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Introducing the 2023 CoSA Awards Program Walch and CoSA-Ancestry Leadership Recipients!

By Anne Ackerson posted 06-26-2023 02:12 PM


Victoria Irons Walch Leadership Awards: Ashley Selima (RI) and Allen Ramsey (CT)

Ashley Selima, Rhode Island State Archivist and Public Records Administrator
Since her appointment in 2017, Ashley has demonstrated an incredible ability to meet multiple complex challenges and opportunities both creatively and effectively. Under her leadership, the State Archives has initiated a new Digital Archives program, making all historical state vital records and other in-demand records available online through our Digital Archives. Just in 2022, over 100,000 new items were added for Rhode Islanders to access! In addition, she has been proactive in meeting the emerging need for preservation of government social media records by launching a new social media preservation program. In addition to expanding training and educational opportunities for state and municipal government bodies, the State Archives has also launched a new, and growing, digital exhibit platform through a partnership with Google Arts & Culture to share curated stories built from the State Archives holdings, increasing access to the State Archive’s collection. She oversaw the move of the state archives to a more suitable facility in 2020 -- a daunting task made more challenging because of the pandemic. 
Ashley approaches all State Archives and Public Records Administration functions and programs with an innovative, collaborative, and detail-oriented approach. In addition to demonstrating excellent leadership qualities which allow all staff to feel appreciated and thrive, she has created a suite of educational resources, including live and pre-recorded webinars, in- person events, and guidance documents, to better inform and educate state and local government officials on best practices and legal requirements for records management. She has also completely reimagined the Rhode Island Historical Records Advisory Board in her time as chair. Since her tenure began, she has built a membership more geographically and institutionally diverse throughout the state and was able to secure a speaker series throughout the year with support from a grant through the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.
Allen Ramsey, Assistant State Archivist at the Connecticut State Library
Allen Ramsey joined the Connecticut State Library staff in 2010, as Government Records Archivist. He became Assistant State Archivist in 2013 and oversees the State Archives acquisition, arrangement, description, and preservation of state and local government records and non-governmental records of enduring value pertaining to the history and heritage of Connecticut. He volunteered to serve on the SERI Tools and Resources Subcommittee from September 2014-2018 and as co-chair from November 2015-2018. During his tenure on Tools and Resources he was involved in oversight and management of the Resource Center, training members on how to submit resources, assisted with the migration of the website, reviewed best practices documents as part of grant projects, and many other routine tasks in managing the subcommittees work. In 2015, he joined the SERI Steering committee and became co-chair in 2018. As co-chair he is involved in reviewing and providing feedback on grant proposals submitted to IMLS, NEH, and Mellon Foundation as part of the University of Illinois subgrant. He was involved in drafting, reviewing, and providing feedback on CoSA’s IMLS ACCESS grant products for governor’s offices, secretaries of state, chief information officers, etc. He is currently providing input and oversight on our current IMLS grant project BACKER and the University of IL grant project PREPARE. Allen is also serving on the CoSA Board of Directors.
Wrote his nominator, "Allen has been a thoughtful, supportive, versatile, and steadying force for SERI as it has navigated ongoing work, as well as large federal and foundation-funded projects. Each activity found Allen in a leadership role, from overseeing and managing the growing online Resource Center to co-chairing the SERI Tools and Resources Subcommittee to co-chairing the SERI Steering Committee. Every one of these assignments resulted in tangible products, such as the Digital Best Practice Series of publications, and strategies to move the work forward. Tools and Resources is tasked with developing best practices, models, and standards related to information governance, digital, preservation, and digital processing workflows (among other aspects of archival practices), and it has been one of the most productive subcommittees in SERI. In large measure, we have Allen to thank for that."

CoSA-Ancestry Leadership Award: Grant Robertson and Bryan Collars (SC)

With the generous support of Ancestry™, the Council of State Archivists (CoSA) awards mid-career employees in state and territorial archives with funding to defray professional development of knowledge and skills and to enhance leadership versatility, particularly in the areas of collaboration, interdisciplinary project management, and strategic thinking.

Grant Robertson, Electronic Records Archivist, and Bryan Collars, Archivist/Supervisor of Information Technology Services, at the South Carolina Department of Archives and History are crucial to the agency's effort to keep pace in the constantly changing world of digital records. Bryan has been the leader of the department's digital effort almost since its inception and is responsible for many of the agency's successful efforts to preserve and provide access to digital records. He first led the effort to digitize records for easier access, helped develop the Online Records Index to provide access to those digitized images, and then led the program to develop a digital repository for born-digital records.

Since joining the agency, Grant has been the team leader in the transition from Preservica Enterprise to the Preservica Cloud. His knowledge from working in the private sector has been instrumental in helping the agency better understand and streamline digital processes and expand ability to use new software to provide a better product for current patrons and future generations.

Funding from this award will enable Grant and Bryan to attend the 2023 Best Practices Exchange Unconference, where they will share and collect information on new practices in the field of digital archiving.


The Council of State Archivists (CoSA) Awards Program acknowledges individuals, institutions, and programs that enrich and strengthen our nation's state and territorial archives. The Awards Program rewards innovative efforts and provides encouragement for the development of new and remarkable projects. By recognizing exemplary achievements, CoSA hopes to inspire others to make similar contributions to the field of government archives. The awards will be presented at the CoSA annual meeting in Washington, DC this July. The program is made possible with generous support from FamilySearch.