss whom s/he thinks might be considered based on information gleaned during the course of the previous year’s investigation. The past Chair may also share any lessons learned about how to manage the work of the Committee.

June/July

  • The Chair compiles nominations submitted via the online nomination form (deadline is June 15), lists of those who previously stood for office but were not elected, and suggestions from the previous year’s Committee, and sends this compilation to the Nominating Committee members. 
  • The Nominating Committee members conduct research on prospects. This research may include looking for information about the prospects on the Web and talking with other archivists. The SAA staff can point Committee members to information available on the SAA website.  Bios found in the SAA Member Directory and related information from local and regional archival organizations also may be helpful.  The Committee also may choose to ask a potential candidate for a résumé or curriculum vitae.
  • The Nominating Committee drafts questions for nominees.
  • The Nominating Committee finalizes questions for nominees.
  • The Chair arranges with the Executive Director for time slots and meeting space during the SAA Annual Meeting.  The conference provides the best opportunity for face-to-face discussions and prospecting. The Committee may meet as often as needed during the conference.
  • The Executive Director makes arrangements for meeting space during the Annual Meeting.
  • The Nominating Committee may also consider drafting a list of prospective candidates (i.e., a candidate pool) and contacting them prior to the Annual Meeting to verify their willingness to serve. (See “Be very clear in solicitations” above.)  This step can maximize the efficiency of the process during the conference itself.

August

  • At the SAA Annual Meeting:  Nominating Committee members meet as a committee, finalize lists of prospects (note that many or even most of the nominees may not be derived from the compiled lists), and approach as many prospects as possible during the conference to discuss the various offices. When speaking with prospects, it is critical to make clear that the Committee is determining interest, but is not yet offering a definite slot on the ballot. Also, the Committee should set a deadline by which prospects must provide a final response for being included in the initial pool of candidates from which a final slate will be developed. Many prospects will need more time to decide, but it is wise not to leave this an open-ended process.  It is very important to be clear with potential candidates about the stage of the Committee’s deliberation. The Committee should meet periodically throughout the conference to discuss its progress.
  • It is rare for the Committee to finalize the slate at the conference; a follow-up effort typically is required. Patience is a virtue while prospects make their decisions. Remember to point them to additional information about the position, if they need it, and suggest that they talk to current or past office holders to gather information and perspectives. Be prepared to be rebuffed.  Many folks will say “No.”  Don’t take it personally!
  • After the conference, follow up with prospective candidates who have not yet given a definite response. Remind them of the deadline by which a decision is needed.
  • Once a prospect says “Yes” to being included in the initial pool of candidates from which a final slate will be developed, indicate that s/he will next hear from the Nominating Committee Chair or a Nominating Committee member about whether s/he has been included on the final slate.
  • NOTE:  The immediate past Chair, or another representative of the previous year's Nominating Committee, is required to provide a final report on the completed election at the Annual Business (Membership) Meeting that follows the election cycle.

September/October

  • Nominating Committee finalizes the slate. The Chair (or designated Committee member) contacts the nominees to invite them to run for office.  If a nominee declines the formal invitation, the Committee returns to the pool and selects another nominee.
  • By October 31:  The Chair sends to the Executive Director the final slate and the questions to which candidates are asked to respond for publication.
  • By October 31:  The Chair communicates (preferably by phone with an email follow-up) with all individuals who have been slated to thank them for agreeing to run and to let them know that the SAA office will be in touch with them shortly.  The Executive Director should be notified when this process is ongoing (by copying her/him on the messages) or complete (by, as above, sending the final slate). The slate should be shared with all candidates at this time.
  • By October 31:  The Chair (or designated Committee member) communicates with all of the individuals who were contacted during the Committee’s deliberations but were not slated to ensure that they are aware of that fact and to thank each for considering serving. (See “Be very clear in solicitations” above.)  Ideally this should be done by phone to ensure that the individual has received the information. This concludes the process.

November/December

  • The Executive Director shares the slate with the Council and staff.
  • The SAA office sends election materials via email to the candidates by the end of November. The due date for returning materials to the SAA office is the first week in January. Candidates supply a brief bio, a response to the question posed by the Nominating Committee, and a digital image for posting on the SAA website.
  • Information about the upcoming election—the slate of candidates, questions posed by the Nominating Committee, the voting period, and a link to the online nomination form for the next year—is posted on the SAA website.  Also included is information about how an eligible member of SAA may be placed on the ballot by submission of a petition signed by 50 individual members. (Such petitions must be received at the SAA office by February 10). Click here for an example of election content on the SAA website.
  • The slate of candidates, questions posed by the Nominating Committee, and the voting period is noted on the SAA website, which also includes information about how an eligible member of SAA may be placed on the ballot via petition. The slate is also published in Archival Outlook (either the November/December or January/February issue, depending on when the Nominating Committee submits the slate), in In the Loop, and via SAA’s social media channels.

January

  • First week of January: Candidates return election materials (bio, response to Nominating Committee questions, and digital image) via email to the SAA office.
  • SAA staff post the candidate statements and images to the SAA website. This material is reviewed and approved by candidates before it goes public. Once approved, additional announcements are made via various communication channels to alert the general membership about the availability of this information.

February

  • February 10:  Deadline for returning a petition.
  • Staff prepares online ballot.
  • All individual members, student members, and primary contacts of institutional members who are in good standing on February 28 are eligible to vote in the election. Members who join on or after March 1 will be eligible to vote in the next year’s election.

March

  • Voting is conducted online using a secure external software product (VoteNet). The ballot is open for one month, typically from mid-March to mid-April.

April

  • Once balloting closes, tabulations are done electronically and are verified by three member-volunteers who have been appointed to serve by the SAA President. The election results are shared with the Executive Director.
  • The Executive Director contacts all candidates who stood for office and apprises them of the election results.
  • The results are posted to the SAA website and announced via other SAA media after the Executive Director has made direct voice contact with all of the candidates. 

May

  • The election results are published in the May/June issue of Archival Outlook. 

August

  • The Chair presents a brief report of the election results at the SAA Annual Business Meeting. The report includes the names of the other Nominating Committee members and those of the newly elected leaders—Vice President/President-Elect, Treasurer (if appropriate), Council members, and Nominating Committee members.   

 

QUESTIONS?  Contact SAA Executive Director Nancy Beaumont or call 866-722-7858, ext. 212.