Cheers to 25 Years! A Tribute to Teresa Brinati

In September 2013 Teresa Brinati achieved a milestone: twenty-five years as SAA’s publishing director. Teresa is talented, passionate about SAA (and many other things), enthusiastic, funny, a triathlete—truly a force of nature! She dwells in possibility.

A number of SAA members shared their memories of Teresa in the September/October 2013 issue of Archival Outlook. Please use the comment section below to congratulate Teresa or to share your memories. Here's to a successful twenty-five years, and many more to come!

Mark Greene, SAA President, 2007–2008:

My memories of Teresa are her cheerful willingness to help me with any (sometimes mundane, sometimes emergency) requests, her seemingly constant energy, and the warm smile she always has greeted me with at meetings and conferences. I can’t believe she’s been working anywhere for twenty-five years, given the strict child labor laws in this country!

Kathy Marquis:

In 2009 we ran an archival haiku contest, in conjunction with an Annual Meeting session on archival humor. Teresa agreed to be one of our august judges. We all rated the poems on our own, then gathered in Frank Boles’s presidential suite to hash out the final winners. The haikus were all very clever, and the company was pretty darn silly. But what put it over the top was Teresa’s contribution of a bottle of limoncello. I think our decisions were well made—and they certainly were made with a lot of glee!

Mary Jo Pugh, Editor, The American Archivist, 2006–2011:

Teresa and I were introduced at the SAA Editorial Board meeting in Atlanta on September 29, 1988, and we had breakfast the following day. She was so bright, engaging, and funny—and also proved to be utterly competent. I fell in love.

She has been my lifeline for decades of writing and editing. I first worked with her as editor of the Archival Fundamentals Series (1988–1992) and author of Providing Reference Services for that series. She helped me revise and publish the second edition of the book, published in 2005. From 2006 to 2011, she was the managing editor as I was the editor of The American Archivist. Behind the scenes, Teresa makes the SAA publishing program work as if it is a thing that runs by itself. After the editors and authors give her content, she works her magic with graphic designers, typesetters, printers, mailing houses, and other vendors—and she manages marketing and publicity. She was also instrumental in implementing the Editorial Board’s plans to get The American Archivist online. Teresa is a charged particle, energetic, optimistic, creative, original, intelligent, and supportive. To quote E.B. White, “It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer.”

Peter Wosh, Publications Editor, 2007–2013:

Teresa and I both root for historically hopeless baseball teams (the Chicago Cubs and the New York Mets, respectively). Neither ball club has won much of anything in the twenty-five years that Teresa has worked for SAA, and our annual optimistic outlook in March always seems to dissolve during the dreary dog days of August. Though we may have bonded over our teams’ futility between the foul lines, it quickly became obvious to me that the archival community hit a collective grand slam when Teresa became director of publishing for SAA. Cool under pressure, she always keeps her eye on the ball. Though a stickler for details, she never lets minutiae prevent her from shrewdly surveying the entire playing field. She enjoys working with diverse personalities, nurturing everyone’s individual talents to advance the publications team’s collective goals. And she has a great competitive streak. She sported a nasty black eye during a Publications Board meeting a few years ago after a losing battle with a line drive forced her to the emergency department. Characteristically she played through it and never spent any time on the DL. If (God forbid) she ever leaves SAA, Teresa would do quite well in another profession entirely. It seems to me she is the perfect manager that the Chicago Cubs have never had but desperately need. Forget Ryne Sandberg; my money is on Brinati. Book your World Series tickets now!

Richard Cox, Editor, The American Archivist, 1991–1995; Publications Editor, 2002–2006:

I was on the SAA Council when Teresa joined the SAA’s staff. During the past twenty-five years I’ve worked with her on a number of projects and tasks, most notably The American Archivist and SAA’s non-serial publications program. I’ve always been impressed by her professionalism, knowledge, meticulous attention to detail, and good sense of humor in even the most difficult times. There is only one distressing aspect to this: While I have turned from silver to gray haired, seen more wrinkles appear, and felt my energy ebbing away, Teresa looks the same today as she did in the late 1980s. Her enthusiasm and energy seem unabated, and she seems to be well preserved—a good attribute for one working within the company of archivists.

