SAA OHS Steering Committee Nominations: Meet the Candidates 2023

SAA OHS Steering Committee Nominations: Meet the Candidates 2023

It is that time of the year again, SAA election season! Thank you to all of our excellent candidates for standing in the 2023 Oral History Section election. Please take some time to review their candidate statements and get to know them so you can make an informed choice.


This year our membership will be voting for: One Vice Chair/Chair-Elect; for a three year term; Two Steering Committee members; for two year terms.

Ballots will be managed by SAA staff; keep an eye on your inbox for when the ballot opens later this summer!

Vice Chair/Chair-Elect Candidates

The following candidate is running for Oral History Section Vice Chair/Chair-Elect:

Cyrana Dowell

Dr. Cyrana Dowell is the Research Services Archivist for the Environmental Design Archives (EDA), University of California, Berkeley. She has a Ph.D. in Public History from Middle Tennessee State University. Prior to joining the EDA, she served as full time teaching faculty for the Department of History at MTSU. While there, she participated in a campus wide program committed to high-impact pedagogy for integrative learning. She was affiliated faculty for the Women’s and Gender Studies program, and in 2023 was honored with the department’s annual Creating Global Change Award. She received her MLIS (2011) and MA (2009) in Women’s and Gender Studies from the University of South Florida, where she worked for both the Oral History Center and the Special and Digital Collections department at the USF library. 


She was introduced to oral history as a graduate student assistant for the University of South Florida Tampa Campus Library, where she worked as a transcriptionist and audit-editor on many oral history projects. As a doctoral candidate at MTSU, she took coursework in oral history theory and methodology. She co-narrated and transcribed an oral history for the African American Oral History Project under the direction of Dr. Martha Norkunas. She also conducted the Tampa LGBTQ Oral HistoryProject. The project was a collaboration among narrators, the MTSU Department of History, USF libraries, and herself. She worked collaboratively with library administration at the University of South Florida to secure a repository, to ensure timely transcription and to guarantee public access to the interviews. She currently co-creates oral histories in her genealogical and historical research. Additionally, the Environmental Design Archives is interested in expanding their collections to include oral histories, with particular interest in representing narratives and experiences of those underrepresented in the design records. In addition to SAA, she is currently a member of the National Council on Public History as well as the Society of California Archivists. She is interested in serving on the SAA Oral History Steering Committee as the vice chair/chair-elect to engage with other archivists on best practices for collecting, preserving, and providing access to oral histories. 


Steering Committee Member Candidates

The following candidates are running for the Oral History Section Steering Committee:

Anu Kasarabada

Anu Kasarabada is the archivist and oral historian for the John G. Heyburn II Initiative, a joint project between the University of Kentucky Libraries and the Rosenberg College of Law to document the role of the federal courts in American, particularly Kentuckian, history. In this position, she conducts oral histories with and collects the papers of federal judges, court staff, prosecutors, public defenders, and others who shape the federal courts. With the support of the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, she plans the overall direction of the Heyburn Initiative’s oral history project, and she researches and conducts the interviews themselves. She is also working on incorporating the interviews into classroom instruction, which is a major priority. She wants to learn from colleagues about their experiences with instructional use of oral histories, and also to share her own as she moves forward in this process. 


 Ultimately, that describes how she hopes to engage with section members, should she be elected to the steering committee: She wants to both contribute to and learn from the conversations taking place among people working with oral history collections. To her, this goal means reaching out to the membership to understand their needs and wants and then carrying out programming and other initiatives that address those needs and wants. She hopes to be a useful member of the steering committee, someone who contributes to the section’s growth as a professional community. Thank you for considering her nomination.

Melissa Kemp

Melissa Kemp is a Spring 2023 graduate of the Masters in Archives and Records Administration program at San Jose State University. She is the owner of KPW-AMC, Inc. which conducts archives, records management, and professional and grant-writing for nonprofit organizations and individuals. She has worked as a contract archivist for a large international fraternity for the past ten years, including two years as an assistant webmaster in charge of database management and website content maintenance. Her areas of study and research interests are digital archiving and exhibitions, oral history, using artificial intelligence to conduct digital archives tasks, and increasing access to archives in underserved populations. She was fortunate to be able to complete the 1960 - 1966 Civil Rights Student Activists Oral History for Swarthmore College in 2022, adding 18 interviews to the existing content. She is especially interested in helping Black and other ethnic populations conduct oral histories and community archiving and preservation that can become integrated in their local education systems. She believes digital transformation of as many archives from these communities as possible is an appropriate, reparative way for traditional archives and universities to support Black and other ethnic communities in preserving their history.


 Her academic background spans 30 years of high education instruction in African American literature of the Harlem Renaissance and the Black Arts Movement; Contemporary, Latin-American, and Native American literature; Organizational and Business Communications; and Creative Writing. While in these positions, she managed and maintained various sets of records and school histories and assisted the registrar. Her motivation for serving is that her background of oral history in Black local community populations gives her first-hand knowledge of how powerful the collection of oral histories can be in sustaining the life and personality of a community. She wants to advance and secure the longevity of oral history in the nation’s higher education repositories as well as within the communities who generate the history that archives are created to steward.


Rebecca Kuske

Rebecca Kuske received her Master of Arts in Library and Information Studies from the ISchool at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2019 and also received a graduate certificate in Gender and Sexuality Studies. Currently, she works as the Digital Archivist and Records Officer for the University of Wisconsin-Stout. She was a project manager for the Lands We Share Oral History project.  She worked on the UW-Stout COVID-19 Oral History Project, focusing on the preservation and accessibility of the oral histories. She spearheaded the growing LGBTQIA+ Oral History Project at UW-Stout which includes collaboration and instruction to students.  This project led to her being named the recipient of the Staff Ally of the Year Qubie Award in 2021, an award given yearly from the UW-Stout LGBTQIA+ resource office.


 As the Digital Archivist for UW-Stout, it has been a goal of hers to revitalize the oral history programs. This includes designing consistent workflows that are relevant in this digital era, establishing required forms for participation, creating a digitally accessible repository location for oral histories, and collaborating with both student courses and local historical societies. She believes her experience and passion for oral histories connect directly with the role of an Oral History Section Steering Committee member. She would love the opportunity to collaborate with other archivists who are at the forefront of the oral history field and work with them to move this committee forward.

William Modrow

William Modrow is the current head of the Walter Havighurst Special Collections & the University Archives at Miami University. He has served or currently serves on committees from the local/state to national level. These include ALA, SAA, ACRL, RBMS, MAC and state archival associations. He has been involved in program planning, advocacy, education, networking and mentoring. He oversees the oral history work at Miami University working with our University Communications and Alumni offices.


 His interest in serving is to give back to the profession which has enriched his knowledge, increased his experience and built on his dedication to serving others. He feels this opportunity will continue building on his knowledge base so he can use his energy & enthusiasm to the benefit of SAA members and those in our communities. One project area of importance to him is creating/developing more oral histories from those individuals/groups in underrepresented areas. Their histories need to be shared and preserved. He also wants to do what he can to be more involved in SAA to further the organization and SAA's vision.

For more information about our election or with any questions, please contact The OHS section past chair and OHS nominating subcommittee leader, Lindsay Hiltunen at