2018 CoSA Awards Recipients Announced

Jun 14, 2018

The CoSA Awards Program Committee is pleased to announce this year’s recipients of the following awards:


Named for CoSA’s first executive director the Victoria Irons Walch Leadership Award acknowledges long‐term leadership of state and territorial archives. This year’s recipient is Dr. Lisa Speer, former state archivist at the Arkansas State Archives. The following paragraphs are from her nomination:

When Dr. Lisa Speer was named the Arkansas State Historian and Director of the Arkansas State Archives (ASA) in 2013, neither she nor the staff of the archives knew what a transformative effect she would have on the organization. At the time, collaborative efforts between the archives and the other historical repositories in Arkansas were nonexistent, and outreach to records creators and the archives’ stakeholders was minimal. The state archives did not participate in the wider field of archives and did not actively pursue either the acquisition of historical materials or state records. The archives acquired only what was given by donors who sought out the state archives for their collections. Grant funding was not often sought, and new projects ideas were often left unfunded and unfinished. The ASA did not have an advocacy group to support its existence, and its web accessibility was limited to seventeen separate searchable indexes of some types of its records holdings, and searchable EAD finding aids for approximately a quarter of its total archival holdings.

Dr. Speer first addressed the lack of digital content available to researchers online, and in 2014, the archives launched its digital collections site, the Digital Ark-ives, with its first six digital collections. Over the past four years, fourteen more digital collections containing thousands of digital materials have been published, including a series of Arkansas History Lesson Plans created in collaboration with the Arkansas Department of Education, and the supplementary primary source documents that support those lesson plans. In 2014, Dr. Speer also obtained a grant for the archives to overhaul its website for the first time since 2002, giving it a more modern and easier to navigate design, and featuring an integrated records search, increasing public accessibility to collections and overall functionality. The site launched in the summer of 2016 and has since been listed among Family Tree Magazine’s Top 75 Best State Websites for Genealogy.

Dr. Speer’s leadership also forged closer connections between the archives, its donors, the public, county governments, and state agencies. The ASA has always lacked the mandate to require state agencies to transfer their archival records to the archives for preservation, and so had never before engaged with state agencies regarding their records preservation. Nevertheless, Dr. Speer led a two-year outreach project to state agencies, holding monthly information workshops for agency representatives on the state archives, state records retention laws, physical and electronic records management and preservation, and the process of transferring records to the archives. These grassroots efforts have borne fruit, because the archives now has robust state records transfer policies in place, has enacted records transfer understandings with twenty state agencies, and has developed contacts with over fifty more.

Dr. Speer’s time as Arkansas’s State Historian ended in February of 2018, but her leadership and service at the Arkansas State Archives have left it a changed place, and continue to benefit the organization she led and the archival staff she supported. It is not enough to say that Lisa Speer did her job and directed the archives; Dr. Speer changed the archives’ direction.


The Victoria Iron Walch Emerging Leader Travel Stipend supports travel for state and territorial archives staffers who have been in archives work less than five years to attend their first CoSA Annual Meeting. This year’s recipients are: 

  • Patricia Mitchell, Electronic Records Archivist, Tennessee State Library and Archives. Director of Archival Technical Services Cathi Carmack wrote in her support letter “Over the last two years, Patsy has shown great initiative in taking on and developing the role of Electronic Records Archivist. In addition to immediately jumping in to volunteer on a SERI subcommittee, she set up a plan of work for our adoption of Preservica as our digital preservation solution. We are in our third contract year of using the system and Patsy has been an integral part of our success. Our team meets monthly with upper administration to keep them in the loop, and they have been extremely impressed with her work. She has been able to complete an inventory of all our digital holdings as well as conduct much testing on various formats we hold and how they may be presented to our users.”
  • Catheryne Popovitch, Illinois State Archives. State Archivist Dave Joens wrote that Cathy “…has pursued opportunities to demonstrate leadership and responsibility within the Archives. As supervisor of the Publications Unit, she coordinates projects and ventures between the various units of the Archives. Her goal is to become a leader not only within the Illinois State Archives, but also within the archives profession. Ms. Popovitch is an active member of the Chicago Area Archivists. She is also a member of MAC and recently had an article published in the MAC newsletter. Ms. Popovitch participates in CoSA as a member of the Education and Training Committee and attends many of the CoSA webinars. She recently was a presenter on the SERI webinar “Introducing the "Attracting & Retaining Great Talent" White Paper” and is a slated presenter in a May webinar to introduce MLIS students to careers in government archives.”
  • Megan Rohleder, Electronic Records Archivist, Kansas State Archives. State Archivist Matt Veatch wrote in her support letter, “Megan joined the Kansas Historical Society’s State Archives Division in August 2016 as an electronic records archivist. Fresh out of graduate school but with extensive private sector business experience, she possessed a level of confidence, appetite for knowledge, and passion for state archives work that enabled her to move rapidly into a leadership position. Following a brief apprenticeship, Megan assumed direction of our Public Records Section about eight months ago. In that role she supervises a staff of three: a government records archivist, an archives specialist, and a land survey records specialist. This small (but mighty!) team delivers records management consulting services and training to state and local government; acquires, processes, preserves, and provides access to analog and digital state government records with enduring value; and coordinates the development of electronic records management policies and best practices for Kansas government. Megan has embraced her leadership role with energy and purpose, and I have every reason to believe she will be up to the challenges faced by 21st century state archives.”


CoSA’s Rising Star Award acknowledge outstanding contributions by individual staff members or teams to their state archives and constituencies. This year’s recipient is Elena Perez-Lizano, New Mexico Commission of Public Records.

Elena Perez-Lizano is a rising star at the New Mexico State Records Center and Archives (SRCA) and within the broader archival community. Ms. Perez-Lizano started her career at the State Archives a little more than three years ago and has already made significant contributions to the division, the agency, and the archival profession through her active participation and her willingness to embrace additional duties and responsibilities. As a senior archivist, Ms. Perez-Lizano performs a wide-range of archival functions to include processing, preservation, arrangement, description, reference assistance, and outreach. However, she has also stepped into a leadership role, providing professional guidance and training to other incoming archivists. This training has covered all of the archival domains, including the preservation and encapsulation of oversized materials. In the absence of a bureau chief and two other senior archivist positions, this has been a tremendous help to the division. In providing them direction and assistance in both the reference room and in locating materials from the vault, this has allowed the division director to focus on other projects and administrative duties.


CoSA’s Advocacy for Archives Award acknowledges an individual or organization that has made significant contributions to efforts by state and local government archives to ensure the preservation and availability of the American historical record. This year’s recipient is Vermont Secretary of State James C. Condos.

Wrote State Archivist Tanya Marshall, “Secretary Condos has a solid reputation at both the state and national levels for his support of government archives. Furthermore, his strong belief that public records are the cornerstone of government transparency and, therefore, should be recognized and managed as public assets is a common theme in his annual Vermont Government Transparency Tour as well as his regular editorials about public records in state and local newspapers. In addition to his annual Transparency Tour and frequent editorials, Secretary Condos is one of the Vermont State Archives and Records Administration’s strongest advocates. Prior to being elected Secretary of State, Secretary Condos served as a state senator and was a persistent voice of support for public records and VSARA during his time in the Vermont Legislature. Since becoming Secretary of State in January 2011, Secretary Condos has taken his support of our efforts to assure records of continuing value are preserved and accessible to current and future generations to a new level.”

Congratulations to the following recipients of CoSA Awards! The awards will be presented at the Joint Annual Meeting this summer.


Tags: Awards
Category: General News

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