Dennis Meissner, Publications Board Chair, 2003–2007:

At one particular Publications Board meeting, a rep from a prominent East Coast publishing house graced us with a visit to talk about “partnering” on a few titles. As the pitch unfolded it became obvious that “partnering” was a happy euphemism for something else. The carpetbagger made a regrettable misstep toward the end of his presentation, averring that the proposed arrangement was a pathway toward stabilizing and professionalizing an also-ran press like SAA’s. At that moment I noticed a hard, shiny glint in Teresa’s eyes, followed almost immediately by something that stumped me—a soft, tranquil, and euphoric look. And then I realized that she was simply giving unvoiced thanks for the innocent victim that had been delivered unto her, as momentary exercise for her teeth and claws. After another fifteen minutes of lively discussion, the rep was escorted out of the meeting by Teresa, who cheerfully showed him the way to the street. I was happy and privileged to witness the swordsmanship of a master.

Joan Krizack, Publications Board Member, 2004–2011:

Breakfasts in New Brunswick, clandestine cocktails, Santa Monica Pier carousel ride, Publications Board summits—always upbeat and with a great sense of humor, Teresa made what could have been dull meetings entertaining. What a delight it has been to know and work with Teresa over the last (can it really be?) twenty-five years. Cin, cin, Teresa!

Philip B. Eppard, Editor, The American Archivist, 1996–2005:

When I would visit the SAA office, I was always amazed at how tidy Teresa’s office was—so unlike the office of a typical archivist. It was strong evidence of her organizational skills, so essential when juggling multiple publishing projects. Teresa took maternity leave while I was editing The American Archivist, and the job of interacting with the printer fell to my editorial assistant. Teresa provided such detailed, step-by-step instructions that there was no chance that there could be a mishap in the production process. Nevertheless, we were very happy when Teresa returned to work! And I’m not at all surprised that her son Luca has been an enthusiastic worker in the SAA Bookstore at the annual meeting.

Gregory S. Hunter, Chair, Publications Board, 1997–2000; Editor, The American Archivist, 2012–:

Editors and authors have come and gone during Teresa’s twenty-five years on the SAA staff, but she has been the constant in SAA’s publications program. She has been the person balancing editorial vision with budget realities, all the while maintaining the friendship and respect of her colleagues. SAA members may not appreciate the personal sacrifice involved. Whenever the Publications Board or Editorial Board meet in Chicago, Teresa spends long days with us, including accompanying us to dinner. While we usually are pleasant dinner companions, I know that Teresa has had personal commitments that probably should have taken precedence. Thank you, Teresa, for the many times that you have put SAA and its members first!

Christopher Prom, Publications Editor, 2013– :

During the time in my career when I was working on a key publication, I decided rather late in the game—at the layout proof stage—that the articleI was working on needed some serious corrections. I dutifully submitted the edited proofs with all sorts of corrections and annotations, fully expecting that Teresa would “push back” at the changes. Even though what I was asking required a lot of work on her part, and even though she was under her own set of pressures, she never complained. She’s no pushover, but she sees the best in people and really wants others to succeed. Throughout my involvement with SAA, I’ve seen again and again that Teresa goes the extra mile for the Society and its members.

dwythe says:
Deborah Wythe, Pubs Board, 2004-11

TB, my hero! With infinite patience and heroic assistance, Teresa threw me a lifeline and helped me keep the museum archives manual on track during its troubled childhood, ending up with a top seller on the book list. Getting a chance to know Teresa on both professional and personal levels by serving with her on the Pubs Board has been one of the highlights of my SAA experience.  There was always a huge hug at the beginning of each meeting and a sense of coming home to "Teresa's house" -- and a marvelous, fun, cool, productive house it was and is. Thanks for the 25 years!


msly says:
Teresa in a very

Teresa in action...

is a very impressive thing.  There's nothing you can't set your hand to and then do an excellent job.  And the killer sense of humor doesn't hurt either.  I applaud your contributions not only to the continuity of a strong and impressive SAA Publications Program but also to the life of the Society and the positve work culture among the staff.  We've given you thank you awards, but there's not enough plaques and whereases (is that a word?) in all the world to acknowledge what you've done to keep the society and the profession strong and forward-looking.  Thank you!  Margery

ddarienzo says:
Congratulations Teresa!

