Meet the Bloggers

Left to right: Paul Wester, Arian Ravanbakhsh, Susan Cummings, Laurence Brewer

Right to left: Paul Wester, Arian Ravanbakhsh, Susan Cummings, Laurence Brewer

Photo of blogger Paul WesterPaul Wester is the Director of the Modern Records Programs at NARA.

My career at the National Archives began on June 30, 1990, while I attended the University of Maryland in pursuit of my dual Masters Degree in American History and Library Science. I started as a cooperative education student employee at the Washington National Records Center in Suitland, MD. Over the years I have worked for the National Archives in a number of capacities in several locations and have found every day exciting. I currently serve as the Director of Modern Records Programs.

The archival and records management challenges we face are immense, both in their scale and complexity. My work helps ensure the staff are aligned with the National Archives’ larger strategic goals and mission, and that they have the resources and support to do their jobs. I also ensure our customers know about and understand our strategic directions by communicating with our various customer groups:

  • Federal agencies
  • professional groups (national and international)
  • public interest groups
  • American public

I travel occasionally and make speeches about electronic records issues and NARA’s Strategic Direction for Federal Records Management. I’ve had the honor to speak to historians and archivists in Kaohsiung, Taiwan and records managers in Barcelona, Spain about our records management work at the National Archives. Every day it energizes me to work with some of the most talented and highly-motivated archivists, records analysts, and technical experts in the world on the most intractable problems facing our profession.

Photo of blogger Susan CummingsSusan Cummings is the Deputy Director of Modern Records Programs at NARA.

I found my way from a dairy farm in Street, Maryland, to a Paleolithic cave site in southern Greece and a Masters degree in Classical Archaeology, to the Maryland State Archives in Annapolis, and eventually to the National Archives, with a few other stops in between.

At NARA I have worked for the Washington National Records Center, the Office of Regional Records Services, the Policy and Planning Staff and now the Office of Records Services, Washington DC, Modern Records Programs. As Deputy Director of the Modern Records Programs I support the NARA programs that work most closely with Federal agencies as they create, manage, maintain, and implement disposition of Federal records. I am most closely associated with the National Records Management Program (the unified direction and services of NARA records management staff nationwide), and the National Records Management Training Program.

This is my first experience with blogging — so be kind! I feel I represent a lot of records-people of a “certain age” who haven’t been terribly interested in web 2.0 but have a sneaking suspicion it might be important. I also like cats.

Photo of blogger Laurence Brewer Laurence Breweris the Director of the Life Cycle Management Division in the Modern Records Program at the National Archives and Records Administration in College Park, Maryland.

I came to NARA in 1999 after working several years as a records management contractor for the U.S. EPA and the VA Department of Transportation. As I was learning records management in those days, I got to do a lot of different things — training, developing file plans, implementing document management and recordkeeping systems — and enjoyed the work to the point where it sounded like a good career choice. I even put in some time after hours to get my Certified Records Manager designation in 1998. These many years later, I still have no regrets and am looking forward to the many challenges that continue to emerge in the field of Federal records management.

In the Life Cycle Management Division where I currently work, there are about 35 hard-working professional staff who work closely with agencies to schedule records, provide training, offer technical assistance, and otherwise ensure that Federal records are managed effectively across the Government. My role as division director is largely facilitative, or helping to make everyone’s job here easier. I also help write policy and guidance, make a few speeches, attend records and information management conferences, and do other work-related activities that no one else wants to do.

Photo of blogger Arian Ravanbakhsh Arian Ravanbakhshis an electronic records policy analyst in the Modern Records Programs at NARA.

This year, I will be speaking on a mid-morning panel chaired by Susan Sullivan and also featuring Jason Baron. Our panel is entitled Records Management Implications of Implementing Social Media Tools. During this panel, we will discuss the existing NARA records management guidance and how it can be applied to these new and exciting tools.

My NARA career started in October of 2000 when I joined the staff of the Life-Cycle Management Division. I was the lead appraisal archivist for several agencies including the Department of the Navy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. I have also served the NARA Records Management training program by working as a subject matter expert to revise and develop new training material, including the Records Management for Everyone CD, the Advanced Electronic Records Management course and the Asset and Risk management course. I have taught over two dozen records management classes and currently teach part of the Modern Archives Institute. I am an active member of the Society of American Archivists, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference, and ARMA International.

I am excited by the challenges ahead of us and think that this blog is a great vehicle for communicating with our Federal records management colleagues and all who are interested in helping us solve those challenges.