SAA Committee Member Highlights: Alison Clemens

This post is from Alison Clemens (she/they). Alison is the Head of Processing at Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University, and serves as chair of the Society of American Archivists (SAA) Membership Committee. Alison also serves on the SAA Nominating Committee, the SAA Archival Workers Emergency Fund Organizing Committee, the Diversity Committee of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of the American Library Association, and the Connecticut State Library Board. She is a graduate of Scripps College and the University of Texas at Austin’s School of Information.

What drew you to archives?

I worked in my college’s special collections library as an undergraduate, and when I approached graduation, I realized I wanted to keep doing just what I was doing in the library. I was aware of archives at that point but was more focused on preservation and special collections more broadly. When I arrived at the University of Texas at Austin’s School of Information, Dr. David B. Gracy was assigned to me as my advisor. Dr. Gracy’s enthusiasm for archives was unparalleled, and I quickly switched my focus to archives and have never looked back! More than ten years later, my passion for providing meaningful, inclusive, and respectful access to cultural heritage material continues to drive my work.

What’s your favorite thing about your work on the Committee or Subcommittee?

I’ve been on the Membership Committee since 2017, chaired its Mentoring Program Subcommittee from 2017 through 2020, and have served as chair for the Membership Committee proper since 2020. Throughout my years on the Membership Committee, I’ve been consistently amazed by the range and quality of services the Committee provides to our colleagues. Over the past few years, we’ve placed an emphasis on service improvements and inclusion, and I’m honored to have worked with tireless, thoughtful colleagues who built new services like the SAA Career Services Commons; peer-based mentoring cohorts for students and new professionals, BIPOC colleagues, and members of SAA’s Accessibility and Disability Section; and improved orientations for SAA members through our Key Contacts program. All of this has expanded and improved on our existing services. It’s been a pleasure of my career so far to work with my colleagues on the Membership Committee to determine how best to serve our fellow cultural heritage workers.

What do you wish SAA members knew about your Committee or Subcommittee or its work?

I wish all SAA members (and beyond) knew that the Membership Committee exists to serve them. If you have questions about any of our services or anything else SAA membership-related, you’re welcome to reach out to us through the SAA Directory or at We’re here to support you.

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