Teresa is truly an SAA star!  For 25 years she has encouraged members to participate in SAA in every way possible-- and espeically by writing for SAA publications.  A creative, articulate and talented woman herself-- she has used all her skills to also help make her colleagues look good. Teresa's sense of humor is a joy, her energy boundless and her support immeasurable. I recall years on the Award's Committee with Teresa orchestrating the entire behind-the-scene  process and her real pleasure in celebrating colleagues.  She helped make me feel part of SAA professionally and personally-- and I remain grateful for such kindness and a staunch Teresa fan!  Congratulations T.  You rock!

clines says:
Congratulations Teresa!

Are you sure it has been 25 years? Impossible!!  I first met Teresa when I became a department editor of American Archivist in 1988.  Little did I know (perhaps I wasn't paying attention) that she was a new kid on the block.  She projected an aura that she knew everything (which she did) of relevance to the work of the journal and acted like she was completely and irrevocably in charge (which she was).  I had small interactions with Teresa through the years, and then in 2009 I had the great pleasure of working closely with her for three years during my tenure on SAA Council. Nothing had changed over the years.  She still knew everything and was completely and irrevocably in charge of those projects we worked on together. But here I must take exception with Peter Wosh.  Even with her remarkable array of talents, her toughness, and her enthusiasm--even Teresa could not push, pull, or cajole the Cubs to the Series.  But, it would be great fun to watch her try. --Scott

radic9100 says:
Congratulations, Teresa!

Teresa has always offered me words of encouragement and guidance that I have always found helpful, heartening, and useful. I very much appreciate her levelheadedness and postivity, and I envied her energy before, but, triathlons? I'm just in awe.


--Caryn Radick

hwsamuels says:
Congratulations, Teresa!!!


Congratulations on 25 years at SAA overseeing the publishing program.  Those of us who have had the privilege and pleasure of working with you know, so greatly appreciate the energy and creativity you have brought to these responsibilities. All you have to do to understand your accomplishment is look at the SAA publications list!!!!!! You have my thanks and admiration, and I hope you will have the occasion to celebrate this wonderful anniversary, and your accomplishments.

Best wishes, and thanks again for all that you do!!!!!
P.S. As I write to you in my new office in Vermont, hanging on the wall behind me is the beautiful framed cover of Controlling the Past.  Thank you again!!! 
grifsa01 says:

Aw, congratulations Teresa! When I was first involved with SNAP, Teresa reached out to me with encouraging words, which really bolstered my confidence.  She has also helped calm my nerves and guide me with my first article for AO.  Thanks for all your hard work, Teresa.  It has really made a difference!  :)  - Sasha Griffin

blandis says:
Ain't Nobody Nowhere Like Teresa, Patron Saint of SAA's Pubs

Teresa makes SAA members look good, plain and simple. Not just good, but great! I don't feel I've had a creative SAA-related idea in my almost 20 years as a member of this organization that didn't get spit-shined and gussied up by Teresa's editorial aplomb, creative zeal, enthusiastic counsel, or sober reality check. Yes, even when offering an enthusiastic archivist a harsh does of reality, Teresa makes you feel like a milion bucks! Publications and American Archivist editors and boards come and go, authors wax (loquaciously) and wane, print publications that everyone says should be available online for free are suddenly available online for free (though does the social-mediasphere notice?), archivists with crazy ideas about capturing annual meeting content in new and labor-intensive ways (who should be told to go away) are actually encouraged and ... rescued from their own crazy schemes -- behind it all, looking calm and, as Richard Cox notes, ageless, stands Teresa Brinati. Long may she reign as the patron saint of SAA's publications program in whatever stage of its evolution it happens to be!

