Fellow: Brenda Gunn

Brenda Gunn, director of research and collections at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, will be inducted as a Fellow of the Society of American Archivists (SAA) during a ceremony at the SAA Annual Meeting in Portland, Oregon, July 23–29. The distinction of Fellow is the highest honor bestowed on individuals by SAA and is awarded for outstanding contributions to the archives profession.

Gunn holds master’s degrees in both archival enterprise and English literature, and is currently pursuing a PhD in American history at the University of Texas at Austin. Throughout her career, from becoming a founding member of one of the first SAA student chapters to her continuous efforts in mentoring colleagues, Gunn’s leadership has manifested itself in her persistent drive, thoughtful initiative, and creative resourcefulness. When the devastation of Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, Gunn founded the Emergency Disaster Assistance Recovery Fund for Archives, which is co-sponsored by the Society of Southwest Archivists (SSA) and SAA, to help with the immediate preservation costs of the region’s archival repositories. She has remained a strong advocate for the program as it evolved into the National Disaster Recovery Fund for Archives and has served on its grant committee. In 2009, she received SSA’s Distinguished Service Award for her collaborative archival recovery work during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Gunn’s ongoing contributions to the development and sustainability of the Archives Leadership Institute (ALI) have influenced hundreds of archivists who have been through the program. After participating in ALI in 2010, Gunn supported the idea of a stronger, long-term mentorship model for the program. The program’s reputation for the invaluable practical knowledge and hands-on management experiences it provides its participants are a direct result of Gunn’s contributions, notes one of her nominators.

Her commitment to and efforts on behalf of SAA are equally tireless. She has played significant roles in chairing or co-chairing the Preservation Section, Awards Committee, and the Host Committee for the 2009 Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas, as well as participating in numerous other committees. Gunn brings her energy and ideas to the Foundation Board, of which she has been a member since 2014, to help it flourish.

One of her supporters noted: “Gunn has the great skill of actively listening to all members to see where there are ways to move forward.” Another supporter commented: “She has been a force in advancing the archival enterprise nationally.”

Gunn is one of six new Fellows named in 2017. There are currently 189 Fellows of the Society of American Archivists.