Meet a Mentor: Michelle Ganz

Director of Archives, Dominican Sisters of Peace;
Regent for Member Service for the Academy of Certified Archivists;
Past Chair of the Lone Arrangers, Independent Archivists and Accessibility & Disability Sections of SAA;
Regular Speaker on DEI / Disability topics

What are some aspects that you most enjoy about working with mentees?

Answering questions is one of my favorite things to do, and mentees have the best questions. I love seeing how mentees grow and gain confidence as time goes on. Mentees have a perspective that I have lost over time; I appreciate being ‘forced’ to reorient my own thinking in light of how our field and the world has evolved.

What did you learn from the experience?

 Working with mentees forces me to revisit archival topics which means that everyone learns something. A lot of what I do has become rote, by explaining something to a mentee I can really think about why I do the things I do. Mentees also help keep me in the loop on emerging topics, forcing me to stay as current as possible on all things archival. One thing I never expected is that the skills I use as a mentor are the same ones I use when teaching!

What inspired you to sign up for the SAA Mentoring Program?

I was fortunate enough to have some really wonderful mentors early in my career and I wanted to pay it forward. When we are in school we learn the basics of how to do our jobs, but mentors helped me learn how to succeed. I also realized that most students don’t get a lot of help with resumes, CVs, and interviews in general. Part of why I became a mentor is to be able to help archivists be as prepared as possible for the job search process. 

Do you have tips for participants in the Mentoring Program and others thinking about participation?

You can be a mentor at any stage of your career. I was a mentee my first year in the field and then became a mentor my second year. I was able to mentor archivists who were transitioning from school to the field since I had just gone through the experience. The mentoring program is a wonderful way to make new archival friends; I still talk to many of the people that I mentored well after the formal relationship ended.

How has your mentorship affected your outlook on the archival profession? How has it changed from your perspective prior to participation in the program?

My mentorship relationships have given me insight into how our field has developed over time; how archival practice has evolved to deal with the changing landscape of our shared memory. Before I participated in the program I felt very adrift and unsure of myself. After participating in the program I had so much more self confidence that allowed me to build a solid foundation to build my career upon. As a mentor I am heartened by the drive and enthusiasm of new professionals and those who switch gears mid-career; the issues we grappled with a decade ago are rote portions of the standard archival education/thinking today.

What drew you to archives? 

As a kid I loved libraries and museums so much that I would stage exhibits in our home and read through 2 local libraries. I have always loved organizing materials and have always been fascinated by different ways to find information . When I was an undergrad at The Ohio State I took a student worker job in the university archives; three days after I started I went to Tamar Chute, assistant archivist at the time, and asked her how I could do this every day and the rest is history. 

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

The members of the subcommittee work so hard to match mentees with the best mentor for their needs. I was shocked by how much effort is put forth to make the program work; the people who volunteer for the subcommittee have a real dedication to the profession and its members.

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