Archives Leadership Institute

National Archives


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The Archives Leadership Institute (ALI) is a program funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), a statutory body affiliated with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Purdue University is the host site for ALI for the years 2019-2021. ALI will offer advanced training for 20 archival leaders each year, providing the knowledge, tools, and community of practice to enable these leaders to effect positive change within the profession.

Since its first year in 2008, the Archives Leadership Institute has provided mid-career archivists with opportunities to strengthen their leadership skills, grow their professional networks, and transform the future of archival practice. Previous hosts of the week-long institute include the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Luther College, and Berea College. In 2015, the Society of American Archivists awarded its Distinguished Service Award to the Archives Leadership Institute.

The challenges facing the archives profession allow us to identify the skills most needed by today’s archival leaders, and to arrange the Institute curriculum around providing training and active learning opportunities in the following areas:

  • Leadership skills for archivists, with special emphasis on addressing needs of the profession: skills in transformational leadership, team building and strategic planning to reduce silos, improve workflows, establish partnerships and restructure as needed;
  • Intercultural competency to engage in meaningful dialogues around diversity, and a strong commitment to diversifying both the archives profession and the archival record;
  • Technology skills and strategies for efficiently managing born-digital records and sustaining a technologically proficient workforce in a climate of rapid change with the arrival of the digital world; and
  • Advocacy, including the ability and motivation to engage in activities that educate the general public and policy makers about the necessity of archives, as well as strategic communication skills to argue more persuasively for resources.

ALI@Purdue will bring together archivists to prepare emerging archives leaders for how to meet the challenges and embrace the opportunities that lie ahead. Participants will engage alongside leaders and subject experts in a weeklong program that will integrate leadership best practices within the context of the archives profession. In addition to the valuable knowledge and active learning environment including virtual reality, participants will benefit from time allocated for networking, practicing teamwork and collaboration, and social time for open discussions and peer mentoring, helping participants to create a community of practice with individuals committed to helping and learning from one another. Prior knowledge of virtual reality technology is not expected of the participants. Support and assistance for all related technology will be provided. Time will be provided for participants to workshop individualized issues by sharing one or more challenges they face in their institutions and receiving feedback from the faculty and their peers on ways to tackle the problem. Participants will complete the Institute with increased confidence in their capabilities, while knowing they have a group of peers upon whom they can rely for continued collaboration, guidance, and support.

More information about the Institute is available at:

  • Former Steering Committee member and ALI alumnus Geof Huth’s article, “Lead On,” Archival Outlook (September/October 2013, pg. 4) 
  • Former ALI Director Rachel Vagts and former program coordinator Sasha Griffin, case study for “Management: Innovated Practices for Archives & Special Collections,” ed. Kate Theimer (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014). The case study covers the transformation of ALI and presents it as a model for leadership institutes.


Feel free to email with any questions.