Terry Cook says:
Terry Cook:  Publications and AA Boards, Editor and Author

Terry Cook:  Publications Board, 1990-93;  AA Editorial Board, 1991-2001;  Chair, Five-Year Strategic Plan for SAA Publications; editor and author of several SAA books and AA articles

My principal involvement with SAA, aside from giving papers, has been, as suggested above, with the SAA Publications program, and thus I have had so many rich contacts with Teresa actively going back 23 of her 25 years.  The success of everything I've been able to do rests so much on her knowledge, inspiration, and wisdom.  I have called her, in an SAA publication no less, "the crown jewel" of the SAA and so she has long been, and long may she so continue to be.  The most lasting, influential, and important of SAA's many good works, on an international stage, across decades, has been its publications, and no editor or author could have done their part of that work without Teresa.  Her competence, energy, and creativity have been fundamental to all of us.  Her fierce devotion to family and friends is only partly masked by her sense of humour and fun.  Her private encouragement -- a card sent here, a note there, a small gift somewhere slse -- to those suffering serious illnesses or family loses is not part of her job, but rather done quietly behind the scenes.  Yet such kindnesses surely are evidence of her deep humanity, and what it means to be a community, and what it takes to be a community with heart and spirit, as SAA is, thanks so much to her.

bartl85 says:
Nancy Bartlett, The American Archivist board, 1986-1992

The letters SAA and TB go hand in hand.  TB (aka Teresa Brinati) is the SAA for those of us who treasure the society’s written word, spirit of inclusion, serious purpose, and good fun.  TB brings a brisk and bright Chicagoan can-do attitude to wherever SAA takes her, delighting and inspiring so many along the way.  I’m very grateful for any chance to work with TB:  her style and substance speak volumes!     

Nelb961 says:
Tawny Ryan Nelb, SAA Author and Publications Board 2008-current

I did not get to know Teresa until I co-wrote a book with Waverly Lowell for SAA, published in 2006.  Teresa’s expertise slogging through the myriad details of encouraging us to complete the manuscript over several years and attending to the logistical details of editing and production were extraordinary.  I got to know her even better when I joined the Publication’s Board in 2008.  Even though I have been a member of SAA since 1976, I had no idea that the output of the publications department had such a huge impact on SAA’s bottom line or that there were so many publications being juggled in various stages of proposal, writing, editing, re-editing, graphic design, layout, production, and marketing.  Teresa is a veritable Wonder Woman coordinating and directing every detail, and her 25 years at SAA has had a laudable impact on the overall credibility and growth of the organization.  SAA publications are respected throughout the world and provide both theoretical and practical information to help the members of our profession stretch themselves and let us help others.  Thank you, Teresa, from all of us.

bruemmer says:
Bruce Bruemmer, AA Editorial Board Member 2004-12

It is good that we say nice things about T now rather than wait for, say, retirement.  This way she will be encouraged to stay with SAA for many years because I, for one, cannot imagine SAA without her.  T was gracious and welcoming to me as a stupid young person, and continues to be gracious and tolerant of me as a stupid old person.  Last minute requests never ruffle her, and she even makes you feel good about remaindering a publication that might have your name on it.  She's everyone's  Northern Star at SAA, but brighter. My last piece of correspondence from SAA (real stuff, not those bits and bytes) was from T thanking me for work on the Editorial Board, and for me there is no higher honor. If the line between admiration and stalking weren't so thin I swear I would have created the Fans of Brinati Facebook page by now.

spindler says:
Rob Spindler, Task Force on Electronic Publications, 2002

I recall a snowy March weekend in Chicago when the Task Force on Electronic Publications convened to develop a strategic plan for SAA publications. I didn't know Teresa well at this point but I knew we would essentially be reviewing and revamping a large portion of her work. It would be personal for her, and we spent a long Saturday and Sunday morning ultimately creating 55 action items for modernizing the SAA publications program. I don't recall the deer-in-headlights look Teresa probably should have had during and after the meeting. I do recall her being actively engaged in the far reaching discussion and taking so many of the items to heart in her work. Looking at that report now (one copy is here: it's really gratifying to see how so many of those ideas have actually been implmented, largely as a result of Teresa's determination and effective collaboration with so many SAA members and officers. I was so impressed with her professionalism and good-spirited attitude despite the long weekend of deliberations and the mountain of work that ensued. She showed me what a true professional does, and how the tiny SAA staff continually climbs the tallest mountains for our members. Thank you and congratulations Teresa!!!